Introduction to Political Science

Political Science 111

Fall 2008

 

Dr. Sean Evans

Office: PAC A-38

Phone: (731) 661-5237

Email: sevans@uu.edu

 

Introduction

 

            What is political science?  What do political scientists study?  How do political scientists study political events, behavior, and institutions?  This course seeks to introduce you to the discipline by answering these questions through discussions of major issues facing the nation and world.  At the same time, we hope to make you a better informed citizen and a more effective consumer of information while improving your analytical and communication skills and piquing your interest so you will further your study in political science. Third, we hope that you fnd the correct balance between idealism and realism to enact your ideals in the “real” world. Finally, we hope that you see that understanding how the world works and why gives you a better understanding of how God expects us to live in community with each other.

 

Course Requirements

 

This course will primarily be a discussion based course.  This makes it very important that you (1) read the assigned material before class and (2) keep up with current events.  Keeping up with the readings and the news will increase your chance of getting the most out of class and improving your analytical and communication skills. 

The book for this class is:

 

Shively, W. Phillips. 2008. Power and Choice: An Introduction to Political Science.  NY:  McGraw Hill.

 

This book is available from the Lifeway bookstore and other outlets. The readings from the other portions of the class will be available on the internet or on the shared O:/ drive in the psc111f08 folder of the sevans folder.  Please complete the readings by the assigned day.

For current events information, I suggest that you read one of the national papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.  There are links to these resources and many more on my webpage at www.uu.edu/personal/sevans/_private/news.htm.  Finally, Union provides a free USA Today to students each morning outside the cafeteria and library.  If nothing else, please try to pick up and read a copy of that. 

 

Grading.  Your grade from this class will come from two exams, the SimGovernment group paper, a worldview paper, and class discussion.  Exams will primarily be short answer though they will test your ability to critique, analyze, and synthesize information. Each exam is worth 20% of your grade.  There are also no make-up exams so if you miss an exam, the final counts twice.

Even though this is a freshman level class, I have high expectations for your performance in this class.  Just as we expect Union’s athletic teams to compete for conference and national championships, you should expect your education to help you compete regionally and nationally with your peers.  Consequently, I hold you to the high standards that allow you to compete successfully in the marketplace.  Of course, I will make every effort to work with you to help you achieve these expectations.

While I have high expectations, I do, however, reserve the right to curve grades to your benefit.  In addition, what is important is what you know at the end of the semester and not at the beginning.  Therefore, if a student makes substantial improvement over the course of the semester, the student’s grade is based on his or her work at the end of the semester (e.g., D on first test but A on last test and active participation, A for the course). 

After exams are returned, you must wait 24 hours before discussing the exam with me.  This serves as both a cooling off period and as a time for you to reflect upon the exam and what you may have done wrong.  We will then sit down and discuss any problems you may have had with the exam, how we can correct this, and how you can improve over the course of the semester.  If I make a mistake, I will rectify that but I do not engage in point grubbing.

 

Participation.  I expect all of you to participate in class. This is a means of improving your communication skills and a means of determining how well you are learning the material.  Moreover, the subject matter is new to many of you and so may be difficult. Therefore, feel free to ask questions.  Nine times out of ten, if you have a question, there are usually several of your colleagues with the same question.  By asking questions, you help yourself and your colleagues.  If you are still confused, I am more than happy to discuss the class either before or after class or by phone or email.  In our class discussions though, I expect you to treat your classmates with the respect that you would like to be accorded when you are speaking. 

Class participation is worth 10% of your grade and is assessed on the basis of class attendance and participation.  In assessing your participation, I take into account quality and quantity of comments but put a greater focus on quality.  As a suggestion, I find that students increase their ability to participate by reading and bringing the relevant reserve readings and textbook to class.  Finally, when and/or if I curve test or final grades, I reserve the right to withhold the curve from students who never attend class. 

 

SimGovernment. To better understand the different types of governments, the class will break into groups that will form nations around different types of governments (parliamentary democracy, presidential democracy, one party state, military junta, and a theocracy and/or monarchy). Students will use time in class to name their country, write a preamble to their constitution, choose their electoral and party system, interest group system, and type of legislative, executive, and judicial branch. While using class time, students should discuss what they choose and why for each section and why the other type of system(s) are inappropriate for your state. If you use your time wisely, you can use the class time to write your paper though it may require some outside work. For this to work though, students must have done their reading before class. This paper will count as 20% of your grade and will be in lieu of a second exam. Moreover to prevent free-riding, each student in your group will be able to assess your participation in the group which will influence your grade for the paper.

Political Worldview Paper. Students are also responsible for writing a political worldview paper. At Union, we talk about developing a Christian worldview so it is necessary for us to apply this to our individual disciplines. Consequently, students will write a 5-7 page paper on their political worldview that discusses how their conception of human nature relates to their ideas of equality, power, change, and policy. In other words, what do you believe and why? Students have the option of turning in a rough draft on or after Oct. 14 with the final draft due Nov. 20. More information will be provided in class. This paper is worth 20% of your grade.

 

Writing. In writing your SimGovernment and worldview paper, please write in a clear and organized fashion.  Be sure to include a thesis, topic sentences, introduction, conclusion, etc.  While this is not a grammar course, an integral part of communication is good grammar.  As such, I will stop reading any paper that has not been spell checked or grammar checked (it is usually easy to tell) and assign that paper an F.  Since the simulation paper requires some outside research, proper citations are required and rules against plagiarism are enforced.  Also, please type, double space, properly format the paper, etc.  For more information, please check out my Writing Guide at www.uu.edu/personal/sevans/wrtngguide.htm. The book review is due Nov. 19.

 

Extracurricular.  Students are expected to attend any special political events this semester.

 

Cheating.  Don’t do it.  Anyone caught cheating receives an automatic “F” for the course and will be referred to the appropriate authorities for further punishment. 

 

Communication Devices.  Please turn off all cell phones and other portable electronic devices while in my class.  Your life is not so important that you need to answer the phone or text your friend immediately.  If found using any such device, I reserve the right to answer the phone and/or read your text message to the class. Moreover, I will confiscate your communication device until the next class meeting. Therefore, if you have an emergency necessitating having the communication device on, please let me know before the class.

 

Special Needs.  Students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations should discuss options with the instructor the first week of class. 

 

The Syllabus.  I reserve the right and prerogative to modify the syllabus in accordance with student and professorial needs.  The syllabus should not be construed as a contract.

 


Class Outline

 

Sept. 9 Introduction – What is Politics?

 

Sept. 11 Politics and the Common Good

 

Sept. 16 Utopias, Political Theory, and Ideology  

 

Sept. 18 Liberalism

Ball and Dagger “Liberalism”

Shively, Ch. 2

 

Sept. 23 Conservatism

Ball and Dagger “Conservatism”  

 

Sept. 25 Marxism/Socialism

Heywood, “Socialism”

 

Sept. 30 Feminism

Heywood “Feminism”

 

Oct. 2 Christian Responses

Selections from Pope John Paul II, Abraham Kuyper, and John Howard Yoder

 

Oct. 7 Your Political Worldview

 

Oct. 9 First Exam

 

Oct 14 Why Government?

Shively, Ch. 3 and choose groups for nations

Draft Politics and Worldview Paper Due

 

Oct. 16 Fall Break

 

Oct. 21 SimGovernment: Environment/Political Culture –

Shively, Ch. 8

 

Oct. 23 SimGovernment: Democracy or Autocracy?

Shively, Ch. 7

 

Oct. 28 SimGovernment: Constitutions

Shively, Ch. 9

 

Oct. 30 SimGovernment: Parties and Elections

Shively, Chs. 10-11

 

Nov. 4 SimGovernment: Interest Groups & Social Movements

Shively, Chs. 12-13

 

Nov. 6 Discuss Election Results

 

Nov. 11 SimGovernment: President or Prime Minister?

Shively, Chs. 14-15

Election Day – Vote or Fail!

 

Nov. 13 SimGovernment: Courts

Shively, Ch. 17

 

Nov. 18 Domestic Policies

Shively, Ch. 4

 

Nov. 20 Economic Policies

Shively, Ch. 5

Political Worldview Paper Due

 

Nov. 25 The Global System

Shively, Ch. 8

 

Nov. 26-28 Thanksgiving Break

 

Dec. 2 Realism v Liberalism

 

Dec. 4 Why Nations Fight

 

Dec. 9 Terrorism

 

Dec. 11 Iraq and the Middle East

 

Dec. 18 9am Final Exam