SPRING 2021 SYLLABUS: Academic English Reading for Politics & Public Administration (Sophomore Reading Online, "English literature reading" for 2020班)
Meeting Time & Location: Tuesdays at 10AM & Thursdays at 8AM, on DingTalk.
Instructor: Mr. Julian Lee 李立安 Class Website: www.omnifoo.info/pages/OnlinePAReadingS22.html
Office: None. The instructor will be located in Thailand, India, & Sri Lanka, with hopes that China may open its borders before the end of the semester.
Email: omniscientfool@tom.com
Jump to: "Chalkboard" file 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. 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 online 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.

AMERICAN NEWS WEBSITES IN ENGLISH ACCESSIBLE IN CHINA: General & Easy to Read - USA Today ...(Left-Wing/Liberal) - CommonDreams ...(Right-Wing/Conservative) - Red State (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.

Care to see what Julian's other classes are doing? Visit the NENU landing page for his current and previous 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:


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!



WEEK 1 (3-1, 3-3): TUES.- Texts... What makes something a text? Texts VS. images. What kinds of texts and sources will we focus on in this course? Explore different kinds of texts in an updated textual categorization exercise. THURS. - Introduction to the topic of health and public health in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. READINGS (for WEEK 3): Comparison of border closures in Japan versus Mexico staying open. In the U.S. context, an editorial questions whether lockdowns, masks, & vaccine mandates were tyranny, and another questions the study central to the previous author's evidence.

WEEK 2 ( 3-8, 3-10): TUES.- Session canceled due to Covid-19 testing. THURS.- Correct and discuss text categorization exercise (extended session).

WEEK 3 ( 3-15, 3-17): TUES. - Finish textual categorization exercise. Texts on public health responses to Covid-19 pandemic. THURS.- Media literacy, basic information about texts.

WEEK 4 (3-22, 3-24): TUES. - Articles on border closure & immigration during Covid-19 pandemic comparing Japan & Mexico. HOMEWORK: Comprehension quiz on Lewis's article about Japan. THURS.- Correct & discuss comprehension quiz. Introduce "Covid-19 Do-Over" role-playing game (postponed until students return to the classroom to work in teams).

WEEK 5 ( 3-29, 3-31): TUES.- Introduce the political spectrum (page 2 of this handout. HOMEWORK: Put nine hypothetical Americans on the political spectrum based upon their beliefs & policy preferences. THURS.- Session canceled due to lack of electricity in Sri Lanka.

WEEK 6 ( 4-5, 4-7): TUES.- Qingming holiday NO CLASS. THURS.- Correct & discuss political ideology spectrum placement exercise. HOMEWORK: Watch videos of U.S. politicians & try to determine their position on the poltical spectrum (without looking up their names online).


WEEK 7 ( 4-12, 4-14): TUES.- Discuss partisanship & polarization in the USA using this handout. Introduce an article by Pew Research Center about U.S. polarization. THURS.- Discuss article from Pew on polarization. HOMEWORK: Read two more articles in The Guardian & by The Brookings Institute about the possibility of a new civil war in the USA.

WEEK 8 ( 4-19, 4-21): TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 9 ( 4-26, 4-28):TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 10 ( 5-3, 5-5): TUES.- Small conversation groups. THURS.-

WEEK 11 ( 5-10, 5-12): TUES. - THURS.-

WEEK 12 ( 5-17, 5-19): TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 13 ( 5-24, 5-26): TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 14 ( 5-31, 6-2): TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 15 ( 6-7, 6-9): TUES.- THURS.-

WEEK 16 ( 6-14, 6-16): TUES.-

WEEK 17 ( 6-21, 6-23): TUES. - TBA THURS.- TBA

WEEK 18 ( 6-28, 6-30): TUES. - Final Review Game THURS.-