The political science discipline is divided into three broad categories: Political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. The three fields are not sharply divided, and there is often overlap between fields (most commonly between political theory and the other two fields). In general, philosophical and theoretical issues are covered in theory courses. In comparative courses the focus is on the internal politics of a country or set of countries. In contrast, courses on international relations focus on politics among nations or international organizations. This course takes a comparative perspective. We will be examining how individual countries address a broad array of political issues. Some of the issues covered are the following: poverty, political and economic stratification, war, violence, migration, population growth, ecology, censorship, nuclear proliferation, human rights, ethnic and gender conflicts, transitions to democracy, homelessness, capital punishment and labor relations. Generally, each week will focus on a different issue, although some issues will take longer to cover.
In studying each issue, we will focus on how governments address the issue, how ordinary citizens and citizen groups deal with the issue, and how organized groups have confronted the issue. You will be asked to analyze governments', citizens' and organizations' efforts to respond to these issues. You will also be asked to reflect on how these efforts might be improved. To do so, you may have to employ various theoretical perspectives on governing, decision-making, and citizen participation. In some cases you may also have to address international relations, but you should always remember that the main focus should be on comparing how nations deal with the issues.
This class probably will not be like any class you took during the first year. The goal in this class is not to learn English. The primary goal is to learn how to use political science tools in order to analyze political issues. Using English in pursuit of that goal is of course necessary, particularly since we do not speak Japanese, but English is not the only language you can use to learn about these issues. To do your research for the required papers and to prepare for class discussion, you may use any language. In class and for all written work, only English may be used. If you quote from a source in a language other than English, you must translate both the quotation and the citation.
You will be expected to write two research papers. One
paper is due on each of the following dates: May 22, the other
July 15. Full drafts of each paper are due two weeks in advance.
The "draft" should be what you consider to be a finished paper.
Topics for each paper must be approved one month before the paper
is due, which means you must select your first paper topic
immediately. Each paper should be between five and seven pages.
The papers must analyze, not describe, an issue, and the issue
must be thoroughly researched. While it is possible to use a
comparative approach in studying a single country, it is often
useful to compare two or more countries. Therefore, only one of
the two papers can focus on a single country. Furthermore,
Japan can be the source of comparison in only one of the papers.
At least one of the other countries used for comparison in each
paper should be a country in which English is either the official
or the predominant language, e.g., the U.S., Canada, Australia,
New Zealand, Great Britain, but also India, Sierra Leone, etc..
Each paper must have an argument (take a point of view)
concerning the problem studied. You must document your sources,
and therefore must learn proper bibliographic techniques. All
papers must be typed on a computer so that drafts can be edited
and re-written. If typing is difficult for you, there is a typing
tutor available in the computer lab called "Mavis Beacon". If you
cannot type at least thirty words per minute, you should practice
on the tutor until you can raise your speed. Everyone should
work hard during the first few weeks of the semester to raise
your typing speed. A good place to start your search for
information is this list of search engines. To make your
search efficient, review these search tips.
You can view examples of papers from the previous class here.
You are required to turn in a weekly reading log. The log should list all the materials you have read during the week for this course. Each reading should be cited using APA format. Each article or section of a book should be characterized in at least a sentence or two. The more elaborate you are in your log, the easier it will be to write the papers. As a rough guide, you should be reading a minimum of two hours for each content hour of class time. If you are a serious student, of course, more than two hours per content hour will be necessary to explore a topic to your satisfaction. A very good tool for your reading log can be found by clicking here.
You are also required to subscribe (it's free) to the appropriate bulletin boards on "internews", the interface for reading USENET. We will go over how to subscribe in class. Each week, you must forward at least one article you have read on a clari.news bulletin board dealing with your paper topic. Of course, you can use these articles for your research paper and for your reading log.