Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science

Spring 2010, Dusable 461

Section 2: M, W & F, 11—11:50



Course Instructor:     Professor Kheang Un, Ph.D.

                                    Office:  Zulauf 411

                                     Tel: (815) 753-1022

 Office Hours: 9:00-11:00 Monday and Wednesday, and by appointment

                                     E-mail: kun1@niu.edu


This course is NIU’s introduction to the study of political systems outside the United States.  As such, it has two main goals.  First, it will give you a chance to study the politics of particular countries you probably know little about.  Second, it seeks to convey analytical approaches to the study of politics and to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on some of the essential questions, old and new, with which students of politics have to grapple.  Your new understanding from this class should enhance your role as citizens in a democracy, i.e., enable you to make more informed judgments on the policies that our leaders propose to follow in dealing with foreign countries.


To achieve its comparative goal, this course will examine the political systems of Great Britain, Japan, China, Russia, and Iran.


Course Policies and Requirements


1.  The Learning Environment. Your instructor is committed to the principle of active learning.  This principle requires students’ active involvement in, commitment to, and responsibility for their own education.  Hence, 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 should preclude such behavior as persistent tardiness, leaving the room during class time (unless prior advice was given to the instructor or in case of emergency), falling asleep, reading the newspaper, studying for another class, and chatting with others.


2. Readings and Lecture. Please purchase a copy of textbook for this course:  Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture 10th edition at the Student Center or at the Village Common Bookstore.  Assigned readings outside the textbook are available on course blackboard.   Some short readings may also be distributed in class.


Lectures will parallel and compliments the readings.  As such, students cannot just rely solely on lectures or readings.


3. Class attendance and Participation.  Attendance at all class sessions is expected, and the instructor will check the attendance regularly.  Students are allowed to miss the class a total five times during the semester.  An additional absence will result in lowering the final grade by one letter.  Informed participation in class discussion will significantly help students in borderline grade situations.


4. Exams, Quizzes, and Written Assignments.  This course will have two exams taken in class.  The first exam (which is worth 30 percent of the total grade), will be on February 26.  The final exam, worth 40 percent of the total grade, will be taken during the regular final exam day, Wed. May 5, 10-11:50 a.m..  The format of each exam will be a combination of essay, short answer, and multiple-choice.  No make up exam will be offered, except in cases of emergency, as defined by the instructor, and with advance notification.  Group written assignments will be worth 20 percent.  The class will be divided into five groups and each group will engage in periodical discussion on current issues (quarrels) in each of five countries covered in this class.  Students are required to do extra research for group written reports (a minimum of five up-to-date sources are required).  There will also be some pop quizzes given without prior notice.  The total points from all quizzes will be worth 10 percent of the total course grade.


5. Course Grade.  Course Grades will be distributed as follows:

            Final Average                                      Final Grade

            90-100 %                                             A

            80-89 %                                               B

            70-79%                                                C

            60-69%                                                D

            Below 60%                                         F


6. Academic Integrity.  Students are expected to know and comply with NIU polices on academic integrity (see p. 47 of 2001 Undergraduate Catalog).  Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the examination and the course.  He or she may also be subject to additional sanctions imposed by the university.


7. 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 $50.00. 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.


8. 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.


9. Department of Political Science Web Site.  Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science’s web site 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://polisci.niu.edu



 Introduction to the course



Key Concepts

Reading: Roskin, pp.1-15.



Key Concepts continued

Reading:Roskin, pp. 1-15.

Philippe Schmitter and Terry Karl, “What Democracy Is … and Is Not?” Journal of Democracy, vol. 2, no 3 (Summer 1991): 75-88. [Available on Course Blackboard’s Course Documents].



            Key Concepts (continued)



Great Britain: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp.19-31.


Impact of the Past continued

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 19-31.


Great Britain: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 48-59.



Great Britain: Elections and Parties

Reading: Roskin, pp. 44-47; 61-71.



            Great Britain: Elections and Parties continued

Studlar, Donley, “A Revised British Constitution: Tony Blair’s Lasting Legacy?” in Christiane Soe ed., Annual Edition/Comparative Politics 07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp. 26-32. [Available on Electronic Reserve].  



Great Britain: Key Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 33-44.

Video: “Order! Order!” VIDEO: JN508 .O6331994



Group Discussion: Quarrels in Great Britain

Reading:  Roskin, pp.73-85.



Japan Impact of the Past

Movie: “Meiji: Asia’s Response to the West.” DS882 .M4451992

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 259-267.


Japan Impact of the Past


The Economist, “Japanese Spirit, Western Things,” in Christiane Soe ed.,    Annual Edition/Comparative Politics 07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp. 59-61. [Aavailable on Electronic Reserve].



Japan: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 274 (political culture)-280.


Japan: Elections and Parties

Reading: Roskin, pp. 270 (The Parties)-272; pp. 283 (corruption scandal)-284; Box 285 (Who Bribes Whom?); Box p. 286 (Can Japanese Politics Alternative?)



Japan: Elections and Parties

Reading: The Economist, "The Vote that Changed Japan," September 5, 2009, p. 13. [Available on Electronic Reserve]

The Economist, "Lost in Transition," September 5, 2009, pp. 29-31. [Available on Electronic Reserve]



Government Institutions

Movie: “Inside Japan, Inc.” DS 849.U1574 1992



            Government Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 267-270; 270-274; pp. 281-287.



            Group Discussion: Quarrels in Japan

            Reading: Minier, Jean-Francois, “Japan’s Big Bang: Too Little, Too Late?” Far                              Eastern Economic Review (December 2006), pp. 17-21.                                                        [Available on Electronic Reserve].

            Roskin, pp. 287-293.




Catch-Up and Review



            Exam I



Russia: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 295-309.



Russia: Impact of the Past (continued)

Reading: Roskin, pp. 295-309.



Russia: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 327-339.



No Class Spring Break



No Class Spring Break



No Class Spring Break



Russia: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 327-339.



            Russia: Government Institutions

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 311-322; pp. 350-351 (The Army).



Russia: Government Institutions (continued)

Lavelle, Peter, “What Does Putin Want?” in Christiane Soe ed., Annual Edition/Comparative Politics 07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp. 149-152. [Available on course blackboard].

Marshal, Goldman, “Putin and the Oligarchs,” Foreign Affairs Vol. 83, no 6 (2004), pp. 33-44. [Available on Electronic Reserve].

Roskin, p. 345 (Taming the Oligarchs)



Russia: Parties and Elections

Reading: Roskin, Box page 322 (Democracy); Box page 323 (Democracy); p. 324 (A Party under Construction)



Russia: Parties and Elections (continued)

Reading: Roskin, pp. 341-352.



No class, Professor attends Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting



Group Discussion: Quarrels in Russia

            Reading: Roskin, pp.355-367.



China: Impact of the Past

Video: “Two Coasts of China.” DS706 .T8631992

Reading: Roskin, pp. 371-385.



Impact of the Past (continued)

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 371-385.



China: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 400-413; Box page 374; Box page 380; Box page 381; Box page 416 (the Great Leap Forward); box on page 417 (The Great Proletariat ...).



China: Political Culture (continued)

Reading: Roskin, pp. 400-413; box page 374; Box page 380; box page 381; box page 416 (the Great Leap Forward); box on page 417 (The Great Proletariat ...); box page 419 (Anti-Western Campaigns).



China: Government Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 387-399; pp. 415-427.

Guthrie, Dough, “China: The quiet Revolution” Harvard International Review, Summer 2003, pp.48-53. [Available on course blackboard].



Group Discussion: Quarrels in China

Readings: Minxin Pei, “The Dark Side of China’s Rise,” Foreign Policy,    March/April 2006, pp. 32-40 [to be handed out].

Roskin, box page 397 (Geography); box page 410 (Geography); pp. 429-443.



Iran: Impact of the Past

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 541-547.

            Video: “Which Way Next for Iran?” DS 318.825.W45 2000



            Impact of the Past (continued)

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 541-547.



Iran: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 551-553; box page 554 (Is Islam Anti-Modern); box 555 (Are Iranians Religious Fanatics); box 557 (Does Islam Discriminate against Women?)



Iran: Political Institutions, Elections, Parties and Democracy

            Reading: Roskin, pp.548-551; 554-562.



Iran: Political Institutions, Elections and Parties (continued)

Christopher Dickey, "The Supreme Leader," Newsweek, June 29, 2009, pp. 40-45. [Available on Electronic Reserve]



Group Discussion: Quarrels in Iran

Afshin Molavi, “Buying Time in Tehran: Iran the China Model,” Foreign Affairs,

83, 2004, pp. 9-16. [to be handed out];

Roskin, pp. 563-570.

Fareed Zakaria, "Theocracy and Its Discontents," Newsweek, June 29, 2009, pp.30-38.

[Available on Electronic Reserve]



            Review and Class Evaluation



Final Exam 10-11:50 a.m. (in the same classroom)