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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Milli M. Lake
POL S 447
Seattle Campus

Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics

Selected comparative political problems, political institutions, processes, and issues in comparative perspective. Strongly Recommended: POL S 204.

Class description

This course is concerned with the political economy of governance and development in sub-Saharan Africa in the decades since independence. The first four weeks of the course will be devoted to a chronology of important historical events in the colonial and post-colonial periods, and the scholarship and debates surrounding them. The second half of the course will explore key themes such as decolonization, globalization, neoliberalism, democratization, global trade and investment, natural resources, foreign aid and conflict. We will examine how some of the common challenges faced by African nations in the post-independence period have shaped individual and collective experiences of economic prosperity and human security.

Student learning goals

Develop skills in reading, writing and analyzing scholarly debates on African politics;

Develop a deep chronological knowledge of some of the common challenges that have faced countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the decades since independence;

Develop an understanding of the different political responses embraced by African leaders and politicians to some of the challenges of the post-colonial period;

Identify major historic influences on relations between African states, their citizens and their economies;

Understand scholarly debates over whether political and economic developments in sub-Saharan Africa can be better explained by the individual agency of specific political actors, or by structural conditions that shape and constrain individual action;

General method of instruction

Close reading; small seminar discussion format; writing-intensive.

Recommended preparation

Previous study of African history and politics strongly recommended; A strong interest in sub-Saharan Africa, post-colonial politics or economic development.

Class assignments and grading

Analytical essays; examinations; individual presentations; in-class simulations.

Grades will be assigned on the basis of in-class participation, weekly quizzes and a final research paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Milli M. Lake
Date: 03/10/2014