Sylabus POLS203 Spring 2010

Sylabus POLS203 Spring 2010 - Department of Politics...

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Department of Politics Professor Brian Weiner University of San Francisco Office: 273 Kalmanovitz Hall Spring 2010 Telephone: 422-6861 Class Meetings: TR 3:30-5:15 in 263 Kalmanovitz Hall email: [email protected] Office Hours: Wednesdays 1-2:30, Thursdays 11-12:30, and by appointment. Politics 203: Introduction to Political Theory i. Course Description and Objectives The aim of this course is to introduce you to the study, discussion, and reading of political theory by focusing on central questions of political life. We will examine a number of questions, including: What distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate forms of political power and authority? Under what circumstances and in the name of what values should political power or authority be disobeyed, checked, subverted, or overthrown? How compelling are the arguments for civil disobedience, passive resistance, revolt, or revolution? What forms does modern power take? What do we mean by “power” “equality,” “freedom,” and “rights”? These questions and others will be examined in a theoretical manner. First, we will set the themes of the course by reading a Greek tragedy. Then, we will read works by Plato, Thoreau, and Martin Luther King Jr. that examine tensions between political and legal authority and the individual conscience. Next, we will consider the nature of political obligation by reading key texts in the history of western political theory by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. We then will examine the nature of modern power and the possibilities for resistance and (democratic) liberation by reading works by Karl Marx (and Friedrich Engels), Sandra Bartky, and Michel Foucault. Finally, we conclude the course by reading three short pieces that examine the nature of democracy. II. Course Requirements, Attendance and Grading Policy Students are required to attend class, to complete the assigned reading before the class period during which it will be discussed, and to participate in class discussion. You should be prepared to ask and answer questions about the reading. "Pop" quizzes may be given throughout the semester on the reading. Always bring the book under discussion to class. Please note that missing more than 4 classes will result in the lowering of your final grade by one full grade. Also note that I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences: that is, missing more than 4 classes (excused or unexcused) will result in the lowering of the final grade. Likewise, missing more than 6 classes will result in the lowering of the final grade by 1 ½ grades, and more than 8 classes in the lowering of the final grade by 2 grades (etc.).
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In addition to class participation, course requirements include: pop quizzes, three papers (4-8 pages), a written response to a Human Rights film or Global Women’s Rights event, and a final cumulative in-class examination. The semester grade will be determined as follows: First Paper: (due 2/25/10) 15% Second Paper:
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Sylabus POLS203 Spring 2010 - Department of Politics...

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