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Political Science Department

Government 103 Critical Issues in World Politics

Spring 2005

Professor Kate Graney
Email: kgraney@skidmore.edu
Office Ladd 306 A , x5242

Course Description:

This course serves as an introduction to three of the most important and interesting sub-fields of political science-- political theory, comparative politics and international relations. Each of these subfields is centered around a basic question that encompasses the main themes of the subfield. By the end of the course, you should have a good idea about what types of questions in political science interest you the most, and thus a good idea about what other classes you might like to take in the future in the Government Department and beyond at Skidmore , what types of research projects you may want to pursue in the future in the Government Department and beyond at Skidmore, and so on. Hopefully, you will also learn to approach media coverage of "world politics", "overseas events" and "international crises" with a more critical eye, applying your new knowledge and theoretical insight to help you understand the world around you in a more informed and fulfilling way.

In the first part of the course we examine how the subfield of political theory has sought to answer a fundamental question facing human beings: how do we balance our individual, separate human existences with the fact that we must also live together on Earth as a community (or rather several communities) of people ? In this section, we explore how different political thinkers have addressed this fundamental problem of how we should live both individually and together. More specifically, we will address the following ISMS, or political theories: liberalism, conservatism, socialism, nationalism, feminism, anarchism and religious fundamentalism. Throughout this section of the course, you should be asking yourself how these ideas might actually be translated into political practice, or reality, and asking yourself to what degree you believe IDEAS about politics (political theory) actually influences political behavior or political life in the "real world", if at all.

In the second part of the course, we turn to the question of political practice by comparing different types of political systems. In this introduction to comparative politics we are addressing the extremes of political systems: democracies versus dictatorships. By using this opposition, we are able to examine the goals of different political systems, the institutions they establish to achieve those goals, and the implications of those political systems for the people that live under them. In this section we will use both theoretical articles about democratic and non-democratic political systems as well as personal memoirs from citizens in each of these systems to understand more fully how different political systems function.

In the final part of the course, with acknowledgments to Tolstoy, we examine another great opposition: war and peace. We look at the causes and varieties of war and peace, in the process gaining a broad introduction to the subfield of international relations. In this section, we cover some basic theories about international relations and what drives them, and then look at case studies of some of the major conflicts of the 20th century. We conclude by examining the forces of globalization and the changes (or lack thereof) in the international system in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Required Books Available For Purchase at the Skidmore Shop:

Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies, 3rd edition.
Alfons Heck, A Child of Hitler
Joseph Nye, Jr. Understanding International Conflicts, 5th edition.
Patrick O'Neil and Ronald Rogowski, Essential Readings in Comparative Politics

Other Required Readings:

--PACKET of readings. Individual readings will be listed on day due. I will also occasionally hand out shorter readings that we will cover in class, for example, excerpts from J.S. Mill and Edmund Burke during the unit on ideology.

--DAILY NEWSPAPER. In addition to class reading, you should keep informed about world events by subscribing to (and reading !) the internet edition of the New York Times or another newspaper with a strong international section, such as the Washington Post. You can I will often be referring to world events and NYTimes coverage of these events to illustrate points we are discussing in class--keeping up with these events will not only make class more interesting for you, it will enhance your class participation.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND ASSESSMENT: The Skidmore College mission statement asks faculty to "create a challenging yet supportive environment that cultivates students intellectual and personal excellence, encouraging them to expand their expectations of themselves while they enrich their academic understanding". To do this in the context of this class, I have devised the following assignments. You will find an expanded explanation of and guidelines for each of the assignments, as well as an explanation of my grading policies at the end of this syllabus. READ THESE DOCUMENTS. KEEP THESE DOCUMENTS. REFER TO THEM OFTEN.

1) Class participation: including INFORMED participation in classroom discussions, in-class simulations and small group activities, in-class quizzes and writing assignments, response papers and active interaction with the class email list : (20)%

2) First Midterm Exam: in-class (20%) : Friday February 18

3) Second Midterm Exam: in-class (20%): Wednesday March 23

4) Short papers: (20%) (Two 3-4 page papers, assignments to be handed out in class) : PAPER ONE DUE : Friday February 25 and PAPER TWO DUE: Friday April 1.

5) Final Exam: (20%): As scheduled by the registrar. Please check EARLY in the semester to be sure you do not have a conflict with another exam. Travel plans are not generally a valid excuse for changing an exam – you should check your exam schedule before you make your travel arrangements, not vice versa.


I will be sending out reading and discussion questions on the class email list before every class. It is TRULY in your best interest to use these questions to help guide your reading and your preparation for class EVERY DAY. The questions for the periodic and unannounced quizzes that are part of your class participation grade will be drawn directly from these email questions, and you will be able to use any notes you have taken for these quizzes (though you may not use the readings/ books themselves).

CLASSROOM COMPORTMENT: The mission statement of Skidmore College describes the student body as "a diverse population of talented students who are eager to engage actively in the learning process". While I find this to be true for the vast majority of Skidmore College students, there is unfortunately a small minority who need to be reminded gently of how "students who are eager to engage actively in the learning process" carry themselves in a classroom setting. In short, such students "treat all students, faculty, and staff with respect and in a professional and courteous manner at all times, whether in person or in written communication (including e-mail). "(adapted from the University of Maryland University College Civility Code)

In practice, this means:

--PLEASE DO NOT BE LATE : Entering after class has begun is disrespectful to me and your classmates, and is highly disruptive. Furthermore, if you enter class after I have taken attendance, you are considered absent for the day.
--PLEASE DO NOT BRING FOOD TO CLASS, unless you bring enough for everyone, and this of course is highly encouraged.
--PLEASE DO NOT TALK OR PASS NOTES DURING CLASS : This is rude, distracting junior high behavior that diminshes the classroom experience for me and your peers. If you have a question, please raise your hand so all may benefit from your inquiry.
--PLEASE DO NOT SLEEP IN THIS CLASS: This is rude, distracting pre-school behavior ! If you feel that you are so tired that you cannot participate in class enthusiastically, please stay home. If you sleep, I will wake you up and send you home to your bed where you will be much more comfortable and where sleeping is a much more appropriate activity.
--PLEASE KEEP YOUR FEET OFF THE DESKS AND AT LEAST FEIGN THE APPEARANCE OF TAKING NOTES IN CLASS : No one wants to sit and put their hands where you have put your feet, regardless of their presumed cleanliness.

Class Schedule and Reading Assignments:

Week 1: Wed 1/26: Introduction to course: How should we live ?

Heywood, p.1

Fri 1/28: Liberalism

Heywood, Ch. 2

Week 2: Mon 1/31 : Liberalism, Con't and Conservatism

Heywood, Ch. 3

Wed 2/2 Conservatism, Con't

Fri 2/4: Socialism and Communism

Heywood, Ch. 4 AND Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party" in O'Neil and Rogowski book, Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p 323-335.

Week 3: Mon 2/7 Socialism and Communism, Con't

Wed 2/9 Anarchism

Heywood, Ch. 6 AND "Notes from the Underground: Among the Radicals of the Pacific Northwest", David Samuels, Harpers Magazine, May 2000, PACKET

Fri 2/11: Feminism and Ecologism

Heywood, Ch. 8 and 9

Week 4: Mon 2/14: Feminism and Ecologism, Con't

Wed 2/16 Catch up and Review Section One: ISMs.......


**Start reading Heck, A Child of Hitler

Week 5: Mon 2/21: Begin Section 2: Democracies and Dictatorships

What is a Democracy ? Why is it good?How do you get a democracy ?

"A Brief History of Human Liberty", Fareed Zakaria and "What Democracy Is..and Is Not", Philippe Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, Journal of Democracy, 2:3 (Summer 1991), in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 205-229.

** Continue reading Heck book

Wed 2/23: The State of Democracy in "Advanced" Societies

"Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America", Robert D. Putnam, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 239-266.

Fri 2/25 Continue Advanced Democ. : SHORT PAPER #1 DUE :

"Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare State ? ", Alesina et.al., ,in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 141-151.

Week 6: Mon 2/28 Democracy and Economy in the "Developing" World

"Economic Development and Democracy", Lipset, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 287-300 AND "The Invisible Hand of Democracy", Lake and Baum, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p.415-432 AND "Why Has Africa Grown So Slowly?", Collier and Gunning, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 387-403.

Wed 3/2: Problems of State Weakness in the "Developing World"

"War and the State in Africa", Herbst, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 48-62 AND The New Nature of Nation-State Failure", Rotberg, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 62-69.

Fri 3/4 Varieties of Non-Democratic Regimes : There are SO many to choose from !

"Modern Nondemocratic Regimes", Linz and Stepan AND "Thinking About Hybrid Regimes", Diamond, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 154-177.

Week 7: Mon 3/7 Fascism / Nazi Germany and Italy under Il Duce

Heywood , Ch. 7
Heck, A Child of Hitler, Ch. 1-4

Wed 3/9: Fascism Continued: Life under Hitler

Heck, A Child of Hitler, Ch. 5-10

Fri 3/11: Nazism Continued

Week 8: **SPRING BREAK**

Week 9: Mon 3/21: Catch up and Review Section Two

Wed 3/23: **SECOND MIDTERM**

Fri 3/25: No Class : Begin Reading for 3/30

Week 10: Mon 3/28: No Class

Wed 3/30: Begin Section 3: War and Peace / IR / Levels of
Analysis in International Relations

Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, Ch. 1 and 2 AND Thucydides, "Melian Dialogue", adapted by Suresht Bald, PACKET

Fri 4/1 Continue with Intro to IR :


Week 11: Mon 4/4 World War 1
Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, Ch. 3

Wed 4/6 World War 2 and the Beginning of the Cold War
Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, Ch. 4
and p. 112-131 and "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", George F. Kennan ("X"), PACKET

Fri 4/8 Cold War, Nukes, MAD and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, p. 135 (bottom) - 152 AND Tony Judt "On the Brink", New York Review of Books, PACKET

Week 12: Mon 4/11: Cold War, Con't

Wed 4/13: Vietnam to the End of the Cold War:

Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, p. 131-135, and "A Greek Tragedy in Five Acts—Vietnam", John Stoessinger, and "The Crisis of Confidence Speech", Jimmy Carter, PACKET

Fri 4/15 Describing The Post-Cold War World

Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, Ch. 7 and 8

Week 13: Mon 4/18: Globalization : Yay or Nay ?

Chapter 10: Globalization, in Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 433-462 AND
Nye, Understanding International Conflicts, Ch. 9

Wed 4/20: Globalization, Continued

Fri 4/22 Terrorism and Global Politics

Goldstone, 'States, Terrorists, and the Clash of Civilizations" Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, p. 497-510 , AND "X + 9/11", Robert L. Hutchings, Foreign Policy (July/August 2004), PACKET, and "Smart Power", Suzanne Nossel, PACKET

Week 14: Mon 2/25: Terrorism and Global Politics, continued.

President Bush, "West Point Graduation Speech", PACKET

Wed 4/27: Iraq War and Nation-Building in Iraq, Continued

Articles on Iraqi elections to be handed out in class.

Fri 4/29 and Mon 5/2: Catch-up and Prepare for Final Exam



As noted in the Skidmore College Catalogue on page 51, Grades are assigned on the following basis (NB: a "B" is "superior work", it's official college policy !) :

A -- Distinguished work
A-, B+, B -- Superior work
B-, C+, C --Satisfactory work
C-, D+, D--Passing but poor quality work


--ATTENDANCE: I take attendance and it counts. I expect you to be here and "eager to engage actively in the learning process", and if you aren't, with the exception of a note from a Dr. or Dean, I don't particularly want to know why you aren't. See also policy on quizzes, below.

--READINGS and NOTES: You will be expected to read the assignments for each given class day carefully and completely. These readings and your thoughts about them will be the basis for most of our group discussions.

You should take careful notes on these readings (many of which are quite difficult), paying special attention to the author's arguments / main ideas and the evidence the author provides to bolster their argument. A useful way to review and make sure tha t you understand the reading you are working on is to try to put the author's argument into your own words, and to think of questions you'd like to ask the author about how to clarify or defend her or his argument.

To help you understand and take notes on the readings more effectively, I will be circulating questions for each reading via the class email list.

--QUIZZES / In -Class Writing Assignments/ Response Papers : While reading the assignments is a required and expected part of the class, as an incentive to make sure you complete the readings on time, I will issue a series of UNANNOUNCED in-class writing assignments and quizzes and ANNOUNCED "response paper" assignments. These will occur on average of once a week, for a total of 10 assignments. You will be able to use your NOTES from the readings fo r these assignments, although NOT the readings themselves. If you are keeping up with the reading, these will not be a problem for you. There will not be any make-ups on these quizzes, in-class writing assignments or response papers.

--DISCUSSION PARTICIPATION: While all academics love the sound of their own voices, I'd rather listen to you than myself. In fact, if I don't hear from you voluntarily, you may find yourself called upon…..

--PARTICIPATION IN SMALL GROUP ACTIVITIES IN CLASS : This is also factored in to your overall grade. When we do small group activities in class, I expect you to be working on the assignment at hand eagerly and enthusiastically.

(20% each)

The midterms will be a combination of very short answer (fill in blank or one work answer or multiple choice), short identification answers (one or two paragraphs) and essay questions. They will include material from all class readings, discussions and movies.


The questions for the papers will be handed out two weeks before the due dates.
Guidelines for Papers:
--3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, normal margins, NUMBER PAGES

--While I am mostly interested in your ability to make an argument and support it intelligently , I also evaluate grammar, style, proof-reading and overall evidence of time spent on and concern for the assignment.

--I don't which specific system you use to cite sources, but I do care THAT you cite sources and do so SYSTEMATICALLY and COMPLETELY. Please refer to the Skidmore Guide to Writing for help on when and how to cite sources correctly.


--I will be happy to look at rough drafts and encourage you to bring them to me or to the Skidmore Writing Center.

ASSIGNMENT #6 : Final Exam (25%)
--As scheduled by the registrar. Students are responsible for identifying conflicts with other final exams and coming to speak with me about rescheduling WELL BEFORE the time of the final.