Steven W. Collins
Explores the juncture of political ideology with political experience in the context of such widespread ideas as nationalism, democracy, and socialism, and their diverse manifestations in contemporary political movements and systems.
This course is about political ideas and political thinking. The purpose is to introduce, compare, and analyze a few of the great political questions that have challenged thinkers throughout history: Are humans by nature selfish and suspicious? What would human society be like without government? Is it possible to abolish inequality without destroying liberty? What are the proper ends of government? What is justice, and under what political conditions is it attainable? Are democracy and liberty compatible? Students will evaluate the answers that some of history's greatest thinkers have given to these questions and assess their contemporary relevance. Asian, Middle Eastern, and Western perspectives on democracy and human rights will also be compared and contrasted.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Students should expect about half the class-time to be devoted to lecture and half to a combination of small-group and whole-class discussion.
No prior coursework on this subject is presumed or required. The best preparation: any courses and experiences that have developed your ability to think, read, and write clearly and critically.
Class assignments and grading
Two essays, about 6 pages each. In-class mid-term exam (identification/multiple choice and short answer questions). In-class final exam covering material since mid-term (same structure as mid-term but with addition of one essay question). In-class small-group exercises. Participation in one in-class debate.
Two essays (about 45 percent) Two exams (about 30 percent) Small-group exercises (about 10 percent) In-class debate (about 10 percent) Participation in open class discussion (about 5 percent)