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POLA90H: Politics, Corruption, and Violence, Fall 2010 1
Renan Levine, Department of Social Science
Office: BV 430, (416) 208-2651
Office Hours: Tues. 11 am-12 pm; Weds 1:30 - 3 pm
Best contact is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TA information: Sept. 17, 2010
Jennifer Fender email@example.com
Isabela Stefjla firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Eve Reny
One of the sharpest differences between developed countries and less-developed countries
(LDCs) is that many LDCs suffer from high levels of corruption and violent domestic
conflict. The twin curses of corruption and violence seemingly have dire consequences on
LDCs, impeding their growth and contributing to decisions by many of their most skilled
citizens to find opportunities in the developed world.
Our course will begin with a unit focusing on corruption and ask why one might care about
corruption. We will then examine different varieties of corruption and the conditions that
enable corruption to flourish, including both a lack of and an abundance of state power,
political campaigns focused on material wealth, and a history of domination by a foreign
We then scrutinize the linkages between corruption, its by-products, greed and injustice, and
violence. This allows us to transition to our final unit focusing on violence, conflict and civil
war, providing a foundation to raise important questions like:
a)What motivates violence beyond greed and/or grievance? Religion? Long histories
of ethnic group competition?
b) When do grievances between groups or individuals in a society turn violent and
what causes violent conflict to become prolonged? Rich natural resources like
diamonds? Perceived threats or overt interference from neighboring countries?
c)What impact does changing demographics and globalization have on civil strife?
d) Does democratization reduce conflict?
We conclude with a brief look at success stories and possible solutions to these curses.
At the end of the term, all students will be expected to identify differences in government
form, function and performance between LDCs and more prosperous countries and relate
these differences to incidence of corruption and violence. Students will familiarize themselves
with concepts and terms that describe these differences and social scientific tools that test
competing explanations for the circumstances in which we find corruption and/or violence. In
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POLA90H: Politics, Corruption, and Violence, Fall 2010 2
tutorials, student will critically engage theories of corruption and violence and develop
The term test will take place in class October 20 and will test student knowledge of key
concepts and terms and cover our discussions of corruption and state formation in less-
developed countries. The term test will include very short answers (true/false, multiple choice,
fill-in-the-blank, etc), short answers (one sentence), and pretty-short answers (one to two
paragraphs). The final exam will emphasize material covered after the term test and will
include one essay question. Sample essay questions will be provided in advance.
In every tutorial, student pairs will make short (5 minute) presentations about a country’s
corruption, violence or both, depending on what material will be covered that week. Up to
three pairs of students will present each tutorial, starting in the second tutorial session.
Students may choose to give a broad overview of a country or region, or focus on a specific
theme, event or area – like police corruption or paramilitary forces. Students presenting on the
same week are strongly encouraged to present on similar themes. TAs will grade the
presentations and peers will provide non-grade evaluations of delivery, visual illustrations and
clarity of substance.
To enhance your understanding of the lectures and facilitate participation you should
complete the required reading before the lecture on the subject. We will be reading the
following books (new and used copies are available at the bookstore and on-line):
Bates, Robert. Prosperity and Violence. W.W. Norton. 2nd Edition.
Ballentine, Karen and Jake Sherman. The Political Economy of Armed Conflict: Beyond
Greed and Grievance. Lynne Rienner Publishers/International Peace Academy.
There are many readings on-line, available through the library or Blackboard. You can expect 2-4
chapters or journal articles of reading a week. To enable the class to be responsive to the latest
political developments, I expect everyone to keep abreast of world news and will start a forum on
Blackboard for links to stories directly related to news of corruption and conflict. I reserve the right to
change the required readings for any particular week.
Attendance is highly recommended. Due to the size of the class, most classes will be lecture-oriented.
However, there will be opportunities to discuss the material and share your own knowledge of
corruption and violence in tutorials.
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