I am very passionate about my teaching – on and off campus. I have been very fortunate that my research interests align with my teaching obligations – namely in the area of Political Thought and Genocide Studies. A selection of my current course load can be found below.
I have been equally fortunate to be working with amazing students; students who are willing to go above and beyond the course requirements:
While studying Judith Butler’s Precarious Life in my Contemporary Political Thought class in 2013, students took the initiative to turn their regular essay assignment on Butler into thought provoking papers, using the authors framework to digest the Boston Marathon bombing that took place during that semester. Feeling very moved by their efforts to let ‘theory speak to practice’, I made sure that some of the extraordinary papers were published in Northeastern’s Political Review.
Courses in 2015/2016
Comparative Genocide Studies [POLS7366_Genocide_ProfBormann_Syllabus_Spring2016]
Against the backdrop of the horrors of the Holocaust and Rwanda in particular, but also more recent events in general, this seminar explores a set of pressing questions: how does genocide come to take place? How can we come to terms with genocide? How is genocide represented, representable, remembered – and to what effect? To what extent can we prevent genocide? The seminar addresses these questions in three parts; Part I introduces key approaches to studying genocide. Part II examines possible motivations for genocide to occur. Part III deals with ways to prevent genocide.
Modern Political Thought [POL2328_ModernPoliticalThought_ProfBormann_Spring2016]
This course has two main aims: The first is to introduce students to a range of authors who are considered to be most influential in shaping western political thought, and who remain highly relevant in informing contemporary political debate. The second is to encourage students to think critically about some of the fundamental questions pertaining to political practice – the nature of ideas, institutions and processes, and how to understand and evaluate them.
In each section, we introduce and counter-pose the views of two theorists who have provided different ideas about a major theoretical question. Authors studied will include Hobbes, Kropotkin, Bentham, Locke, Burke, Mill, Rousseau and Marx. Based on close readings of their main work, and the socio-historical context within which their work was generated, we will assess the meaning and implications of their ideas and concepts (such as freedom and individual rights) for today. At the end of each section, a case study session is designed to facilitate in-depth discussion about the authors by examining how they might be relevant to the world we live in now.
Contemporary Political Thought [POL2338_ContemporaryPoliticalThought_ProfBormann_Spring2015]
This course is designed to introduce students to a range of positions in contemporary political thought, familiarizing them with key texts, authors, and debates, such as those concerning critiques of sovereign power, ethics, and pluralism. It introduces students to a range of methodological and theoretical approaches associated with these texts and explores some of their implications in the assessment of modern societies, their values and institutional arrangements. The course seeks to develop in students the ability to critically reflect on the nature and scope of political discourse.
International Relations Theory [POL7207_IR Theory_NBormann_SyllabusFall2014]
This course is designed to familiarize students with the ‘canon’ of international relations. We will explore the historical and contemporary themes of the discipline, and critically discuss these in the context of the ontological, epistemological, and methodological claims raised by a range of key theorists and their seminal works.
Europe and the EU [Europe and the EU_POLS7370_NBormann_Fall2013]
The European Union is a polity that is subject to an ongoing process of reorientation. Neyer and Wiener (2011) ingeniously compare the EU to a ship that has set sail and finds itself in uncharted waters of very high seas, while the ship is still under construction – the sailors have neither a plan what the complete ship ought to look like, nor a captain with the authority to propose a plan or guarantee its implementation. This story of the sailors on a ship under construction neatly captures many of the difficulties that the EU and Europe face: it points to the difficulties of deciding on the direction, the degree, on finding adequate strategies.
This course introduces students to the debates surrounding Europe and the EU, the processes and developments integral to them, and approaches and frameworks necessary for understanding these debates.