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Teaching Comparative Politics for College Students

Spring 2012

The topics of this semester are related to the political systems of different nations. Generally, these systems are regarded from a comparative perspective. The course is based on fundamental processes and concepts of comparative politics. Thus, when speaking about the basic issues of the discipline, one is to keep in mind that the course focuses on the domestic and internal politics of major nations. In other words, no international relations are to be discussed. Finding the similarities and differences between political systems is the key issue the students must be taught. At the end of the course, the students must determine the consequences and outcomes of political systems operation.

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The specific learning goals (objectives) of this course are

  1. Develop a strong research interest – Students are to be interested in the areas of comparative politics studies. They are to support their claims with quotations, certain statistical data, special investigations, etc. Students must operate available data the course offers.
  2. Develop critical thinking – Students are to understand all pros and cons of the topic they study. They have to analyze and evaluate information critically, i.e. they must understand not only the advantages/benefits the topic contains but also the weaknesses of a certain author’s judgment. Students’ claims are to be supported with facts, etc.
  3. Develop analytical skills – While working with various sources, students are to define certain contradictions the topic can be based on. They have to offer ways to solve complex problems. They are to formulate plans, to rely on logical thinking, to resolve a complicated issue.
  4. Develop organizational skills – Students have to identify not only the primary problem but also numerous secondary ones. They must define the key reasons for a certain problem. They are to understand and determine the principles of causation.
  5. Understand the importance of prioritization – Students are to understand and analyze the importance of experience, priorities are derived from. They must operate theoretical and practical knowledge. Students should determine values priorities are based on.

Course topics

The first week / Second week: familiarization course

Comparing Countries: the students are to study ethnic conflict, the importance of revolution, and democratization. Western/Eastern Europe, Middle East, Asia can be studied.

Recommended books:

Almond, G. A., & Powell, G. B. (1966). Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach. Boston: Little, Brown. Web.

Charlton, S. E. (1997). Comparing Asian Politics: India, China, and Japan. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Web.

Lovell, D. W. (1999). Nationalism, Civil Society and the Prospects for Freedom in Eastern Europe. The Australian Journal of Politics and History, 45(1), 65. Web.

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The third week / the Fourth week

Globalization and Opposition Movements: the students are to study the political effects of economic globalization; the principles of causation of opposition movements.

Recommended books:

Armbruster-Sandoval, R. (2005). Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice. New York: Routledge. Web.

The fifth week / Sixth week: a comparative analysis

Government and Politics in Central America: the students are to study economic development and political institutions.

Recommended books:

Anderson, T. P. (1988). Politics in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua (Revised ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger. Web.

The seventh week / the Eighth week

Government and Politics in the Middle East: the students are to become familiar with the political ideologies of Islamic societies.

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Recommended books:

Sharabi, H. B. (1962). Governments and Politics of the Middle East in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand. Web.

Owen, R. (2004). State, Power, and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Routledge. Web.

Ninth week / Tenth week: relations determination

Contemporary Issues in Comparative Politics

Recommended books:

Landman, T. (2003). Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. Web.

The eleventh week / Twelfth week

Democracy in a Globalizing World: the students are to establish the relations of causality between democracy and development.

Recommended books:

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Held, D. (Ed.). (2004). A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (2nded.). London: Routledge. Web.

The thirteenth week / the Fourteenth week

State and Society in Africa: the students are to study the interdependence between democracy and governance.

Recommended books:

Wohlgemuth, L., Gibson, S., Klasen, S., & Rothschild, E. (Eds.). (2000). Common Security and Civil Society in Africa. Uppsala: Nordic African Institute. Web.



% of total grade Description Assignment
5 (each) Twice during the semester Comparative analysis: theory and practice examination
5 (each) NA Class discussions
20 TBA Cause and effect paper
20 TBA Analytical paper
30 Once during the semester Final examination
(a whole course)

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