SPRING 2018 SYLLABUS: Professional English for Political Science (Sophomore Reading)
Meeting Time & Location: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10-11:30AM, Classroom 5.
Instructor: Mr. Julian Lee 李立安 Class Website: www.omnifoo.info/pages/PSReading.html
Office: Rm. 301 & occasionally Newark Bldg. Rm. 245. Office hours by appointment.
Email: omniscientfool@tom.com
Jump to: Exams Class Schedule Midterm Review Games

OVERVIEW: This course aims to introduce students to a wide variety of political articles, topics, and authors in English. Primary goals in terms of skill-building are to increase students' critical reading and critical thinking abilities. At first, only short excerpts of larger articles will be studied, along with one or two full, short articles. Texts will become gradually more difficult and academic as the course progresses. By the end of the course, we will attempt to read at least one academic article. For academic articles, emphasis will be placed on the importance of understanding the abstract (including the types of evidence and arguments), introduction, and conclusion. Students may have some input in what topics and perhaps even what texts will be assigned. To make class discussion more interesting, the instructor will try to assign at least two texts with opposing viewpoints and/or arguments. By the midterm, students can expect to read up to five short articles per week for maximum exposure to varying viewpoints on political topics, and it is expected that each student's reading ability will improve to a level where the increase in the amount of reading will hardly be noticed. In order to be relevant and current, readings will not be assigned (posted below) more than a few weeks in advance. As this will be students' first and perhaps only course with this instructor (and are assumed not to have previously had a class with a foreign teacher), content will be significantly easier than the course offered in spring 2016 and will also involve more work on listening and speaking skills for classroom interaction. More readings than previously will also focus on politics in general or a comparative/domestic context, rather than an international one.This course will share a similar structure, along with materials and activities, with an international politics version. 讲课的语言是英语。 听/看不懂英语的学生千万要提前安排助学办法。

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES: Depending on students' receptiveness, a variety of activities will be employed in this class. Most often, class time will be spent discussing (and/or explaining) assigned readings, but sometimes we will read new texts in class. On topics with readings presenting opposing viewpoints, students can expect to debate the merits and drawbacks of different positions in small groups and as a class. Occasionally we will play team and individual games. Above all, class sessions will be ACTIVE, with lots of student participation and a goal of minimizing lecture time by the instructor. If the instructor finds that student preparation (reading assigned texts) is lacking or insufficient, small comprehension quizzes will be given at the beginning of classes as "daily grades" (平时成绩).

TEXTUAL COMPREHENSION & INTERPRETATION: As a reading course, texts will be approached as documents to be understood and evaluated individually and as a class. For each text of significant length, in-class discussion will follow a structural approach which will be, at least for the first few weeks, very rigid. Discussion will be structured as follows, with volunteers or possibly assigned roles to be prepared before class if a few students dominate the early discussions. Texts will be introduced by their title, author, and media source and discussed first in terms of the credibility of the latter two categories. The instructor will ask what the topic of the text is. The instructor will ask what the "main idea" or main argument is and, if it contains a persuasive argument, whether students are convinced by the argument (and why/why not). At some point the instructor will also ask what assumptions the author makes and what biases, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, s/he carries in the text. After these basic points are established, deeper discussion of the text will follow, based on the individual points the author makes, especially with regard to the evidence used to make the main argument. At various points, the instructor will also interject with comprehension questions. The question of who the intended audience is (Whom is the author trying to convince?) should also come up. While students are encouraged to have a copy of the texts to be discussed for a particular session, whether they are printed or on a digital screen, the instructor will generally try to have all texts projected onto the screen at the front of class for discussion.

EXAMS: Both the midterm and final exams will test students' comprehension of texts and topics we have read and discussed in class but also introduce at least one new text. Care will be taken to make sure that the new text will either be easy or on the same topic as texts studied in class. The purpose of introducing new texts on the exam is to be sure that the course is not only building knowledge but also reading skills while also presenting students with real-life scenarios of trying to understand a text without prior preparation or outside aid. If desired, we may take a practice exam with a new text before the midterm. It is possible that exams may include some questions to be answered orally, if students wish to practice listening & speaking more.

GRADING: The midterm and final exams will be the main determinants of the final grade, with attendance and daily grades influencing borderline cases.

RECOMMENDED AMERICAN NEWS WEBSITES IN ENGLISH: General & Easy to Read - Washington Post ...(Left-Wing/Liberal) - CommonDreams ...(Right-Wing/Conservative) - National Review (There are lots more of each, and you're encouraged to explore! Many are unfortunately not accessible from China.) Any time you read something interesting about the U.S. election in Chinese or English, please bring a copy of it or a link to the article so we can discuss it in class.

WECHAT POLICY: It is the instructor's policy not to add current students to social media, though some past students which are again current will not be removed. Please contact the instructor via email rather than by WeChat, text message, or phone unless extremely urgent. After the course is over, the instructor welcomes social media inquiries.

Care to see what Julian's other classes are doing? Visit the NENU landing page for his reading, writing, public administration, and IR theory courses. All classes should have received a copy of EFL student guides to Western music and Western movies. Feel free to share and distribute them.

Every effort will be made to present class materials in a fair manner which does not unconciously or excessively privilege Western thought and theories over Chinese and other approaches. However, given the instructor's training in a U.S. university, the majority of the material will be presented as closely as possible to an "Intro to IR" class in the USA. Anyone wishing to object officially, of course, has the option of reporting the instructor to the hotline reported below:

http://jlrbszb.chinajilin.com.cn/html/2015-11/01/content_176708.htm

It is hoped that will not be necessary, and we can use this class to learn and discuss collegially how China and the U.S. view international politics!

 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

WEEK 1 ( 3-6, 3-8): Instructor will be returning from the Golden Triangle this week, so students should prepare the following assignment for the first session... READING/HOMEWORK: Pre-class Assignment on Textual Categorization THURS.- Course introduction. Texts & sources in IR/Political Science (& how U.S. universities treat your major). What makes something a text? Texts VS. images. What kinds of texts and sources will we focus on in this course? READINGS: Two handouts given in class on basic politcal terms & structures.

WEEK 2 ( 3-13, 3-15): TUES. - Finish discussion of Textual Categorization Pre-Class Assignment. Distribute glossaries on Reading & Writing, Critical Thinking, etc. READINGS: handouts on basic political terms & structures. THURS. - Diagram and describe how U.S. universities study politics. Read & discuss handouts on basic political terms & structures. READINGS: A brief history of the post-FDR 22nd Amendment and the 2-term precedent set by Pres. George Washington. "Top Five Reasons We Need Term Limits!" on the website for the organization petitioning for U.S. congressional term limits. Arguments against term limits in Congress (indeed, against even considering an amendment imposing them) could hardly be punchier than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's quotation, "We have term limits; they're called elections." At greater length against them, please read the recent "Five Reasons to Oppose Congressional Term Limits" on the Brookings Institute's website. Optional if you'd like more academic detail, read the account of Prof. Julia Azari of Marquette University (where I got my first MA).

WEEK 3 ( 3-20, 3-22): TUES.- Talk about basic information about texts, including their type, source, title, author, topic, main idea, authors' credibility & bias, etc. Discuss the terms and term limits of the U.S. and other countries in various government positions. READINGS & HOMEWORK: States...according to Global Policy Forum; Each student should choose a different way that term "state" is modified and used in politics and prepare a 2-to-3-minute description of what it means, how it is used, and examples either from history or the present day. Some suggestions (in alphabetical order): BRIC state/"The BRICs", buffer state, city-state, coup d'etat, developing (LDC) VS. developed country, enemy of the state, failed state, federal VS. unitary state, "great statesman", imperialist state, irredentist state, (The) Leviathan, micro-state, nation-state, NIC (newly industrializing country), occupied state, pariah state, petro-state, police state, polity = state, red state VS. blue state VS. "purple" state (swing state), "traditional VS. virtual" state, state capitalism (Red/Chinese capitalism), state capture, State of the Union (Address), the state (public) sector VS. the private sector, State-Society relations, the state as unit/level of analysis in IR, "states' rights" in U.S. history, unrecognized state, U.S. Department of State (The State Dept., led by the U.S. Secretary of State), (the) welfare state. THURS.- Instructor gives an example "state term" presentation on one of the more difficult ones: "traditional VS. virtual" state. Students present theirs next week after confirming with instructor. Geography Name Game: "City, Country, Province, U.S. State, or None?" Read the instructor's handout on -archy and -cracy . In a notebook or on a piece of paper, rank the "Top 3" kinds of "-archy & -cracy" you would want to live in (and why) and the "Bottom 3" you think would be the worst to live under (Choose from, in alphabetical order: anarchy, autocracy, democracy, gerontocracy, gynarchy (matriarchy), kleptocracy, meritocracy, monarchy, oligarchy, patriarchy, plutocracy, theocracy. Discuss your rankings with your classmates and as a class.READINGS: Read whatever you need to prepare for your "State" Term presentations.

WEEK 4 ( 3-27, 3-29): TUES. - Students read their 2-to-3-minute descriptions and discuss similarities and differences as a class. In pairs, discuss...1. Do all these different kinds of states and state-related terms really exist? Have they ever existed? 2. Do we reify them by talking about them as if they exist/have existed? Discuss handout and examples of the different kinds of people who rule and lead to the labels being used. Diagram & discuss various regime types as used in the subfield of comparative politics. READINGS: Regime types: two classic pieces on regime types from the 1990s by Schmitter & Karl and another by Linz & Stepan.THURS. - Finish "state" presentations. Voted on "best" and "worst" from -cracy & -archy: "Winner" = democracy, "Loser" = kleptocracy. Introduced the two texts on regime types.

WEEK 5 ( 4-3, 4-5): TUES. - Discuss regime types and the two articles in detail. READINGS: The first section of a recent article by Yascha Mounk in The Atlantic . Be prepared to take a practice quiz on this reading after the holiday. THURS. - Qingming Holiday, NO CLASS?

WEEK 6 ( 4-10, 4-12): TUES. - Practice reading comprehension quiz on Mounk's article. READINGS: Media and politics in Zakaria's comparative essay "Democracy Is Decaying Worldwide. America Isn't Immune." The rise of "fake news" in a comparative article in The Telegraph, and an analysis of charts comparing U.S. media bias. All three readings as a pdf here. THURS. - Correct & discuss the practice quiz and how similar it will be to the midterm & final exams. READINGS: Media & politics from Tues.

WEEK 7 ( 4-17, 4-19):TUES. - Discuss the relationship between mass media and regime types, with a focus on the differences between a "free press" under liberal democracy compared to other regime types. Consider three models of media influence: The Hypodermic Model, The Minimal Effects Model, & The Agenda-Setting Model. READINGS: Read about liberal/conservative, populist/elite divisions in the USA . THURS. - Introduce "the political spectrum" in the USA and relate it back to the media bias chart. When poor people vote, why do they sometimes vote against their economic interests? Watch preview for film "What's the Matter with Kansas?" READINGS: Continue reading about political outlooks in the USA...a brief blog post gives the basics. Another in Foreign Policy addresses the divide between populists and elites. PDF of both texts here. For homework, identify profiles in U.S. ideological pluralism.

WEEK 8 ( 4-24, 4-26):TUES. - Discuss the "profiles in U.S. ideological pluralism" exercise and Berman's article on populism versus non-responsive technocracy. Why don't poor people participate as much in U.S. politics? Give plan for midterm exam & preparations for it. HOMEWORK: Practice quiz on Berman's Foreign Policy article. THURS. - Collect practice quizzes. Vocabulary Game

WEEK 9 ( 5-1, 5-3): TUES. - Int'l Labor Day, NO CLASS? THURS. - Midterm Review Game, distribute midterm oral exam questions.

WEEK 10 ( 5-8, 5-10): TUES. - Small Conversation Groups. THURS. - Midterm Exam. The "new" text about Trump's populism on the exam by Sean Illing is here.

WEEK 11 ( 5-15, 5-17): TUES. - Return graded exams & discuss. READINGS: Handout on partisanship in the USA. Read about Malaysia's May 9th general election from different perspectives: The former PM Najib Razak's, Al-Jazeera's pro-opposition analysis, Chinese interests in the Global Times and an account of Sinophobia as a campaign issue in Reuters, the Washington Post and the NY Times. All texts in one pdf here. (Feel free to read about it in Chinese-language sources as well...our goal will be to analyze the various biases and determine which sources you think covered the event the best.) THURS. - Build upon the political spectrum with concepts related to partisanship and polarization. Discuss Malaysia's election articles and transition to political economy. Two more recommended texts from NY Times & Reuters summarize how and why PM Najib Razak lost the election. Decide how to watch two films revisiting the global financial crisis of 2008 ten years later through the documentary films "Inside Job" and "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" READINGS: Posner & Weyl survey the history of political economy and why economists today are comparatively "timid." Detrixhe & Grenville consider the relationship between regulation and financial crisis and the prospects of the Trump administration to deregulate the banking industry. All three texts here.

WEEK 12 ( 5-22, 5-25): TUES. -Watch "Inside Job." READINGS: The New York Times warns that the Volcker Rule, put in place to prevent another crisis like 2008, may soon be weakened by the Trump administration. Lots of other examples of how the U.S. gov't regulates the financial industry are included in that article, too! THURS. - Watch "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" READINGS: economic reforms in Changchun from the Los Angeles Times.

WEEK 13 ( 5-29, 5-31): TUES. - Political economy: from planned to capitalist national economies. The "commanding heights" of the economy as a window into comparative political economy & how the government controls, regulates, or is dominated by markets and capital. Discuss financial regulation & whether you think "Money Is the Root of All Evil". READINGS: Handout on secrecy, classification, and transparency. China's innovative but controversial social credit system, as described by Wired , views on privacy and surveillance in the 2006 German film, "The Lives of Others" 窃听风暴, an essay by Stuart Armstrong on the positive side of "total surveillance" Optional films: "We Steal Secrets," "Snowden," "Citizenfour" Both articles as a pdf here. THURS. - Discuss surveillance, privacy, transparency and secrecy.

WEEK 14 (6-5 ,6-7 ):TUES. - Return surveys and discuss results. Discuss texts from political economy and previous week. Review concepts of partisanship and take a quiz on these readings, to be corrected and collected at the end of class as a daily grade. READINGS: Nations & Nationalism... Ch. 1, "Definitions" in Ernest Gellner's classic, Nations and Nationalism, Ch. 3, "Paradigms" in Anthony D. Smith's Nationalism. THURS. - Discuss nations & nationalism the concept of an MDM (market-dominant minority), whether and where Chinese are one, and the consequences of it. Is the U.S. a global one? Introduce & discuss concept of "Overseas Chinese" HOMEWORK: Read about anti-Chinese violence and policies in history and more recent examples of policies toward ethnic minorities ranging from accommodation to genocide. Picture tour of the Ainu on the Washington Post , the conclusion of an archaeology article in Hakai Magazine, and an article about their 2008 official recognition in the NY Times. Articles from the NY Times on the Xibe (Xibo) and the Manchu language. Fan Yiying's 2017 warning of linguistic extinction. PDF of all readings here. Optional: Read what it's like to be the very last speaker of a language in the NY Times profile of the world's only living Taushiro, as a pdf here. More controversial readings are available but not to be listed or discussed in this course.

WEEK 15 ( 6-12, 6-14): TUES. - National preservation in the face of extinction in comparative perspective: Discuss the Ainu & the Manchu, anti-Chinese sentiment's causes and expressions in history and contemporary examples of "Sinophobia". What is the range of policy options for national minorities? Compare examples which are anti-PRC and those which target the ethnic Chinese diaspora. HOMEWORK: Divide into five groups to make presentations about the Chinese diaspora in five different articles about five different contexts: Kenya, Burma/Myanmar, NYC, Canada, and Australia. Another group may cover the case of Japanese immigrants in Peru being called "Chinos" by native Peruvians. All readings in pdf here. THURS. - Meet in groups to prepare a 5-15-minute presentation on your article. HOMEWORK: Be ready to present. Recommended reading: The First Chinese American. Recommended Viewing: PBS documentary from May 2018 on The Chinese Exclusion Act.

WEEK 16 ( 6-19, 6-21):TUES. - Groups present on their articles. If time remains, we will compare and discuss the articles and the Chinese diaspora as a whole as a class. THURS. - Vocabulary game.

WEEK 17 ( 6-26, 6-28):TUES. - Small conversation groups. THURS. - Final review game. Class photo?

WEEK 18 (7-3): TUES. - Final Exam?

 

TBA = To Be Announced.

This syllabus is subject to change and will be updated throughout the semester. Check back regularly to be fully informed!

Potential Topics, Readings, Assignments, etc. (Including those suggested by students):

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