Course description: What is politics? How do our political beliefs and fundamental values such as freedom, equality, and justice influence public policies and governmental decisions? What are some of the major challenges faced by our democratic system today? How can we ensure equal opportunities for all the citizens? Is there a need for a
new national consensus? How do we become more informed citizens to be able to offer solutions for the urgent problems, which need to be dealt with as we enter the twenty first century?
Course Format: This course is a discussion seminar where you will be conversing a great deal about politics. My expectations are that you will ask a lot of questions and seek answers through discussions. We will address many contemporary problems but we will also reflect on perennial concerns such as justice, freedom, fair representation, effective governance and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic system.
" To possess ideas is to gather flowers, to think is to weave them into garlands". Greek Proverb
The learning goals for the course are to become politically
informed. In other words, it is expected that you will
• gain awareness of different political values and beliefs,
• learn to reflect on significant political questions and controversies of our time
• understand the experiences of others, who are different from you so you can evaluate the influence of race, ethnicity, class, gender and different life experiences on one’s beliefs and political choices, and
• develop your own political perspective based on the readings and class discussions on the changing contours of our political system, and its priorities for future.
This course is a required course for all Political Science
majors, however it is open to non-majors. It has two core
designations, writing and gender flags. This means that you will be expected to do a significant amount of writing and
you will also learn the basics of gender analysis and its connections to politics and public policies.
The requirements of the course are that you come prepared for a discussion on the readings each class. This course is run as a discussion seminar. Your class participation will
contribute 30% of your grade. It is hoped that you will learn to listen carefully, reflect on the comments and engage in a productive discussion. A group goal for the course is to facilitate each one to become an excellent discussion leader and participant.
"S/he who asks the questions cannot avoid the answers"
You will be writing several short papers on the books we will read. In addition to short papers, there would be film reviews, in class writing as well as lecture reviews. By the end of the semester, it is expected that you will become politically aware of your own values, beliefs, and be able to reflect on major political concerns of our nation and communities. Your final requirement for the course will be to write a political autobiography (7-10 page double spaced typed). Instructions will be given to assist you in fulfilling this task.
Grade components of this course
In class writing and short reviews 150 points
Discussion & class participation 300 points
Short papers on readings 250 points
Political Autobiography 300 points
Attendance Policy: You are expected to be in class every time. For documented reasons, you may be permitted to miss a couple of classes. It is your responsibility to inform the reasons for missing a class, and for making up the missed work. I deduct 25 points for each absence from the final score. After three absences your grade will be
dropped by a letter grade and fourth absence results in F.
Items needed for this course: Please purchase a three ring Portfolio binder for this course, as you are required to keep all class writings in it. This portfolio will be used for assessment purposes of the department.
The following books have been chosen for the course. They are available at the CSB Bookstore; please purchase them right away. You will also be readings some articles which would be copied and distributed to you in class.
1. R. Mark Tiller, Big Ideas: An Introduction to Ideologies in American Politics (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997)
2. Sophocles, The Theban Plays (New York: Penguin Books, 1947)
3. John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (New York: Penguin Plays, 1982)
4. Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown, By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race (New York: Penguin-Putnam, 2000)
5. Ted Conover, Coyotes (New York: Vintage, 1987)
6. Sahar Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (New York, Interlink Press, 2000)
7. Virginia Cyrus, Experiencing Race, Class and Gender in the United States (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2000, 3ed)
8. Three Ringed Portfolio Binder from the CSB Bookstore
Additional readings will be on reserve or given as handouts.
Schedule of Readings