INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Instructor: Dr. Alan B. Beck
Class Meetings: MWF, 12-12:50 pm
T-TH 12:30-1:45 pm
Office hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 10 am to
Wednesdays/Fridays, 1-3 pm
Goals of this course
This course provides the opportunity to learn about politics in a variety of different societies:
the structure of their political systems and the ways in which people participate, as well as the
factors that have contributed to the differences among countries—historical, cultural, political,
geographical, and economic circumstances, and the impact of international events and trends.
We will explore the cultural and political values that contribute to their politics, the impact of
world affairs on their political systems, and how the differences in their political systems affect
the lives of people.
I approach all Political Science courses as opportunities to help to empower
students and to prepare students for a life of engaged citizenship. For Political Science majors,
the study of comparative politics will provide a foundation for further studies in the field. But
most students in this course are majoring or planning to major in other fields. For everyone here,
this course will help you to gain knowledge of politics and its importance to your lives, to obtain
a base of knowledge of politics and tools of analysis that will help you to understand political
phenomena, the reasons they occur, and how they affect people. The knowledge and intellectual
tools you gain here will hopefully enhance your ability to understand the importance of political
matters, to stand up for yourselves politically, to think in a sophisticated way about politics, and
to participate meaningfully in democratic governance.
In the study of politics, the world is our
laboratory. Therefore, we will have frequent discussions of current events—the reasons they are
happening, the motivations of the actors, the problems they reflect, the implications for us, etc.
Comparative Politics In Transition,
Edition (Wadsworth, 2010)
The Washington Post (
Handed out or posted on my web site during the term
Freedom House human rights reports: