POLS 260: Foreign and Comparative Politics

Fall 2003, MWF, DuSable 459

Section 1: 12:00 – 12:50 p.m.

Instructor: Nicole J. Yi-Wohlers Office Hours: M: 10:30-12:00 p.m.

Office: DuSable 461 and by appointments

Phone: 753-1818 E-mail: soldate@aol.com

Course Overview

Welcome to the world of comparative politics. This course is designed to introduce and examine political systems outside of the United States. Since it is impossible to study all 170+ nation-states in the world, we will focus on several countries that serve as examples of different styles of politics conducted in various settings. Great Britain, Germany, Russia, China, and Japan are selected to illustrate their historical developments, key political institutions, and political culture.

Course Policies

  • The Learning Environment. Each student’s active involvement in, commitment to, and responsibility for their education are clearly required. It is important that students conduct themselves in ways that indicate respect for the learning community and the learning process. Respect for the learning community precludes such behavior as persistent tardiness, leaving the room during class time, falling asleep, reading the newspaper, and studying for another class. NIU policies regarding classroom conduct are discussed in the 2002-03 Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 48 and 301.
  • Readings: Please purchase a copy of the textbook for this course: Michael G. Roskin. Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture, 8th edition (Prentice Hall, 2004) at the NIU Bookstore or Village Commons Bookstore. Some short readings may also be handed out in class or placed on reserve at Founders Memorial Library’s Reserve desk.
  • Lectures: Lectures will parallel and complement, not just merely repeating the material in the textbook. You are responsible for the material covered in the readings as well as in the lectures. You are expected to complete all the reading assignments for each date before coming to class.
  • Adjustments in Course Schedule: While I will try to follow the course schedule outlined accordingly, reasonable adjustments may be made if unforeseeable or uncontrollable circumstances so warrant.
  • Incompletes: No incompletes will be given for reasons other than a medical or personal emergency and then only after presentation of verifiable documentation. Academic hardship does not qualify as an acceptable excuse.

Course Requirements and Grading

  • Exams: A mid-term exam, scheduled for October 10, will be comprised of objective questions (i.e. multiple choice and perhaps some true/false) and an essay. The final exam, scheduled for December 8, will follow the same format and will cover only the second half of the semester. MAKEUP EXAMS WILL NOT BE GIVEN, except at the discretion of the instructor in case of emergencies. In such cases, the instructor must be notified prior to the exam date.
  • Journals: Beginning at the second week of class, each student is required to turn in 2 to 3-page essays (double spaced / font 12) dealing with political issues in foreign countries other than the United States. First half of the paper should provide summary and description of the event concerned and the second half of the paper should analyze the selected event based on your personal opinion.

These short essays are due on Friday at the end of class every two weeks. (See journal deadline below) You may turn in up to 7 journals and the 5 best will be counted toward your final grade. Late journals will not be accepted.

Some excellent sources of international news include the hard copy and online versions of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor and the BBC World News.

Journal due dates:

Journal 1 – September 5 Journal 5 – October 31

Journal 2 – September 19 Journal 6 – November 14

Journal 3 – October 3 Journal 7 – December 5

Journal 4 – October 17

  • Quizzes: There will be 8 unannounced quizzes given in class throughout the semester. These quizzes will deal with the reading assigned for that particular day and the 5 best will be counted toward your final grade.
  • Attendance and Participation: - Please note that attendance accounts for half of your participation grades. Attendance will be taken at every class. After the first week of class, all students will sit in permanently assigned seats to facilitate the checking of attendance.

- If you have 2 or fewer recorded absences, 2 points will be added to your course average. If you have 3 or 4

recorded absences, 1 point will be added to your course average. (This is the only extra credit available).

  • Keep in mind that frequent tardiness will adversely affect your grade.

- Please do not leave class early without prior permission, as this is very distracting. I will count any

"walkouts" as absences unless the student has permission or there is an emergency.

- The participation portion of your final grade is designed to reward those students who come to class prepared. Satisfactory class participation requires that students are present and attentive as well as contributing to class discussion in a manner that reflects they have read the required materials.

  • Grading: Midterm (30%)

Final (35%)

Journals (15%)

Quizzes (10%)

Participation (10%)

Topics and Readings

  1. Introduction: Comparing Political Systems

August 25 Introduction to Course

August 27 – September 3 The Concept of Country and Looking for Quarrels

(No Classes on 8/29 and 9/1) Readings: Roskin Chapter 1

September 5 Comparing Polities: Democratization

Readings: Chapter 1 continued

  1. Great Britain

September 8-12 Impact of the Past and Political Culture

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 2

Roskin, Chapter 4

September 15-19 Government Institutions and Election and Parties

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 3

Roskin, Chapter 5

September 22 Quarrels

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 6

  1. Germany

September 24-29 Impact of the Past and Political Culture

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 12

Roskin, Chapter 14

October 1-6 Government Institutions and Elections and Parties

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 13

Roskin, Chapter 15

October 8 Quarrels

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 16

  1. Midterm

October 10 Midterm

  1. Russia

October 13-17 Impact of the Past and Political Culture

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 17

Roskin, Chapter 19

October 20-24 Government Institutions and Elections and Parties

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 18

Roskin, Chapter 20

October 27 Quarrels

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 21

  1. China

October 29-November 3 Impact of the Past and Political Culture

Readings: Roskin, pg. 416-422

Roskin, pg. 430-433

November 5-10 Governmental Institutions Readings: Roskin, pg. 424-428

Roskin, pg. 436-439

November 12 Quarrels

Readings: Roskin, pg. 440-447

  1. Japan

November 14-19 Impact of the Past and Political Culture

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 22

Roskin, Chapter 24

November 21- 24 Government Institutions and Elections and Parties

and December 1 Readings: Roskin, Chapter 23

Roskin, Chapter 25

November 26-28 No Class (Thanksgiving Break!)

December 3 Quarrels

Readings: Roskin, Chapter 26

  1. Final Exam

December 8 Final Monday 12:00-1:50 p.m.


Additional Important Policies

  • Academic Integrity: Students are expected to know and comply with NIU policies on academic integrity. Any student found guilty of cheating will receive and "F" for the course. He or she may also be subjected to additional sanctions imposed by the University.
  • Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Undergraduate Writing Awards: Papers written courses in the Department of Political Science are eligible for the Department’s undergraduate writing award. Your hard work could earn you $50, a certificate, and a nice line on your resume. Papers written in Fall 2003 are due on February 28, 2004. See the Department website for more details below.
  • Department of Political Science Website: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://www.niu.edu/acad/polisci/pols.html