Political Science 260-1
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Office: Zulauf 113
Office Hours: Monday ; Tuesday
This course is an introduction to Comparative Politics. It is designed to introduce the tools, techniques, and topics of comparative politics. We begin by discussing the nature of comparative politics. Is politics a science? an art? madness? something else? We then turn to some more basic and more difficult questions. Who are we? Here we will explore the nature of identity and its relationship to politics. Nation, religion, and ethnicity are all sources of identity powerful enough to cause tremendous destruction in our world, and will all be considered. Next, how do we participate? Here we will examine how people participate in various types of states around the world. How are we governed? Since politics and politicians have a major impact on our daily lives, we will explore how political systems work. How does democracy come about? Over the last two decades, thousands of people like you and I have battled armed soldiers in the streets in order to win the right to participate in a democratic system. Soldiers from many countries have worked in peace-keeping roles to help establish democracies in various nations. We will try to understand the reasons they care so passionately. Finally, we ask perhaps the most intriguing questions of all: Where do we go from here? Is globalization our future? Does the future hold peace and prosperity? Or war and chaos?
The assigned textbook is Martin Needler, Identity, Interest, and Ideology (Westport: Praeger, 1996). I have chosen this text because it is organized around concepts, it is only 250 pages, and it is inexpensive. We will be reading most of the book over the course of the semester. We will also be making extensive use of the university’s Blackboard Academic Suite software in the class, with an outline of the key points in each lecture provided to you there. Please check it regularly for announcements as well. If you have not previously used Blackboard, you should learn how to use it for this course. For general information on the department and faculty, see the department website, http://polisci.niu.edu/
In the course, there will be two tests and one assignment. The tests are to assess your knowledge of the material, and your ability to think critically. The test will not require memorizing historical facts, but will focus on your understanding of concepts and patterns. The assignment will allow you to apply one or more of the concepts we study to specific countries or events that interest you. The assignment should be about 7-8 pages. More information will be provided in class. One extra credit assignment, worth up to 5%, is available at your option.
Mid-term 30% October 16
Paper 30% November 13
Final 40% As Scheduled by NIU
Assignments should be handed-in to a Department secretary in ZU 415 to be time-stamped and recorded. Any assignment that is not handed in according to this procedure will be deemed to have arrived only on the day a secretary receives it. In other words, if you slip it under my door, it is considered to have arrived only when I give it to the secretary, which may be several days after you slip it under the door. This is to ensure that there is verification for all assignments received.
Students are to arrive at class on time. Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, it is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.
Plagiarism is the use without proper acknowledgement of the ideas or work of another person. To do so is cheating. All quotations and all paraphrasing of the ideas of others must be referenced. All sources, including the internet, must be clearly referenced by a recognised form of footnotes, endnotes or in‑text referencing, and in a bibliography. The Undergraduate Catalog states: "students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university."
Note that all internet referencing must include the author or institution in the reference, and with all of your sources, but particularly with the internet, you must be careful to use only reputable works that are appropriate to academic writing.
Late work will be penalized at the rate of up to 5 percent per day. Since students have been given the assignment on the first day of class, late penalties will be waived only in extreme circumstances.
Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances. If such circumstances arise, please contact me as soon as possible and where possible before the scheduled exam. Students will be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. No makeup exam will be allowed unless arrangements are made before the regularly scheduled exam has been graded and returned.
Incomplete requests will be granted only in unusual circumstances, when supported with documentation. Missing an exam in itself is not a reason for an incomplete.
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
I will endeavor to answer email in a timely manner. However, I do not access my email every day, particularly on the weekends. As a general guideline, you should expect that a response to your email may be no quicker than meeting me during my office hours. You should be aware that email messages can go awry, while coming to my office guarantees that I am made aware of your problem. Keep in mind, too, that your tuition helps to pay for the time I devote to students during my office hours, so don’t be shy about coming to see me. Make an appointment to see me outside office hours if necessary.
Please note: Do not expect to do well in the class if you do not attend the lectures. The readings are not a substitute for attending class.
Reading: Please read the political news
in a daily newspaper (New York Times,
1. Introduction: World Politics and Its Parts (August 28)
Section One. Tools and Techniques
2. The Science in Political Science: A Tool Kit? (August 30)
3. Insanity and Reason: Other Tool Kits (September 6)
Section Two. Who Are We?
Identities and Politics
4. It’s in the Blood? Ethnicity (September 11)
5. Heavenly Creatures: Religion, Identity, and Politics (September 13)
6. Imagine That: Nationalism (September 18)
7. Waving the Flag: Official Nationalism (September 20)
8. Humpty Dumpty Had A Great Fall: Nationalism after Communism (September 25)
9. Globalization (September 27)
Section Three. How do we participate?
10. Something Old Something New: Traditional and Neo-Traditional Government (October 2)
11. Big Brother: Tyrannies (October 4)
12. One is the Loneliest Number: One Party States (October 9)
13. I Wanna Be Elected: Elections and Participation (October 11)
14. Midterm (October 16)
Section Four. How are decisions made?
15. Talking Heads: Prime Ministers and Presidents (October 18)
16. We the People…Written Constitutions (October 23)
17. Red Tape? Bureaucrats and Bureaucracy (October 25)
18. Its Party-Time! Political Parties (October 30)
19. Broken Institutions: Corruption (November 1)
20. Broken Institutions Too: Militaries and Politics (November 6)
Section Four. How Does Democracy Come About?
21. It's Raining, Jim Must Have Washed His Car: Wealth and Democratic Development (November 8)
22. Power to the People! Democratic Uprisings (November 13)
Note: Paper Due
23. A Democratic Uprising in a
24. Political Culture: Six Strokes of the Cane (November 20)
Section 5. Where Are We Going?
25. The End of History? Liberalism, Neo-liberalism and the IMF (November 27)
26. Clashing Civilizations and World Disorder? (November 29)
28. Review for the Exam (December 6)