POLS 368



Spring 2008
Tentative Course Outline
Instructor: Amanda Bigelow
Office: DuSable 476
Office Phone: 815-753-1818 (don’t leave a message)
Email: A136136@wpo.cso.niu.edu
Blackboard: https://webcourses.niu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp

Department Web Page: http://polisci.niu.edu/polisci/

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:15-9:30 and 10:45-12:00 or by appointment.


Required Texts:
Khapoya,  The African Experience

Thomson, Introduction to African Politics

Hayden, African Politics in Comparative Perspective
Achebe, Things Fall Apart.
Thinongo, Petals of Blood.


Attendance and Class Participation – 20%
Class attendance is required and students should come to class prepared to discuss the materials assigned for that week and to discuss any news items they come across that should be raised for discussion. I hope that students will come to class with insightful questions and/or comments about the assigned readings and news stories, and I will also be calling on students at random to answer some questions of my own. Answers to my questions should show that the student has read and understands the class materials and that she/he has the ability to apply critical thinking skills to those materials. The quality of your contributions is more important than the quantity, but both are expected.

Below are some guidelines that may help you to understand my expectations and how you will be graded on this portion of your grade.


Excellent contributor (A): The student attends class on a regular basis and comes prepared with insightful comments and questions about the course materials. The student also shows a high level of critical thinking in evaluating course materials. The class as a whole benefits highly from this student’s contributions.

Good contributor (B): The student attends class on a regular basis and often comes prepared with insightful comments and questions about the course material. The student also shows some critical thinking in evaluating course materials. The class as a whole generally benefits from this student’s contributions.

Fair contributor (C):
The student attends class more often than not and sometimes comes to class with questions or comments that reflect some insight into the course materials. The student shows some critical thinking in evaluating course materials but often struggles to see beyond personal biases. The class sometimes benefits from this student’s contributions.


Unsatisfactory contributor (D): The student comes to class but is unprepared. Comments are not insightful, are extremely biased or do not benefit the class.


Non-contributor (F): The student either does not maintain regular attendance or attends but does not contribute to class discussions.


Map Quiz – 10%
Students will be required to learn the political and physical geography of Africa . A map of the continent will be provided and a lecture on the geography will be given the second day of class. The date for the quiz is listed in the syllabus.


Novel Quizzes – 20%
An in-class quiz will be given after we have discussed each of the assigned novels. Students should be prepared to answer questions about the novel and its relevance to African political struggles today. You must bring a blue book with you to class on the day of the quiz. Blue books can be purchased in the bookstore for a nominal fee. Dates for each quiz are listed in the syllabus.


Paper - 20%

Students will be required to write a paper on the political process in an African country which will be assigned during the 2nd week of class.  The paper must include a history section that explains the political transition of the country from colonial holding to independence, highlights of how politics in that country have evolved (or devolved) since independence, and the current political challenges facing that country today.  The 8-10 page (body only) paper should be well-researched using scholarly sources (no encyclopedias), referenced using APA style, in 12 point Times New Roman font, with standard 1 inch margins.  A bibliography will be due before midterm, and the due date for the paper and bibliography are listed in the syllabus. 

Exams - 30%
There will be three exams throughout the semester. The dates and topic materials are listed in the syllabus. You must bring a blue book with you to class on exam day. Blue books can be purchased in the bookstore for a nominal fee. Exams will consist of short answer and essay questions. Please come prepared on exam day meaning that you have a thorough understanding of the materials presented in the notes, readings, and class discussions. Make-up exams will only be granted to students who have a valid excuse that can be documented in writing and when I have approved the absence ahead of time.

Academic dishonesty:
Plagiarism or cheating in any form will not be tolerated. All words or ideas that are not your own must be cited in all of the work that is submitted for this course. Anyone caught cheating or plagiarizing will receive a failing grade for the entire course. Additionally, a report of the transgression will be filed with the Chair for the Department of Political Science and the Office of Judicial Affairs.


Final grades:
The grading scale for this course will be as follows:

If you are a student with a cognitive, physical or psychiatric disability you may be eligible for academic support services such as extended test time, texts on tape, note-taking services, etc. If you are interested in receiving support services, please contact the Center for Access-Ability Resources at 753-1303.

Any student who is dealing with personal issues that he/she may find overwhelming or that are interfering with your quality of life at NIU should know that free counseling services are available through the Counseling and Student Development Center located at 200 Campus Life Building. Walk-in appointments are available M-F from 10-4.

Finally, academic assistance is available to all students through the Office of Retention Programs. Students interested in receiving academic support should contact this office at 753-7822. You are also encouraged to discuss your individual needs with the instructor so that your educational experience is a productive one.

In the event that you must withdraw from this course, you are expected to follow established college procedures outlined in the college catalog.


1. Please turn off all cell phones and pagers before coming to class
2. All electronic devices will be prohibited from class on exam days, so please
don’t bring them with you to class.
3. Do not use tobacco products in the classroom.
4. Do not sleep in the classroom.
5. Do not read newspapers or other books, magazines, etc. in class.
6. Do not pack up your things or rustle papers until I have dismissed you from
7. All rules and classroom policies, as well as assignments and due dates, are
subject to change or addition at the instructors discretion; changes or
additions will be announced in class.

NIU is an educational institution where opinions of all types, as long as they are sincere, are welcome. We can learn a lot from each other, but we must conduct ourselves in a respectful manner. Please be courteous to others in the class and if you disagree with their points of view, please show them respect while doing so. Also, do not talk when others are talking and remember that the tone of your voice can often say as much as can words.

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages--one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.


Class Assignment Schedule


Janaury 15th 
Class Procedures and Policies
Discussion: Perceptions of Africa
Reading Assignment: Khapoya, Chapters 1 and 2
Begin Reading Things Fall Apart

January 17th
Discussion: The Physical and Political Geography of Africa
Assignment: African Map Project
January 22nd
Discussion: African Diversity and Homogeneity
Quiz: Map of Africa

Reading Assignment: Khapoya, Chapter 3, Thomson, pg. 7-10

January 24th
Discussion: Lecture: Early Modern Africa

Reading Assignment: Khapoya, Chapter 4, Thomson, pg. 11-30

January 29th
Discussion: African Colonial Experiences

January 31st
Book quiz #1:
Things Fall Apart

Discussion: Things Fall Apart

Reading Assignment: Khapoya, Chapters 5 and 6, Thomson Chapter 3

Begin reading Petals of Blood
February 5th

Discussion: African Nationalism and Independence

Reading Assignment: Thomson, Chapters 4 and 5


February 7th
Discussion: African Independence Continued


February 12th
Book quiz #2:
Petals of Blood

Discussion: Petals of Blood

February 14th

Discussion: Effects of Colonialism on Africa today

February 19th
Exam I - Materials to date

Reading Assignment: Thomson, Chapter 8


February 21st
Discussion: The Cold War’s Effect on Africa


February 26th

Discussion: The Cold War Continued

Reading Assignment: Thomson, Chapters 6-7 and 10, Hyden, Chapters 4-6

February 28th

Discussion: Legitimacy Continued
Reading Assignment: Hyden, Chapter 7, Thomson, Chapter 9

Paper Bibliographies due in class.


March 4th
Discussion: Africa’s Struggle with Development
Reading Assignment: Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa http://www.undp.org/hiv/publications/issues/english/issue27e.html

Uganda AIDS Commission (read over the website) http://www.aidsuganda.org/


March 6th
Discussion: How AIDS affects African Development


March 8-16th - Spring Recess


March 18th
Discussion: AIDS and Development continued

Video: Seeing is Believing

Reading Assignment:  Why Can’t Africa Tackle Poverty? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7013764.stm





March 20th
African Development

Reading Assignment: The West helps, and Harms, as Southern Africa seeks food by Danna Harmand and No Cash in This Crop by Joe Asila, Hyden, Chapter 10

March 25th

Discussion: African Food Security

Videos: The Perfect Famine and The Trade Trap

Reading Assignment: A Woman’s Rite by Nikki van der Gaag http://www.newint.org/features/2004/11/01/womans-rite/

Women: The Neglected Human Resource for Human Development, Canadian Journal of African Studies (JSTOR)

March 27th

Discussion: The Plight of African Women 

April 1st
Exam II - Material post Exam I.

Reading Assignment: Hyden, Chapters 1-3


April 3rd
Discussion: Comparative Politics and Africa

Reading Assignment: Thomson Chapters 10-12, Hyden Chapters 11-12

April 8th 
Discussion: African Politics

Chapter 8, Michael Bratton, State Building and Democratization in Africa and Country Studies of South Africa and Botswana (can be linked to in blackboard)


April 10th

Discussion: Africa’s Liberal Democracies - Case Studies of South Africa


Reading Assignment: Country Studies of Ghana, Senegal and Malawi (blackboard)

Final Papers Due in Class

April 15th 
Discussion: Africa’s Electoral Democracies - Case Studies of Ghana, Senegal and Malawi
Reading Assignment: Country Studies - Nigeria, Tanzania and Sierra Leone (blackboard)


April 17th

Discussion: Africa’s Semi-Democracies - Case Studies of  Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone

Reading Assignment: Country Studies of Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe (blackboard)



April 22nd

Discussion: Africa’s Competitive Authoritarian States - Case Studies of Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe

Reading Assignment: Country Studies of Uganda, Chad and Liberia (blackboard)


April 24th

Discussion: Africa’s Hegemonic Authoritarian States - Case Studies of Uganda, Chad, and Liberia

Reading Assignment: Country Studies of Congo (DRC), Somalia, and The Sudan


April 29th

Discussion: Africa’s Unreformed Authoritarian States - Case Studies of Congo (DRC), Somalia, and The Sudan


May 1st

Exam III – Materials Post-Exam II