Pol 11 – Introduction to Political Science
College Now – Bronx Community College – Fall 2013
Monday and Wednesday – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
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.
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
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 (February 14). All homework and reflection papers should be between two to three paragraphs in length.
All homework assignments and reflection papers are due the Tuesday after the assigned. For example, if an assignment is given on April 17th it would be due on April 23rd.
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.
The largest portion of the student’s grade will be a final paper, due on December 16. For this paper students are to research one of the assigned primary source readings from any of the assigned reading packets. In their research students should look into the author(s) of the source, the context in which it emerged, and its importance to political philosophy and/or the American political experience. For their paper students are to use three to five academic and scholarly sources (not Wikipedia!) in their research. More detailed instructions will be handed out in class on February 14.
Students are to have selected a topic by September 25 and have a COMPLETE draft complete by November 4. The final version is due on December 16.
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.
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.
REVISED Class Schedule
NOTE: A list of required primary source readings will be distributed separate from this syllabus.
PROLOUGE – SETTING THE STAGE
SEPTEMBER 18: Introduction
SEPTEMBER 23: Reading a Source
SEPTEMBER 25: Primary & Secondary Sources [TOPIC FOR FINAL PAPER DUE]
PART ONE – THE MAKING OF MODERN POLITICS
SEPTEMBER 30: The Ancient Tradition
OCTOBER 2: The Christian Tradition & Machiavelli
OCTOBER 7: The Social Contract
OCTOBER 9: The Rights of Women
OCTOBER 14: NO CLASS (HAPPY SPANISH IMPERIALISM DAY!)
OCTOBER 16: Utilitarianism
OCTOBER 21: Marxism
OCTOBER 23: Political Liberalism
INTERLUDE – BUILDING STUDY SKILLS
OCTOBER 28: Study Skills – Citation Formatting & Paper Writing
OCTOBER 30: Study Skills – How to Study For a Test
PART TWO – THE AMERICAN EXPERINCE
NOVEMBER 4: The Age of Democratic Revolutions [FIRST DRAFT DUE]
NOVEMBER 6: The Constitution
NOVEMBER 11: American Democracy?
NOVEMBER 13: The Peculiar Institution
NOVEMBER 18: The Religion Question
NOVEMBER 20: Jim Crow America
NOVEMBER 25: Civil Rights
NOVEMBER 27: NO CLASS (ENJOY THANKSGIVING)
DECEMBER 2: Post-9/11 America
PART THREE – MODERN POLITICAL DEBATES
DECEMBER 4: Church & State in Modern America
DECEMBER 9: Gun Control
DECEMBER 11: Affirmative Action
DECEMBER 16: Final Paper Due