POL 103

Comparative Politics

General Information

Professor Chad Rector

Mondays and Thursdays 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Ballston 3010


Syllabus


Students should always feel free to meet with me individually or in groups. If you are a student and you find me, it is always okay to ask to talk about your work in a particular course or your broader educational or career goals. If I am working on something else, I will set it aside to speak with you.

Following the transition to this being an online course, you can meet with me one-on-one by setting up a videoconference with me by using my appointment calendar. (You must be logged in to gmail or Marymount email. Scroll to the right to see future weeks.) Once you reserve a time I will be in touch with you that morning with a link for a conference by Zoom.

Course evaluations from previous semesters.


Assignments:


Meetings:


The assigned electronic textbook is Samuels, David. 2018. Comparative Politics, second edition. It is available at the Pearson web page at this link: https://www.vitalsource.com/referral?term=9780134637174


Sample of exams from prior years. Note that reading assignments change from year to year, so past exams may refer to different topics. However, the basic exam format will be the same.



Grades

Final course grades will be determined on a fixed scale, not on a curve. Each assignment is worth a fixed number of points, listed below; these add up to 100. Each assignment will be returned with a numerical score. Course grades will be based on the total number of points out the 100 possible, with 90-100 an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60-69 a D, and 59 and below an F.


Course grades will be based on a weighted average of the following:

  • Three exams. 15% each, 45% total. Each exam consists of two parts: 5 short-answer identification questions worth 2% each (choose 5 out of 8) and 1 short essay question worth 5% (choose 1 out of 2). Students who miss exams will have one chance to take a makeup and will be marked down unless they have a valid medical or university business excuse. The exams will be written in class without books, notes, computers, phones, audio devices, or other aids. Students found violating the Marymount principles of Academic Integrity will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process.
  • Three short papers. 15% each, 45% total. The specific assignments will be posted online three weeks before each due date. Students turning in papers containing plagiarism will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process. Papers will be marked down one point for each day (or fraction of a day) late for the first five days after the deadline; any paper late more than five days may be turned in for up to half credit at any time before the final exam.
  • One-on-one meeting. 5%. Bring to my office an outline of a short paper you plan to write for either the first or second paper assignment. This must include source references, a thesis statement, and a summary of each contributing fact and idea.
  • Group meeting. 5%. A complete outline of a topic. This must be prior to the first exam.


There are substantial opportunities for extra credit:

  • Extra credit games. We will play several games in class over the semester. Students who are in class will receive extra credit points which can significantly improve final course grade, depending on how they do in the game. Games will not be announced ahead of time, cannot be made up, and will not be held on recognized religious holidays.
  • DC event. 5% for a first event and 3% for a second. Attend an informative, professional lecture, seminar, or hearing in the DC area on the subject of public affairs and write a summary of your experience. Specific instructions about attending and reporting on events are here. Summaries must be well-written to receive credit; I will send back poorly-written ones for revisions before they are accepted. You will receive 5 extra credit points for one event, and 3 points for a second. These must be submitted before the last meeting of the semester.
  • Class participation. Students who consistently contribute in a thoughtful and constructive way to class discussions may earn up to 4% in extra credit.

Students will not be penalized for missing a class or exam for a recognized religious holiday.

There is no specific grade for "attendance" (although for university administrative purposes I will occasionally record attendance anyway). This is a course in which I expect regular class participation and attendance. Students earn participation grades for sharing ideas with the class, not simply for showing up. Since there is no such thing as an "excused" absence, so there is no reason to give me an excuse or note if you are absent.

Papers will be marked down one point for each day (or fraction of a day) late. Students who miss an exam will have one chance to take a makeup and will be marked down unless they have a valid medical or university business excuse. Students will not be penalized for missing a class assignment for a recognized religious holiday. The exams will be written in class without books, notes, computers, phones, audio devices, or other aids.

I may, at my discretion, check any written assignments for plagiarism at any time during or after the semester, using electronic or other means. Students found violating the Marymount principles of Academic Integrity will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process. By accepting this syllabus and enrolling in the course, students acknowledge that they have reviewed the University’s standards of academic integrity.


Course Schedule and Readings

Readings should be completed before the class session under which they are listed. “Chapter” refers to a chapter in the assigned textbook. Readings outside the textbook are linked below.

Listed by each class meeting day is a reading assignment. Complete the reading before the class meeting.


Part 1: The balance of coercion and consent


January 13

Introduction and overview (slides)


January 16

Theory and evidence (slides)

Reading: Chapter 1 and The Democracy Doomsayers Consider 2020


January 23

Violence and Order (slides)

Reading: Chapter 2


January 27

Democratic institutions (slides)


January 30

Parliamentary democracy (slides)

Reading: Chapter 3


February 3

Parties and voting (slides)


Paper #1 due February 5


February 6

Immigration (slides)

Reading: Chapter 13


February 10

Immigration / Ethics week

Meet in Ballston Auditorium

Reading: The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely and Why the Left is Wrong About Immigration


February 13

Iraq

Meet in Ballston Auditorium

Reading: Iraq's Protesters


February 17

Coercion (slides)

Reading: Chapter 4


February 20

Authoritarianism (slides)


February 24

First Exam



Part 2: State and Society


February 27

Regime Change (slides)

Reading: Start Chapter 5


March 2

Social activism and mobilization (slides)

Reading: Finish Chapter 5


March 5

Democracy breaking down (slides)


Paper #2 due March 6


Spring Break


March 16

Class meeting cancelled


March 19

Identity (slides and lecture)

Reading: Chapter 6


March 23 and 26

Religion and Gender (slides and lectures)

Reading: Chapters 7 and 8


Paper #3 due March 29 (moved to April 14)


March 30 and April 2

Collective action and violence (slides and lectures)

Readings: Chapters 9 and 10


April 6

Review session by zoom, Monday 11:45-1


Second Exam this week


Paper #3 due April 14



Easter break



Part 3: Political Economy


Segment 1: Global poverty and development

April 14, 16, and 20

Reading: Chapter 11

Lectures and slides (posted on April 14)


Segment 2: Redistribution and public investment

April 23 and 27

Reading: Chapter 12

Lectures and slides (posted April 23)


April 30, 11:45 to 1

Live online review session and discussion


About May 4

Third Exam (take home exam over a three-day period)