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GREG WEINER, PhD


Political Scientist

Assumption College
500 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
703-798-0268
gs.weiner@assumption.edu
Courses Taught
Problems in Civil Liberties
American political discourse has been increasingly dominated by "rights talk," which we may understand broadly as the claim to exemption from the authority of the political community. It is widely understood, for example, that an adherent of a minority religion is not expected to conform to the religious preferences of the majority. But beyond such clear-cut cases, hazy ones loom. Where does the authority of the community end and the autonomy of the individual begin? This course will explore those questions, first through a theoretical overview of the problem of rights, then through the prism of a series of controversies in contemporary political discourse.
Syllabus

Constitutional Law
This course will introduce students to major theories of constitutional interpretation as well as to a sampling of landmark constitutional law cases. We will focus on reading and discussing Supreme Court opinions on both the structure of government and rights against government.
Syllabus

Political Issues: The Quest for Justice
The issues covered in any given day's newspaper are transient, but some political questions endure across the ages: What is the purpose of politics? What are its possibilities and dangers? What is justice? What is the best life, and what regime best facilitates it?
Syllabus

American Government
There are two stories to tell about American government: how it was designed to work and how it has actually come to operate. The answers lie not merely in the provisions of the Constitution that outline the structure of government, but also in the theoretical arguments that animated the founding over two centuries ago and that continue to animate our political system today. Moreover, answers-and questions-are to be found in corners of the political system that lay outside the explicit Constitutional order but have attained quasi-Constitutional status, such as political parties, interest groups, and public opinion. This course explores these issues through primary and secondary sources on the American regime.
Syllabus

The American Founding
American political institutions and culture are uniquely the product of ideas and self-conscious choice, and those ideas, in turn, are uniquely the product of experience. Even to the extent that events and evolving values have changed our institutions and the ideas on which they are based, they remain deeply embedded in what might be called our political DNA. To understand who we are today, and what we may or may not aspire to be, it is necessary to understand the foundations of the American republic as well as the ideas that continue to animate our political institutions. Consequently, this course examines the theoretical foundations of the Constitution, beginning with its roots in the early colonial settlements and continuing through the challenges to it that culminated in the Civil War.
Syllabus

Capitalism: For and Against
Is capitalism just, or is it exploitive? Does the value we place on freedom create a negative right to own property free from interference, or a positive right to a certain level of subsistance? Does capitalism ennoble culture, or debase it? Does it empower individuals, or alienate them? To what extent, if any, can capitalism's downsides be mitigated through redistributive schemes? This course will examine these questions through study of some of the seminal philosophical arguments for and against capitalism, from its origins to the present day.
Syllabus

Authority and Legitimacy: Basis and Boundaries of Majority Rule
What gives people in power the right to make and enforce laws? This course examines classic and contemporary conceptions of political authority and legitimacy. What is authority and when is it legitimate? Does legitimate authority depend on the consent of citizens, or on the justice of decisions? Can the people hold ultimate authority over the law, or is this merely empty rhetoric? Authors include Hobbes, Rousseau, Weber, Schmitt, Arendt, Althusser, Wolff, Nozick, and Habermas.
Syllabus

American Political Thought
American political institutions and culture are uniquely the product of ideas and self-conscious choice, and those ideas, in turn, are uniquely the product of experience. Even to the extent events and evolving values have changed our institutions and the ideas on which they are based, they remain deeply embedded in what might be called our political DNA. To understand who we are today, and what we may or may not aspire to be, it is necessary to understand the foundations of the American republic as well as the ideas that continue to animate our political institutions. Consequently, we will spend the bulk of our time in this course examining the theoretical foundations of the Constitution, beginning with its roots in the early colonial settlements and continuing through the challenges to it that culminated in the Civil War. Finally, we will look briefly at how ideas of freedom and the role of government evolved in the late 19th and the 20th centuries.
Syllabus

Contemporary Legacy: The Federalist Papers
The republic in which we live today is vastly different-politically, socially, economically, and culturally-from the one for which the founders wrote the Constitution more than two centuries ago. Still, students of American political thought have long contended that the ideas on which the Constitution was based remain relevant-indeed, that the republic has survived precisely because it was built on ideas that transcend political or economic changes. This course explores that contention by reading the single largest repository of American political ideas-The Federalist Papers-through the lens of current events.
Syllabus

Speechwriting: Composition and Delivery
This is a hands-on, participatory course with a heavy writing commitment and, I hope, a hefty payoff: the ability to write effective speeches for either principals or for yourselves, to deliver in diverse settings and circumstances-from conventions to committee hearings, at commencements or during crises.
Syllabus