National Security Via Film is a higher-level course that engages in consistent political discussion. Mainstream topics are debated through a historical context and current events are consistently used to open class discussions. The professor for this course is extremely friendly and wants you to succeed, follow these steps and you should have no problem!
1. Use the Writing Center
This class is almost entirely graded based on your writing. 70% of your grade in this class comes from essays written throughout the course. The Writing Center at Elon is considered one of the most underused resources. Those who use it undoubtedly perform better on assignments. If you are stuck on the intro, or can’t seem to get the right thesis, the Writing Center will guide you step by step to write a paper that you can be proud of AND get the best grade.
2. Do the Readings
This class has a reading due almost every class. There are no required texts for this course, but scholarly articles are consistently read to understand multiple perspectives on drugs, terrorism, and all things related to national security. To participate, you must do the reading. If you forget to do the reading one day, or don’t have the time to do so, make sure to skim a paragraph or two in the intro and conclusion to get a general sense so you can participate in the discussion and reference the material.
3. Go to Office Hours
The professor for this course is a nice and funny guy who loves to debate. He calls himself out all the time during class and encourages people to be open and honest in their views (while obviously being respectful). Visiting the professor at office hours is another valuable resource, since he is the ultimately grading your papers, and knows his assignments best. Simple questions, as well as overarching themes that you don’t understand, can all be figured out in a 10-20 minutes meeting. It’s well worth your time.
This is a discussion-based class, so there is no way of getting around the fact that you must participate. While it only accounts for 10% of your final grade, the entire grading behind this course is subjective, as there are 6 essays and 1 major project that account for your grade. The more one participates in class, the better grades those students tend to get on essays. While the correlation does have something to do with how the students who participate more are more likely to be engaged and hear the right information, the professor appreciates good discussions and opinions.
5. Check Your Work
It is easy to finish a long paper and feel proud as you hit that submit button or send that final e-mail. Take the extra 10 minutes to sit down and re-read your paper, or better yet, get a roommate or friend to peer review it. Another set of eyes can prove helpful in finding details you hadn’t seen and giving you a new perspective on your formatting or more generally the flow of your paper.
National Security Via Film, or POL396, is not an easy course where you watch movies in every class (although some classes consist of movie watching). This class requires critical thinking, and advanced essay writing. If you follow the tips above, you should find great success as you continue to take higher level classes in political science and continue to think critically!