Political Studies 103
Professor Dana Ward
The goals of this course are to examine 1) the concept of political power, 2) the structure of power in the United States, 3) the pathways by which ordinary citizens participate in the political process other than in elections, 4) the obstacles that must be overcome in order for that participation to be effective, and 5) particular political movements, including, for comparative purposes, some from outside the US. The course does not focus on electoral participation, although evaluating the effectiveness of electoral change is a theme throughout the course. In addition, one "covert" purpose of the course is to introduce a few internet skills. The organization of the course will be along the lines of a research seminar, and for that reason the syllabus is left somewhat open.
The class will cover four broad areas:
In the first half of the course we will read some theoretical works on the concept of power and review the classic controversy between the pluralist and elite views of power in the United States. This period will initiate the debate which will run throughout the course: How concentrated or diffuse is the distribution of power, how is that power exercised, and what, if anything, should be done to reform the power structure. In the second half of the course we will examine particular examples of popular movements in the U.S. and, for comparative purposes, in Spain. During this section of the course we will also pay attention to attempts by the State to disrupt popular movements.
Two papers, roughly seven to ten pages in length, are required for the course. The first paper must focus on some aspect of the power structure in the U.S., and the second paper must focus on some aspect of political participation (other than electoral participation) in the U.S. The specific topic for each paper must be cleared with Professor Ward at the earliest possible moment. The first paper on the power structure can be turned in any time prior to the semester break. The second paper on political participation can be turned in any time between the end of the semester break and the last day of class. Each paper is worth thirty percent of your final grade. The APA guide to citations can be found here.
Twenty percent of your grade will be based on your contribution to the
class web site. Several sessions during the semester will be devoted to
developing a site on the World Wide Web (WWW) covering issues raised in
the course. For example, graphs of the distribution of wealth and
income over the course of U.S. history will be developed. In addition,
indices of inequality, concentration of corporate power, and so forth
will be created. Each student will be assigned responsibility for
developing content for the web site and students with internet skills
may be assigned some responsibility for the construction and maintanence
of the site. It is not necessary to have any knowledge of internet
systems in order to contribute to the project, but one by-product of the
course should be the ability to produce and publish materials on the
WWW. For students unfamiliar with any or all aspects of the internet, I
have produced a set of Internet Literacy Modules dealing with each major
internet system. Each module contains detailed information, software, and
instructions on particular aspects of the system. If you need to clarify any
term, concept or internet procedure, please consult the
Internet Literacy Skills site.
To facilitate communication, please subscribe to the class listserv.
To subscribe, send and email message to: email@example.com and in the
body of the message include:
SUBSCRIBE powpart-l your_full_name
and of course for "your_full_name" substitute your real name joined with the underscore.
The following are useful links for the course. More will be added as the web project progresses.
Benello on Mondragon
There will be a number of unannounced quizzes dealing with the readings assigned for the course. The quizzes will focus on the broad themes of the assigned books and articles and will take roughly ten minutes of class time to complete. The purpose of the quizzes is to insure that the reading is done on time, and to help you hone your expository writing skills. Collectively, the quizzes will constitute ten percent of your final grade.
Five percent of your grade will be based on peer evaluations. On the last day of class each student will email to me ( firstname.lastname@example.org) an evaluation of each student's performance in the class. Type the name of the student being evaluated, followed by a LETTER GRADE (e.g., A, A-, AB, B+, B, etc.). The evaluators will remain anonymous. The grade given should reflect your judgment of the other students' contribution to your understanding of the issues raised in the course. For instance, did the student participate actively in class or outside class? How good were the students' oral presentations? In short, how effective was each student's participation in class? Below the student's name and the assigned grade type as thorough and thoughtful an analysis as possible of the basis of your evaluation, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses and making suggestions for improvement. Peer evaluations will constitute ten percent of the final grade. Failure to turn in peer evaluations will result in your peer evaluation registering as zero in calculating your final grade.
The final five percent of your grade will be based on a self evaluation. On September 11 you will each submit a statement of your goals for the course. This statement should be as specific and detailed as possible. Plan your method for meeting the responsibilities of this course, set weekly goals and time schedules, or whatever will help you to think about why you are taking this particular course and how it fits your over-all learning goals. Then, on the last day of class, turn in a self evaluation in which you analyze how well you met your goals, how your goals changed, and what unforeseen goals emerged. You will then assign yourself an over-all grade based on your performance in this course.
First paper = Thirty Percent
Second Paper = Thirty Percent
Web Site Project = Twenty Percent
Quizzes = Ten Percent
Self Evaluation = Five Percent
Peer Evaluation = Five Percent
All readings are required and must be completed before the date listed below. Readings not included in the texts will be available at Mead and Honnold Libraries.