POL S 371 A: Global Crime and Corruption

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 9:50am
* *
Joint Sections: 
JSIS B 371 A
James D. Long

Syllabus Description:

Full Syllabus can be found under Files tab, Syllabus folder.

Course Description:

Why do political crimes and public sector corruption continue to plague countries in the modern world? What are the motivations of individuals and groups that commit criminal and corrupt acts? And what, if anything, can political leaders, policymakers, activists, and citizens do to stop global crime and corruption? This class examines the sources, processes, and outcomes related to illicit and illegal behavior within firms, governments, and organizations at local, national, and international levels. We will define political crime and public sector corruption, and investigate their psychological, cultural, political, and economic sources; and explore these dynamics within businesses, bureaucracies, political parties, gangs, mafias, religious cults, pirate organizations, and terrorists. We will consider a range of policy responses to reduce crime and corruption. Case studies and evidence will include (but not be limited to): cross-national global patterns of corruption; criminal business enterprises and government corruption in North Africa and Mediterranean Europe; the drug trade between the US and Mexico; the founding of the US; the economics of piracy in the Caribbean; the Islamic State’s (ISIS) doomsday insurgency; racketeering among Sicilian mafias; drug abuse in the Third Reich and Nazi Party; corruption reform in Nigeria; and the trade of illegal goods on the Dark Web’s “Silk Road.”


Learning Objectives:

Understand the sources, processes, and outcomes related to the political economy of illicit and illegal behavior of political actors and in the public sector, including firms, bureaucracies, and domestic & international social movements. Students will learn basic principles of political economy, applied micro-economics, game theory, and qualitative case material from all global regions.


Required Readings (available at UW bookstore and online):

Textbook (available at UW bookstore, must be 2nd edition):

  • Susan Rose-Ackerman and Bonnie Palifka, Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform, Cambridge (2nd Edition), 2016.

All additional readings will be provided by Professor Long and available on Canvas. Students may wish to obtain and read Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, MIT Press, 2018, but this book is *not* required and only considered Supplementary.

Catalog Description: 
We examine sources & outcomes of illicit behavior within firms, governments, and organizations at local, national, & international levels; investigating the psychological, cultural, political, and economic sources of crime/corruption; and explore these dynamics within businesses, bureaucracies, gangs, mafias, cults, and pirates. Case studies include India, US-Mexico drug trade, piracy, doomsday cults, Sicilian mafias, Nazi drug abuse, & Dark Web. Recommended: POL S 203, POL S 204, or POL S 270; or JSIS 123, JSIS 200, JSIS 201, or JSIS 222; or equivalent. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 371.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 12, 2021 - 9:17pm