POL 386 - Spring 2018

Spring 2018 POL386 Politics of East Asia includes a 1-week site visit to South Korea. Apply now. 

Email Professor Rector with questions about the course. 

Wednesdays 10:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Ballston, room 3034.

Note that this is a regular spring semester course, with a study abroad component. We will travel as a class to Seoul, South Korea, over spring break for a series of site visits. 

Student blog posts from the Spring semester 2015.

Student course evaluations from the Spring semester 2015.

General Information

Syllabus available in December 2017.

As a writing-intensive (WI) course, the primary focus of the class will be the development of individual research projects. Students will be expected to draw on library materials, the resources of the DC area, and the experiences of the site visits in Korea to assemble a coherent research paper by the end of the semester. 


Course Assignments and Grades

Course grades will be based on a weighted average of the following:
  • Midterm exam. 15%. Covers basic concepts in East Asian politics. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms will be posted here. 45 minutes of class time.  
  • Map test. 5%. Correctly identify major East Asian countries and cities, and basic points on a map of Seoul. Students will have several chances to complete the exam prior to spring break; I'll record each student's highest score.
  • Term paper. 60%. Term papers are at least 4000 words long (about 16 pages), and explore in depth a political issue involving East Asia. Assignments are due at midnight at the end of the specified day. A lot more detail about the term paper assignment will be posted here. The term paper will be completed in several steps: 
    • Topic paragraph. 5%.
    • Summaries of three scholarly articles. 5% each, total 15%. 
    • Case study. 5%. 
    • Initial draft. 15%.
    • Final draft. 15%. 
    • Class presentation. 5%. 
  • Peer reviews. 10%. Two reviews (5% each) of other student drafts, following an assigned format. You may write up to 2 additional high-quality reviews, for up to 3% in extra credit points each.
  • Travel journals. 10%. A series of short writing assignments asking students to revisit concepts from the course in light of experiences in Korea. 
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.)
  • Extra peer reviews. Students who turn in a complete draft on time may complete up to two additional peer reviews for up to 3% each. Email me within four days of turning in your draft to get an extra credit assignment. I will give specific due dates with each assignment, but in any case these must be completed no later than the day of the final exam.
  • Wikipedia edit. Properly edit a Wikipedia article to include a sensible reference to a properly-cited scholarly article (one you used for one of your summaries) and email me a link to the log. See this tutorial or attend the class session of POL 250 in the library classroom, time TBA. Up to 4% for a well-formatted edit. This must be completed by the day of the final exam.   
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 France and will not have the travel fees refunded. 

As this is a writing-intensive (WI) course, the completion of a revised full-length term paper is a non-negotiable requirement. Any student who does not complete a full revision will not pass the class. 

Assigned readings

Books required for purchase will be posted here.

In addition, here are six more required purchases, about which you have some options:
Things to do before leaving for the trip:
  • Follow Korean news
  • Practice with your metal chopsticks
  • Make sure you have google translate on your phone, and download the Korean language pack

Course Schedule and Readings

The course is organized in three segments. In the first part of the course we'll cover the politics of South Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan. The second part of the course is the site visit to Korea over spring break. In the third part of the course students complete their research projects.

The specific format of the course will be very similar to the Spring 2015 section of POL 386 (syllabus here) and the Spring 2017 section of POL 382 (syllabus here) although the specific topics and reading assignments will be different.

Why is South Korea interesting?
  • In 1970 South Korea was one of the poorest, least-developed countries on Earth. Now it is one of the most developed and wealthiest (in average living standards). The choices the Korean government made to promote development are studied by other governments throughout the world who seek to copy their success.
  • In the 1980s a massive wave of protests toppled South Korea's dictatorship and replaced it with a democracy. Will China become a democracy? The recent history of South Korea may provide some clues.
  • Four years ago South Koreans elected an outsider as president, representing the right-wing party. The new president promised to end cronyism and corruption, but as it turned out was herself super-corrupt. Massive street protests followed, the president was impeached and removed from office and is now in jail.  
  • Catchy Korean pop videos are a unique product of early government investments in wireless data networks and the structure of Korean corporate conglomerates that, encouraged by the government as part of its cultural diplomacy, trained and promoted multilingual pop stars.