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US POL syllabus.pdf

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University of Ottawa
Political Science
Emily Regan Wills

POL 3140A – COMPARATIVE POLITICS: UNITED STATES Professor Emily REGAN WILLS Fall 2013 Class Times: Monday 8:30-10:00 Thursday 10:00-11:30 Office Hours: Monday 10:30-12:00 Thursday 13:00-14:30 (or by appointment) Office Location: FSS 7065 Virtual Office Hours: via gchat, emilyreganwills Professor’s Email: [email protected] All emails will be answered within 2 business days of receipt. Official Course Description: Major characteristics of government and political life in the United States: constitution and institutions, political culture, political processes and representation, political parties, social movements, social and racial disparities, electoral issues, current events. Detailed Course Description: This course has two objectives. The first is to familiarize students with the institutions and structures of political life in the contemporary United States. To that end, we will study formal political institutions and practices of all types. The second is to examine the role of difference, particularly differences in race, ethnicity, and gender, in American politics over its history, particularly how they have shaped and influenced political institutions and practices beyond “just” racial or gender politics, and to study the history of political contestation and social movements in US politics. Learning Outcomes: At the end of this course, students should: 1) have increased their knowledge of basic facts about US politics and terminology in ways that enable them to better understand future information about the United States; 2) understand the role that differences of different types play in American political life; 3) be able to explain how difference, identity, and political contestation have affected political outcomes over time in US politics; 4) have improved their writing, research, and argumentation skills. Teaching Methods: Classes will include lectures, whole-class discussions, and small-group discussions with report- backs. Lectures will include multi-media components; Powerpoint slides will be uploaded to lecturetools and/or Blackboard. Course Assignments Assignment Due Date(s) Percentage of Final Grade Attendance & Participation Ongoing 10% Geography, Demographics and September 16 10% Vocabulary Quiz Weekly News Reports September 26, October 3, 15% October 10, October 24, and October 31 Revised News Reports November 28 25% Literature Review During exam period 40% Attendance and Participation - 10% Attendance and participation will be graded in two ways: through the use of instance response questions in class, which you will answer via, and through in-class discussions with a small group of peers. Each class will contain one or the other of these techniques. Geography, Demographics, and Vocabulary Quiz - 10% At the fourth class session, there will be a brief (30 minute) quiz on US geography, demographics, and political vocabulary. The purpose of this quiz is to make sure you have enough basic knowledge about the United States to be able to understand and work with the material discussed in class. A packet containing the information you will be quizzed on is available on Blackboard, and we will discuss it in class in advance of the quiz. Weekly News Reports - 15% Revision of Weekly News Reports - 25% Each Thursday, you will turn in a report on a news article that pertains to the week's reading and theme. The news article must pertain to the United States, and must be from a reputable US news source, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, or the Christian Science Monitor, or from a major news feed such as the Associated Press or Reuters. (Generally, cable news networks will not be considered reputable sources, though I am willing to consider Al Jazeera America for the moment.) In a single double-spaced page, you will: • Provide an accurate citation for the news article • Summarize the content of the news article • Explicitly relate it to the material covered in class, using at least one direct reference to the readings • Provide some sort of argument or question about the text. This could be a question that it raises for you about the material we read, a way in which it supports or goes against the argument we read, or an argument about how it related to a larger structure of US politics or comparative politics. These reports will be due on September 26, October 3, October 10, October 24, and October 31. They will be returned to you the following Monday or Thursday (hopefully Monday), graded from 10 points each, on the following scale: • Turned in on time: 0 or 1 point • Is appropriate length: 0 or 1 point • Is thematically related to readings: 0 or 1 point • Grammar and style: from 0 to 3 points • Content of argument: from 0 to 4 points In addition, there will be a few bullet points of suggestions written for how to improve. If you have questions about how to improve them and would like more support, make an appointment with me, or use resources available such as the writing center on campus. You will then select the three reports you are most interested in revising (which does not have to be the three that you got the best grades on), and revise and expand them, cleaning up all grammatical errors, strengthening and lengthening your arguments, and using more quotes from the texts we read in class where appropriate. These final revisions will be between five and eight pages long. These will be due on November 28th. A full rubric for how they will be graded will be available by November 4th. Literature Review: 40% Your final assignment for the class will be to write a review article or literature review on a topic that interests you in American politics. (We will read some examples of these in class). You will turn in a proposal, which names both the topic and the specific books to be read, in class on November 4th. Literature reviews must be 10-15 pages long. They will be due during the exam period. Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty. The primary forms of academic dishonesty are cheating on exams and quizzes, and plagiarism. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's work as one's own in all forms of academic endeavor (such as essays, theses, examinations, research data, creative projects, etc), intentional or unintentional. Plagiarized material may be derived from a variety of sources, such as books, journals, internet postings, student or faculty papers, etc. This includes the purchase or “outsourcing” of written assignments for a course. A detailed definition of plagiarism in research and writing can be found in the fourth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, pages 26-29. Any academic dishonesty in this class will result as a zero for the assignment. Policy for Late Assignments. Written assignments will lose five points per day they are late. The geography quiz cannot be rescheduled without prior permission; that means that, if you miss it, you will receive a zero for the assignment. If you want to negotiate for an extension on any written project, you may do so until 48 hours before it is due. Readings: About a third of the readings for the class will be from Raymond A. Smith, The American Anomaly, 3rd Edition. The book can be purchased on Amazon, and probably elsewhere online as well. (It may be available for Kindle, but don't count on it.) The third edition is brand new, which means it's difficult to get a second-hand copy to save money. However, the University of Ottawa Library has ebook access to the 2nd edition of the book, and many used copies of the 2nd edition are available online. I will be using the third edition, but from looking between the two of them, I think the basic information will be the same or similar in both. In summary: I recommend you buy the 3rd edition, but if it's not in the budget, you have options
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