Foundations in Politics and Government
- Introduction to Politics and Early Political Thought
In this introductory week, students will be introduced to basic concepts in politics and early thinkers in political philosophy. We will pay special attention to some of Plato's and Aristotle’s ideas.
Here students will be introduced to the concept of the state, the roles of government, and social contract theory. We will wrestle with questions such as: Why do we have government? and How strong should that government be?
Those of us who grow up in democratic countries often take for granted that democracy is the greatest type of government. But what exactly is democracy? How can we define and measure it? Are democracies more legitimate than other forms of government?
- Crash Course in UK Government
This week we will focus on the structure of government in the United Kingdom, providing a broad overview of its institutions. We will also discuss constitutional principles and how they are applied to the UK context.
Liberalism has had a profound impact not only on Western society but also on the entire globe. This week examines early liberalism as an outspring of the Enlightenment and how it has evolved over time. Students will examine the writings of liberal thinkers such as John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls.
This week will continue our foray into political ideologies by examining conservatism. We will trace the development of conservative thought from Edmund Burke to the many strands of modern conservatism.
This week’s topic will explore the content and history of the socialist ideology, as well as its applications in practice. Students will be introduced to the writings of Karl Marx.
What exactly is a nation anyway? And what is the deal with nationalism? We explore these questions and more this week as we explore the concept of the nation and the varieties of nationalism.
- Special Topic: Current Politics
This week is reserved to explore an unfolding political event.
- How to Read and Understand Social Science
This week will introduce students to the empirical approach to politics and how it contrasts with theoretical approaches. Emphasis on quantitative methods, making connections with Analysing the Social and Political World module.
Identity, Culture, and the Media
- Politics and Identity: Race, Gender, and Social Class
This week we turn from political ideologies to contemporary debates about the roles of race, gender, and social class in politics. Does one’s social class, gender, or race impact their ability to engage equally in political and social life? Have we spent too much time focusing on identity politics?
- Politics and Identity: Race, Gender, and Social Class Continued
We will continue our exploration of the politics surrounding race, gender, and social class.
- Political Culture and Media
This week, we will examine concepts such as political socialization and the role of media in politics.
“Of the People, by the People”
- Representation and Elections
Many of us take for granted our privilege to live in democratic countries. This week we will contend with the concepts of political representation and political equality. We will also examine different electoral systems and political participation in a comparative context.
This week continues our examination of the role of The People in democracy, taking a closer look at what motivates people to participate in politics.
- Globalization and Political Economy
The world is increasingly interconnected, posing challenges to governments, political leaders, and economies. We will contend with questions such as: What is the proper balance between global order and sovereignty? What is the relationship between states and markets?
Economic inequality is a defining feature of modern developed countries. Is this problematic, or is it a natural and desirable outcome of a healthy capitalist system?
- Climate Change and Environmental Politics
Global climate change is slated to have an immense impact, with potentially devastating effects, such as mass displacement and migration, economic crises, and food shortages. How can these challenges be addressed politically?
Students will be given time to work on their essays in class, with feedback from the instructor.
This week will focus on potential threats to democracy, including topics such as the decline in civic engagement, the material performance of democratic countries, populism, and mass migration. Are we facing crises of democracy as some have claimed, or is their concern exaggerated?