Political Science (POLS) 2312 (25779): The Study of Politics
220 Undergraduate Learning Center
T, R: 3:00- 4:20
Office: 307 Benedict Hall
Class Website: TBA
and by appointment
Course Goals and Overview
The primary goal of this course is to develop the analytical skills necessary to understand and analyze politics. This will be accomplished with a two-part strategy. The first half of this course will primarily focus on the art of politics, with special attention to interests, strategies, and tactics of politicians, bureaucrats, the media, think tanks, and interest groups. The second half of the course will introduce students to research methods often used in studying politics. While the first half of the course is more directly designed to develop analytical and critical skills necessary to understand how politicians and politics operate, the second half provides skills to empirically evaluate theories and policies of the political process. It is important to stress that the skills introduced in this course could be used in a wide array of environments and occupations.
Requirements and Grading
Exams (2): 10% each
Final Exam: 20%
Research Design Paper: 20%
Play of Power Analysis Portfolio: 15%
Exams: This course includes three exams. Two exams will be based on the covered readings on Machiavelli and the Frank books. A final exam will also be given that will be based on Part II of the course. The formats of the exams will be announced at a later date.
Play of Power Analysis Portfolio: A portfolio of three papers analyzing current political events and issues will be written over the course of the semester. These papers will be based on newspaper articles in the New York Times. You must use three different issues/stories and not just three papers on a single, on-going issue. Instructions will be provided on the format and style of these papers in late January, or thereabouts.
I heavily suggest that you subscribe to the New York Times for the semester. The New York Times will also be used to discuss the Machiavelli readings as well as issues in the second part of the course. You may use articles from other newspapers, with permission from the instructor. Note that articles in the El Paso Times and some other papers typically lack the in-depth coverage necessary in these analysis papers. We will discuss how to write these analysis papers in class.
Research Design Paper: This paper will be based mostly on Part II of the course and involves writing a research design explaining the rise of the Republicans in recent years in American politics. A rough draft of the paper will be due before the final product. Details on the specific goals and format of this paper will be presented prior to the second exam listed below in the schedule of classes. This paper will primarily use the Black & Black book listed above.
Homework: Various homework assignments will be completed during the course of the semester. These are designed to instruct students on how to excel on the Play of Power analysis papers, the Research Design paper, and the final exam. Most homework assignments will involve the Black & Black book.
Participation: Participation will be measured in two ways. First, pop quizzes on the readings and prominent current events covered in the New York Times will be given at several points during the semester, which will be averaged to account for ten percent of the final grade. Second, considering that instructor-student interaction provides for a more interesting and educationally rich environment, students that productively participate in class discussions will receive additional points, although quality commentary will be valued over quantity.
Other Expectations Concerning Class Conduct
It is expected of you that you do not miss assignments or classes. It has been demonstrated in studies on education that attending class and taking good notes improve student test scores. Class attendance is mandatory. If you know you will be unable to meet these commitments, and you have a valid excuse, be sure to notify the teaching assistant or myself in advance if possible. I will require you to provide documentation when applicable for university approved absences and missed assignments.
Also, always be sure to back up any assignment you ever word process on a disc for every class you ever take. Note that floppy disks are especially prone to errors and you should use USB ZIP disk or CD technologies. Last minute technical problems are not a valid excuse for late assignments.
Debate and discussion are important in the critical evaluation of politics. Without this interaction the subject matter may feel far removed from your life when in fact it is quite important. However, it must be remembered that the purpose of group and class discussion is to improve individual learning and the overall quality of the course. This entails a respect for others and refraining from disparaging remarks, personal insults, derogatory comments, and other unprofessional behavior. Additionally, outside work and other non-class related activities have no place in our forum, this includes cell phones or other electronic equipment not pertinent to class activities. Cell phones most be turned off!! Moreover, disruption by cell-phones, unless one is expecting an emergency phone call, indicates that the activity under way is secondary to other pursuits. Please feel free to drop by my office during office hours if you have any additional questions or concerns. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. Questions are highly recommended. I enjoy such interaction and you will also gain from it.
Plagiarism (Read this disclaimer and avoid trouble!!!)
An unpleasant topic that we need to discuss is plagiarism. Briefly, plagiarism entails the use of other people’s words, songs, or images without documentation or their consent. For the papers in this class, students must provide footnotes or endnotes for passages in the text that are borrowed or inspired by other person’s works. It is not hard to avoid plagiarizing -- if you use a quote from an author, acknowledge it in a footnote; if you paraphrase or summarize an argument, cite the source from where you obtained the idea. Often parenthetical citations are useful for this purpose. For example, one might write “One compelling reason why governments do what they do is that all people have goals, and they work to achieve those goals through political behavior. (Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle 2002, p.14)”, and then cite the work again in a bibliography or reference section at the end of your paper.
If you use facts or figures from some source and they are not common knowledge, note the source of the information. Copying and pasting in text from websites or other electronic documents is completely unacceptable unless some reference is provided. If you directly borrow sentences, or even clauses or sentence fragments, these should be set-off in quotation marks and include a reference to the original source. If you are inspired to borrow the style, organization, or ideas of other person’s work you will still need to provide references to specific passages and bibliographical information. Another strategy that is acceptable is to paraphrase another person’s work, which is fine again as long as the source is noted in the text.
It is unacceptable to include multiple paragraphs or long passages not set off as block quotes and then provide a single reference of the original source at the end. The goal of writing is to use your own words and ideas first and foremost, and use other people’s words as examples or evidence. Moreover, when students plagiarize it is often obvious to the instructor.
Also, UTEP takes steps through the web and in University classes to inform students about plagiarism. Thus, it is your responsibility to avoid this behavior. I join the University in taking plagiarism very seriously. If caught plagiarizing, I will report you for college review and possible discipline. I have reported several people in the past. Similarly, all other forms of cheating are also dishonest and will not be acceptable.
The University of Texas, El Paso encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible. I will do my best to make special arrangements for students with any required special needs or conflicts as far as course lectures or test-taking circumstances. However, if you anticipate a particular requirement, let me know as soon as possible. I will always try to accommodate legitimate needs, but I am unlikely to accommodate last minute requests. Special circumstances include disabilities and any scheduled activities that you have that conflict with this class. If you do not notify me of conflicts early on, I am under no obligation to allow you a make-up exam or assignment extension. Emergencies such as deaths in the family or illness must be documented.
I expect you to read everything listed on the syllabus for a particular date before class. The lectures will not necessarily duplicate the readings. Nonetheless, you will be responsible for this subject matter on quizzes, exams, and papers and the tests will encompass more than the subject matter covered in lecture. The texts for this course are:
Black, Earl, Merle Black. The Rise of Southern Republicans. Belknap.
Carlson, James M., Mark S. Hyde. Doing Empirical Political Research. Houghton Mifflin.
Frank, Thomas. What’s the Matter with Kansas? Metropolitan Books.
Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince.
New York Times, newspaper subscription.
The following course outline is organized by sections of subject matter. Readings are assigned by specific topics. I have focused the readings to ensure that you read what is most important for this course. Some readings are short while others are longer. I expect you to take the time necessary to think about what you are reading, not just quickly skim the pages. If you have any questions about the subject matter, be sure to raise them in class or during office hours and appointments.
Schedule of Classes
- The Art of Politics
A. The Prince
Week 1 (1/11 & 1/13): Books I to IV.
Week 2 (1/18 & 1/20): Books V to X and XII.
Week 3 (1/25 & 1/27): Books XIII to XVII and, XIX, XXI, XXII, XXIV (rest is optional)
B. The Play for Power
Week 4 (2/1 & 2/3): Introduction to Play for Power concepts; Black/Black Ch. 1; Frank, Introduction; Carlson & Hyde Chapter 1
Week 5 (2/8 & 2/10): Frank Part I (Chapters 1-5)
Week 6 (2/15 & 2/17): Frank Part II (Chapters 6-9)
Week 7 (2/22 & 2/24): Frank rest of Part II and Epilogue
Week 8 Exam (3/1/05)
- Empirical Political Research
A.What is science and what does it have to do with politics?
Week 9 (3/8 & 3/10): Carlson & Hyde Chapter 2
B.Literature, Concepts, Theory, and Hypotheses
Week 10 (3/15 & 3/17): Carlson & Hyde Chapters 3, 4, and 5
Due date for Play for Power portfolio completion: 3/17/05
C.Measuring Variables, Testing Theory, and Analysis
Week 11 (3/29): Carlson & Hyde Chapter 6
Week 12 (4/5 & 4/7): Carlson & Hyde Chapter 7
Week 13 (4/12 & 4/14): Carlson & Hyde Chapters 8 and 13
Week 14 (4/19 & 4/21): Carlson & Hyde Chapters 13 and14
Due date for Rough Draft of Research Design paper: 4/21/05
Week 15 (4/26 & 4/28): Carlson & Hyde Chapters 15, 17, and 17
Due date for Research Design paper: Monday, May 2nd, 2005, at 5:00pm (note that you should turn it in earlier if you have exams on this day or thereabouts)
Final Exam: Thursday, May 5th, 2005, at 1:00-3:34, same room.