POL 360: Global Political Economy - Fall 2017

General Information

Wednesdays, 10:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
4040 (Ballston), room 314

The application process for the course is now closed. If you think you have a good reason why you should be admitted off the waiting list please contact me as soon as possible.  

This course is an in-depth examination of theories that seek to explain how political systems address economic inequality, development, trade, labor relations, investment, migration, and natural resources, with applications to contemporary international politics. 

The course will meet regularly on campus as a regular fall semester course. At the end of the fall 2017 semester the course will travel as a group to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for 10 days of site visits from January 2 to January 12, 2018. Both the fall semester course meetings and assignments as well as the travel component are required elements of the course. Site visits in Vietnam will include governmental and non-governmental development, public health, and infrastructure projects; private firms producing for local and export markets; meetings with former government officials; and meetings at a Vietnamese university. Students in the Marymount program will work with local Vietnamese university students on a series of group investigations. 

This course meets Marymount's "Global Perspectives" and "Advanced Social Science" requirements. 

Course Assignments and Grades

Course grades will be based on a weighted average of the following:
  • 4 exams. 10% each, 40% total. Each exam covers basic concepts in political economy. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms will be posted on the course web page. 45 minutes of class time. The first exam will cover the relationship between economic interests and political action, the second will cover international trade and investment, the third will cover labor relations and inequality, and the fourth will cover economic and political development and migration.
  • 3 papers, 15% each, 45% total. Each paper is 5-8 pages long and covers a specific contemporary issue that can serve as an example of a general theory of political economy. Each paper will be written by referencing at least two academic political science articles and at least three newspaper or other journalistic sources. I will provide students with a list of academic articles to choose from. The first paper will cover some aspect of inequality, the second paper some aspect of globalization, and the third paper some aspect of development.
  • 3 travel journal assignments, 5% each, 15% total. Each travel journal assignment includes several components, including written descriptions and photos, with each journal assignment accounting for about 1-2 pages of writing. 
Extra credit:
  • Class participation. Students may earn up to 5% for sustained, constructive contributions to class discussions. 
  • DC event. 5% for a first event and 3% for a second. Attend an event in the DC area on the subject of global security and write a blog post summarizing your experience. Specific instructions about attending and reporting on events are here. Posts must be well-written to receive credit; I will send back poorly-written posts for revisions before they are accepted. You will receive 5 extra credit points for one event and post, and 3 points for a second. All blog posts submitted by the day of the final exam. (Blog posts are kept private by default, but we may make selected posts public by mutual agreement.)   
Any student who misses 3 or 4 class sessions will lose 1/3 of a letter grade for the grade for the course. Any student who misses 5 class sessions will automatically fail the course. Any student who does not fully participate in the travel component of the course, or who significantly disrupts the site visits, will automatically fail the course. 

Any student who violates the code of Academic Integrity, by cheating on an in-class exam or plagiarizing a written assignment, will automatically fail the course. 

Students who fail the course automatically, due to poor attendance or an academic integrity violation, will not participate in the site visit to Vietnam and will not have the travel fees refunded. 

A number of articles are required for the course; these will be posted on Canvas. Two books are required for the course:
    • International Political Economy: Perspectives on Global Power and Wealth (Sixth Edition), edited by by Jeffry A. Frieden, David A. Lake, and J. Lawrence Broz.  W. W. Norton & Company 2017, 978-0393603880.
    • Changing Worlds: Vietnam's Transition from Cold War to Globalization, by David W.P. Elliott. Oxford University Press 2014, 978-0199377589.
In addition, students should purchase:
    • guidebooks and city maps that cover the southern part of Vietnam
    • practice chopsticks
    • electrical adapters as needed
Participants in the course should:
    • bring a smartphone, tablet, or laptop they can use while in-country to communicate and to take pictures for photo essay assignments
    • be prepared for a physically-demanding program in a humid environment
    • bring walking shoes or boots and clothing appropriate for the weather
    • be prepared to eat food that may not be familiar
    • be prepared to be immersed, with an open mind, in a culture that may not be familiar  

Course Schedule

Coursework on site in Vietnam will be from January 2 to 12, 2018 and will include a number of site visits. We will distribute and post a detailed itinerary for the trip before we travel, and will post at least some details on this site as we confirm them over the summer and fall 2017. 

Specific reading assignments and schedule for the semester will be posted in summer.