Political Science 11 – Syllabus (Spring 2014)

Pol 11 – Introduction to Political Science

College Now – Bronx Community College – Fall 2014
University Heights High School – Monday and Wednesday – 12:30-2:00

Professor: Roy R. Rogers

What makes a good leader? How does American politics work? Who should I vote for? What does it mean to be a politically active citizen? These are important, and difficult, questions all Americans face. This course, by introducing you to the academic discipline of political science, will help you begin to provide answers to those critical questions. By studying the history and ideas behind American politics, American political history, and current political debates, this course will provide students with the tools to navigate the tricky waters of informed citizenship. As part of the College Now program this course will also provide students with an introduction to the college experience and college course work by promoting students’ critical thinking, writing, and reading skills.


Learning Goals
By the end of this course every student should:

  • Have a basic understanding of the themes of America political history, political science, and political theory.
  • Have improved their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills.
  • Have improved their study skills and test taking abilities.
  • Have a basic understanding of the college experience (academic and personal) and the expectations of college coursework.


All readings for the class will be distributed as printed packets. Students will be given one (and ONLY one) copy of each packet of readings. They are responsible for keeping track of any materials once they have been distributed. Misplaced or lost packets will not be replaced.


Assignments & Grading
Your final grade will be calculated from the following breakdown:

  • 30% – Final Paper
  • 25% – Weekly Reflection Papers & Homework
  • 25% – Class Participation
  • 20% – Discussion Questions

In-Class Requirements
For reach class meeting students will be expected to have read all assigned material (primary source readings etc.) and be fully prepared for discussion. Such class discussions make up an important part of students’ class participation grade. Reading primary sources and discussing them in class is the core of this course. Students that do not do the reading or participate in class discussions are setting themselves up for failure.

In addition, students are expected to have completed – before class – all writing assignments or homework assigned for the class meeting. Such assignments are due at the very beginning of class.

Weekly Reflection Papers & Homework
Students are to write a reflection upon class discussion and readings for each week. In their reflections students should respond to questions, issues, and themes discussed by the instructor and their fellow classmates. Periodically students will complete a homework assignment instead of reflection paper. A detailed guide on the requirements for the reflection papers will be handed out in the second week of classes (September 15th). The first reflection paper will be due September 22nd.

All homework assignments and reflection papers are due the Monday after the assigned. For example, if an assignment is given on September 17th it would be due on September 22rd.

Discussion Questions
Before each class meeting students should come up with three to five study questions about the reading for that class. Discussion questions should be designed to encourage discussion with your fellow students and, thus, should not be questions of fact but of interpretation and opinion. A good question should help one’s fellow students better understand the sources under discussion.

Students MUST provide the instructor with a copy of their discussion questions at the beginning of each class period.

Attendance is required for every class meeting. Attendance will be taken during each class meeting to ensure this. If a student needs to miss class, the instructor must be notified in advance (in case of emergencies, before the following class meeting). To encourage attendance, students who miss no more than three (or fewer) classes will receive an additional five points on their final grade.

Final Paper
The largest portion of the student’s grade will be final paper. In this paper students will be asked to assess a problem them in contemporary American society (i.e. police brutality, sexism, internet privacy, etc.) and offer policy suggestions how to resolve this problem. Detailed instructions will be handed out the second day of class, September 15.

Students who chose to complete a final paper are to have selected a topic by SEPTEMBER 17 and have a first draft complete by NOVEMBER 3. On November 10 students will have an opportunity to meet with the instructor one-on-one to discuss how to best revise their paper. Students will have a second draft complete by November 23. There will be an opportunity to meet again with the instructor one-on-one on DECEMBER 15. The final version is due on DECEMBER 22.

Extra Credit
Occasionally (and at the instructor’s discretion) assignments for extra credit will be made available. This will usually consist of attendance at, and brief reports on, lectures and other cultural events relating to politics in New York.


Classroom Policies

In order to ensure that this class is a successful space for learning and critical dialogue, the following polices are in affect.

  • Plagiarism and academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Any assignment (even in part) found to be plagiarized will be marked as a failure (zero points). A second instance of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. If students have ANY questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please come see (or e-mail) the instructor and/or consult the course website.
  • All work must be turned in to the instructor via hardcopy by the beginning of the class period on the date in which it is due (see schedule, below). Assignments will NOT be accepted via e-mail, except in cases of emergency. Late work will NOT be accepted.
  • Cell phone usage and texting is forbidden in the classroom. If a student must use their cell phone because of an emergency situation, please let the instructor know before the beginning of class.
  • There is no such thing as a stupid question. If a student is confused or unclear about any topic under discussion, please raise your hand and ask a question or come see the instructor after class.
  • Sexist, racist, or homophobic comments will not be tolerated in the classroom.
  • Students with learning or other disabilities should come to speak with the instructor, in private, either before or after class. Any and all disabilities can be accommodated, as long as the instructor is promptly informed.
  • Students with family, work, legal, or financial issues that may affect their attendance or class performance should come speak to the instructor as soon as possible, to see if arrangements can be made.
  • Drinking beverages is welcome in class, but please no eating.

Class Schedule


SEPTEMBER 10: Introduction

SEPTEMBER 15: Primary & Secondary Sources



SEPTEMBER 22: The Christian Tradition & Machiavelli

SEPTEMBER 29: The Social Contract
OCTOBER 1: The Age of Democratic Revolutions

OCTOBER 6: The Rights of Women
OCTOBER 8: Utilitarianism

OCTOBER 15: Marxism

OCTOBER 20: Political Liberalism


OCTOBER 22: Study Skills –Paper Writing
OCTOBER 27: Study Skills – Citation Formatting


NOVEMBER 3: The American Democratic Experience – From Revolution to Civil War [DRAFT DUE]
NOVEMBER 5: The American Democratic Experience – From Reconstruction to Recession


NOVEMBER 10: Individual Meetings about Your Paper
NOVEMBER 12: The Constitution

NOVEMBER 17: American Government – Congress & the Presidency
NOVEMBER 19: American Government – The Judiciary & Local Government

NOVEMBER 24: American Government – Foreign Policy [SECOND PAPER DRAFT DUE]

PART five: Contemporary POLITICAL ISSUES

DECEMBER 1: Church & State in Modern America
DECEMBER 3: Police & People

DECEMBER 8: The Internet
DECEMBER 10: Affirmative Action

DECEMBER 15: FINAL Individual Meetings about Your Paper
DECEMBER 17: The Ukraine



Author: Roy Rogers

I am currently a PhD candidate in American History at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). My undergraduate education was at Shepherd University (Political Science & History) and I received an MA in History from George Mason University. As a historian, my research interests include early American history, the early American republic (1780 to 1830), political history, religious history, and gender history. I live in Brooklyn with my girlfriend and our cat.

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