Introduction to the Study of Government

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Medium:
Syllabus
Course Level:
100
Course Length:
8 weeks (online); 16 weeks on campus
Credits:
3
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Course Description

Explores some of the main fields within the discipline of government (e.g., comparative politics, political theory) as well as some of the main approaches to the study of government (e.g., interpretivism, behavioralism, institutionalism). Various theories of integration for the study and understanding of government are also introduced.

Course Summary and Aims (Learning Objectives)

This course serves as the introduction to the Government Major and the discipline of government and/or political science. Further, this course is one option among others within the general education social science requirement.

As the introduction to the Government Major, this course provides students with two fundamental pre-requisites for the study of government and politics:

  1. A theological and philosophical understanding of the underpinnings of government, politics, and political science;

  2. A general survey of the subfields within which government and politics are studied;

  3. A study of the importance of statesmanship for democratic politics and society.

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Display an understanding of the integration of theology and philosophy with the study of government and politics;

  2. Recognize the possible relationships between culture and politics as well as the outcomes of such relationships;

  3. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of democracy as well as the historical existence and contemporary practice of democracy in the world;

  4. Recognize some of the different methods, approaches, and tools for the study of government and politics.

  5. Explain and define the concept of statesmanship and its relation and importance to government, politics, and democratic institutions.

The learning objectives of this course should be understood as complimentary to each other. In order to be truthful and good statesmen, we should have a basic understanding of politics and the ideas that animate the nation. It makes common sense that we should know how institutions work if we are to understand how to effect change for the betterment of society.

Required Materials for This Course

Students are responsible for acquiring the following books and materials for this course by the time the course begins:

  • Van Belle, Douglas and Kenneth M. Mash, A Novel Approach to Politics: Introducing political science through books, movies, and popular culture. First Edition (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007) (ISBN 978-1-56802-829-3)
  • Scott, Gregory M. and Stephen M. Garrison. The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual. Sixth Edition (Upper Saddle River: Pearson / Prentice Hall, 2008) (ISBN 978-0-13-602945-8)

The remainder of our readings will come from Internet resources and/or articles located in the Resources folder of this class in Blackboard, and/or are provided in offsite links (all such items are noted in the Assignments for each week).

Additional materials (e.g., PowerPoint files, additional readings, quizzes, media, and the like) may be found on Blackboard. Students are responsible for the information and materials distributed through Blackboard and, for on-ground students, in class.

Course Schedule

Class Reading

  • TEXT (Reading found in Van Belle and Mash textbook)
  • Bb (Reading provided in Blackboard as a hyperlink or document)
  • SWM (Reading found in Scott and Garrison textbook)

Week 1 (OL); Weeks 1 – 2 (OC): Christian Theism, Truth, and Government & Politics

§ Reading Due:
  • TEXT, chapter 1
  • SWM, chapters 2
  • Bb, Groothuis, Douglas. 2004. “Why Truth Matters Most: An Apologetic for Truth-Seeking in Postmodern Times,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47 (3): 441 – 454 (also full-text via the University Library databases)
  • Bb, Craig, William Lane. 1996. “The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality,” Paper presented to the Christian Theological Research Fellowship meeting at the American Academy of Religion (November), (www.afterall.net/papers/16?theme=print)
  • Bb, Robbins, John W. 2004. “The Biblical View of Truth,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, (November) (The Trinity Review, Feb./March, 2005 – www.trinityfoundation.org)
  • Bb, Groothuis, Douglas. 2000. “Postmodernism and Truth,” Philosophia Christi 2 (2): 271 – 281 (also in University Library stacks)
  • Bb, Groothuis, Douglas. 2000. “The Biblical View of Truth Challenges Postmodernist Truth Decay,” Themelios 26 (1): 11-33 (also in University Library stacks).
§ Statesmanship Special Unit: The Foundations of Statesmanship

Considers some of the key elements common to statesmanship as well introduces a democratic critique of statesmanship.

  1. Chapter One in Hayward, Steven F. 2005. Greatness: Reagan, Churchill and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders. Westminster, MD: Crown Publishing Group (E-Book in University Library)
  2. Proverbs 4: 5-13 and 8: 1-36, Holy Bible (Any Version)
  3. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI (e-text version: www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/Projects/digitexts/aristotle/nicomachean_ethics/book06.html
  4. “Chapter XX: Some Characteristics of Historians in Democratic Times” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch1_20.htm)

Reading Questions:

  1. What is political greatness?

  2. How does Hayward understanding of political greatness embody Aristotle and Solomon’s arguments regarding the need of wisdom and prudence?
  3. What are the extremes of historians in democratic times and how could these affect the popular understanding of statesmanship in a democracy?

Week 2 (OL); Weeks 3 – 4 (OC): Christian Theism and Government

§ Reading Due:
  • Bb, Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 2005. “Theological Foundations for an Evangelical Political Philosophy,” In Toward an Evangelical Public Policy, eds. Ronald J. Sider and Diane Knippers. Grand Rapids: Baker Books (Also in University Library stacks)
§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Is Statesmanship Compatible with Christianity and the Pursuit of Wisdom?

Statesmanship is often considered elitist and thus incompatible with Christianity and the virtue and practice of humility and wisdom. In this unit we consider this critique from two opposing vantage points.

  1. Arnhart, Larry. 1983. “Statesmanship as Magnanimity: Classical, Christian & Modern,” Polity 16 (2): 263 – 283. (Bb or full-text via the University Library databases).
  2. Holloway, Carson. 1999. “Christianity, Magnanimity, and Statesmanship,” Review of Politics 61 (4): 581 – 604. (Bb or full-text via the University Library databases).
Reading Questions:
  1. Why does Arnhart consider magnanimity as the essential characteristic of statesmanship?
  2. How does Holloway argue that magnanimity is compatible with Christianity and statesmanship? Are you convinced?

Week 3 (OL); Weeks 5 – 6 (OC): Foundations of Government and Politics

§ Reading Due:
  • TEXT, chapter 3
  • SWM, chapters 3 – 4
  • Altman, Lawrence and William Broad. 2005. “Global Trend: More Science, More Fraud,” New York Times, December 20 (Bb or at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/science/20rese.html)
  • Architectural Diagrams & Description of a Greek Polis (Bb)
  • Plato, “The Ship of State” (Bb)
  • H.W. Longfellow, “O Ship of State” (Bb)
  • Horace, “Odes 1.14” (Bb)
§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Statesmanship, Knowledge, and Governance

Is it possible to know what is good in politics and for government? This unit tackles this important question through a consideration of Plato’s famous argument that the true statesman is always guided by knowledge and not mere opinion.

  1. Plato, “The Ship of State” [Book VI, Republic] (Bb or Stephanus Nos. 487 – 490, pp. 327 – 329 at http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/767/Plato_0131-03_Ebk_v4.pdf)
  2. Plato, Statesman, (Bb, Stephanus Nos. 292d – 293d and 296b – 297b, pp. 534 – 538 and 542 – 545, respectively at http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/768/Plato_0131-04_Ebk_v4.pdf)
  3. Grob, Leonard. 1984. “Leadership: The Socratic Model,” in Leadership: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Barbara Kellerman. New Jersey: Prentice Hall (Bb and also available in the University Library stacks).
Reading Questions:
  1. Why is Plato’s true captain or statesman ridiculed?
  2. Are you convinced that it is possible to know truth and the good of politics?
  3. According to Grob, how is a great leader (e.g., statesman) similar to a midwife?
§ First Article Critique Due

Please select one of the two articles listed below (found in Bb) and critique it based on the guidelines set forth in Scott and Garrison (pp. 208 – 211):

  • Liu, Baodong. 2006. “Whites as a Minority and the New Biracial Coalition in New Orleans and Memphis,” PS: Political Science and Politics, (January) pp. 69 – 76. (Bb, full-text via the University Library databases, or here http://www.apsanet.org/content_13020.cfm)
  • Conners, Joan L. 2007. “Popular Culture in Political Cartoons” (April) pp. 261 - 265 (Bb, full-text via the University Library databases, or here http://www.apsanet.org/content_38789.cfm)

Week 4 (OL); Weeks 7 – 8: Culture and its Influence upon Govt. and Politics

§ Reading Due:
§ Second Article Critique Due

Please critique the article “1776: A Christian Loyalist View” using the guidelines set forth in Scott and Garrison (pp. 208 – 211).

§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Statesmanship in a Democratic Culture I: The dilemma of equality and individualism

Democracy is often synonymous with equality and individualism. The hallmarks of American democracy have certainly been its commitment to a principle of equality and an unabashed individualistic culture. While both of these tenets seem to be distinct they are often interrelated. Equality assures that all human beings will be treated the same regardless of race, color, heritage, religion, etc. In essence, equality appears to guarantee that all human beings will be treated as individuals. Statesmanship runs counter to these principles since a statesman is certainly not equal to his or her peers and, therefore, is no mere individual part of a mass of individuals. Statesman rise to the top thus ensuring that a tension exists between equality, individualism, and statesmanship.

  1. Diamond, Martin. 1976. “The American Idea of Equality: The View from the Founding,” Review of Politics 38 (3): 313 – 331 (Bb also full-text via the University Library databases)
  2. “Chapter III: Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch03.htm)
  3. “Chapter I: Why Democratic Nations Show a More Ardent and Enduring Love of Equality than of Liberty,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_01.htm)
  4. “Chapter II: Of Individualism in Democratic Countries,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_02.htm)
Reading Questions:
  1. For Diamond, what is the essential difference between the Founders’ view of equality and contemporary views of equality?
  2. According to De Tocqueville, what were the social conditions of America that facilitated a love of equality?
  3. For De Tocqueville, what is the danger of individualism in democracies?
§ MIDTERM EXAM (OL via Bb; On Campus in class)

Week Five (OL); Weeks 9 – 10 (OC): Democracy

§ Reading Due:

A. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0058%3Abook%3D3%3Asection%3D1279a

B. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0058%3Abook%3D3%3Asection%3D1279b

C. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0058%3Abook%3D3%3Asection%3D1280a

D. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0058%3Abook%3D3%3Asection%3D1280b

E. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0058%3Abook%3D3%3Asection%3D1281a

§ First Op-Ed Due

Please write an op-ed piece in which you present your perspective on an issue of concern to the nation. Please read Scott and Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, pp. 216 – 218 and follow their suggestions closely as your op-ed will be graded based on the criteria Scott and Garrison suggest. The topics of each op-ed assignment are to be political or governmental in nature (e.g., democracy, nation-building, religion and politics, etc.) and are to be selected solely by the student.

§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Statesmanship in a Democratic Culture I: Popular sovereignty, mass culture, elitism, and self-interest

This unit confronts two traditional and strong critiques against statesmanship. First, statesmanship is elitist and thus undermines democracy and popular sovereignty. And, second, self-interest characterizes all politics and statesmen cannot rise above this base passion. Are these critiques legitimate?

  1. Churchill, Winston. 1925. “Mass Effects in Modern Life.” (Bb or http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?documentprint=1032)
  2. Strauss, Leo. 1959. “What is Liberal Education.” (Bb or http://www.ditext.com/strauss/liberal.html)
  3. Ruderman, Richard S. 1997. “Democracy and the Problem of Statesmanship,” Review of Politics 59 (4): 759 – 787 (Bb also full-text via the University Library databases)
  4. “Chapter IV: The Principle of the Sovereignty of the People of America,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch04.htm)
  5. “Chapter IX: How It Can Be Strictly Said that the People Govern in the United States,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch10.htm)
  6. “Chapter XIII: Government of the Democracy in the United States (America)” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch13.htm)
    1. Only read the following sections:
      1. “The Choice of the People, And the Instinctive…”
      2. “Corruption and the Vices of the Rulers in a…”
  7. “Chapter XV: Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States, and its Consequences,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch15.htm)
    1. Only read the following sections:
      1. “NATURAL STRENGTH of the majority in…”
      2. “Effects of the Tyranny of the Majority upon…”
Reading Questions:
  1. Both for Churchill and Strauss, what are the immoral characteristics of democratic mass society and how do these undermine statesmanship?
  2. For De Tocqueville, how does popular sovereignty and majoritarianism affect political rule and the possibility of great leadership?

Week Six (OL); Weeks 11 – 12 (OC): Political Philosophy

§ Reading Due:
§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Statesmanship Embodied I: George Washington

This unit considers one of the preeminent examples of statesmanship in American history – George Washington. Through an analysis of original sources, we consider Washington’s character, life, and decisions before, during, and after his term in office.

  1. “Chapter VIII: How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Principle of Self-Interest Rightly Understood,” in De Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America (e-text version: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_08.htm)
  2. Ray, John. 1997. “George Washington’s Pre-Presidential Statesmanship, 1783 – 1789,” Presidential Studies Quarterly (Spring) 27: 207 – 220.
  3. George Washington
    1. Letter to Lewis Nicola, 1782 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/lewis_nicola_read.html)
    2. Speech to the Officers at Newburgh, 1783 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/newburgh_read.html)
    3. First Inaugural Address, 1789 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/inaugural_address_read.html)
    4. Proclamation of National Thanksgiving, 1789 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/thanksgiving_read.html)
    5. Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, 1790 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/hebrew_congregation_read.html)
    6. Farewell Address, 1796 (Bb or http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/farewell_address_read.html)
Reading Questions:
  1. What examples can you provide to demonstrate that Washington embodies Hayward’s notion of political greatness?

Week 7 (OL); Weeks 13 – 14 (OC): Comparative Politics and International Relations

§ Reading Due:
§ Second Op-Ed Due

Please write an op-ed piece in which you present your perspective on an issue of concern to the nation. Please read Scott and Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, pp. 216 – 218 and follow their suggestions closely as your op-ed will be graded based on the criteria Scott and Garrison suggest. The topics of each op-ed assignment are to be political or governmental in nature (e.g., democracy, nation-building, religion and politics, etc.) and are to be selected solely by the student.

§ Statesmanship Special Unit: Statesmanship Embodied II: Abraham Lincoln

American historians consistently rank Abraham Lincoln is the greatest American president. In this unit, we consider Lincoln’s statesmanship through a series of letters and addresses to his peers and citizens during one of the most turbulent times in American history.

  1. Arnold, Isaac N. 1882. “Abraham Lincoln,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 10: 312 – 343 (Bb or full-text via the University Library databases)
  2. Danoff, Brian. 2005. “Lincoln and Tocqueville on Democratic Leadership and Self-Interest Properly Understood,” Review of Politics 67 (4): 687 – 719 (Bb or full-text via the University Library databases)
  3. Abraham Lincoln:
    1. Lyceum Address, 1838 (Bb or http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm)
    2. Letter to George Latham, 1860 (Bb or http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/latham.htm)
    3. Letter to Horace Greeley, 1862 (Bb or http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm)
    4. Letter to Erastus Corning and Others, 1863 (Bb or http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/corning.htm)
    5. Letter to James C. Conkling, 1863 (Bb or http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/conkling.htm)
Reading Questions:
  1. How does Lincoln illustrate the argument that it is possible to understand one’s self-interest properly and thus transcend a base type of self-interest? Please provide examples.

Week 8 (OL); Weeks 15 – 16 (OC): Statesmanship Embodied III: Churchill, Reagan, and International Relations

Is it possible to measure statesmanship or political greatness? Or is it something all of us recognize once we see it in action? This unit considers the question of identifying and even measuring statesmanship. It also considers statesmanship within the context of international relations and foreign affairs.

  1. Chapters 8 and 9 in Hayward, Steven F. 2005. Greatness: Reagan, Churchill and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders. Westminster, MD: Crown Publishing Group (E-Book in University Library)
  2. Wolfers, Arnold. 1949. “Statesmanship and Moral Choice,” World Politics, 1 (2): 175 – 195 (Bb or full-text via University Library databases)
Reading Questions:
  1. Is it possible to measure political greatness? Or is this a task left up to historians (once the statesman is dead)?
  2. Is it possible to be a statesman in foreign affairs when, as Wolfers seems to suggest, there is no universal moral code?
§ FINAL EXAMINATION

Writing Assignments, Discussion Board Post, And Examinations

There are a total of four writing assignments, twenty-one discussion board postings (only for OL course), pop / unannounced quizzes (only for OC course) and two examinations assigned for this course. The examinations may be a mix of multiple-choice, true and false, and fill-in-the-blank questions as well as essay questions. Examinations will assess a student’s completion and understanding of class readings, discussions/lectures, and Bb materials. All examinations will be facilitated through Bb within a specific date and time-frame (OL) or be held in class (OC).

The purpose of the four writing assignments is to engage students in the act of critical thinking, biblical integration and evaluation, critical review and evaluation; as well as educate them concerning the difference between scholarly / academic writing and popular writing.

Two of the writing assignments are article critiques in which the student must evaluate an academic journal article following the suggestions of Scott and Garrison in The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, pp. 208 – 211. The specific articles to be reviewed as well as due dates for the article critiques are stated above in the course schedule. Each article critique should be no more than two pages long.

The remaining two writing assignments are op-ed pieces in which the student must present his or her perspective on an issue of concern to the nation. Please read Scott and Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, pp. 216 – 218 and follow their suggestions closely. The topics of each op-ed assignment are to be political or governmental in nature (e.g., democracy, nation-building, religion and politics, etc.) and are to be selected solely by the student. The due dates for each op-ed assignment are stated above. Each op-ed written piece should be no more than 600 words.

Besides following the writing guidelines provided in the Scott and Garrison textbook, please ensure to implement the following for all of your writing assignments:

  1. Include a title page with all the relevant information;

  2. Only use size 12 font and double spacing;

  3. Ensure that all submissions are double-spaced and use 1” margins;

  4. Paginate every page (with the exception of the title page);

  5. Ensure that your paper is orthographically correct as well as evidences the utmost professionalism. This means that at the very minimum your paper should not contain non-felicitous language, colloquialisms, misspelled terms, slang terms. All submissions should be proofread several times to ensure excellence.

Online Courses Only: Each student is required to post one original post and two response posts per week of the course. The original post is to be a response/evaluation to questions or problems posted for each week of the course in the Bb group discussion board. The response posts are in response/evaluation of another student’s original and response posts. All posts should be submitted by the following deadlines for each week of the course:

  1. First original post: Every Wednesday by 11:59 PM (EST)

  2. First response post: Every Thursday by 11:59 PM (EST)

  3. Second response post: Every Thursday by 11:59 PM (EST)

Posts submitted after these stated deadlines will not be accepted and will earn a grade of zero (0).

On Campus Courses Only: There will be a number of pop / unannounced in class quizzes assessing reading assignments as well as previous class discussions. These quizzes can only be made-up on account of medically, legally, and/or University excused absences. There will be anywhere from 8 to 24 of these quizzes throughout the semester.

Method of Evaluation

The final grade for the course will reflect mastery of course content and quality of thought as expressed in:

  1. Unannounced / Pop Quizzes: 25% of your final grade.

    1. a. Grading for the dialogues will be based on the following criteria:
      1. Content: Do you deal with the topic thoroughly and accurately, showing that you have understood the material?
      2. Coherence: Does your presentation of the material make sense? Is your writing well organized? Each idea should lead on to the next as much as possible; you should avoid jumping around.
      3. Clarity: Are you as clear as possible? You should avoid imprecision, the use of rote formulas without understanding, unclear pronoun reference, etc. You should elaborate where necessary to explain your statements.
      4. Total number of posts (should be at least two per week for on-campus students and four per week for online students, unless otherwise specified)
      5. Word count for each post (should be 200-300 words)
      6. Timeliness (Note Deadlines)
  2. Article Critiques and Op-Eds (40% of your final grade)

    1. Grading the article critiques and op-eds will based on the following criteria:
      1. Content: Do you deal with the topic thoroughly and accurately, showing that you have understood the material?
      2. Coherence: Does your presentation of the material make sense? Is your writing well organized? Each idea should lead on to the next as much as possible; you should avoid jumping around.
      3. Clarity: Are you as clear as possible? You should avoid imprecision, the use of rote formulas without understanding, unclear pronoun reference, etc. You should elaborate where necessary to explain your statements.
      4. Timeliness (Note Deadlines)
      5. Writing Resources: In preparation for writing the article critiques and op-eds, please read carefully and follow the suggestions outlined in Scott and Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, pp. 208 – 211, 216 – 218, and 94 – 171. These chapters provide sound writing techniques and advice as well as critical thinking suggestions.
  3. Examinations (35% of your grade)

    1. There are two exams for this course- a midterm and a final with the final exam not being comprehensive. These will be posted online and each student will have a total of 2.5 hours to complete each exam. Each examination will be based on the readings and discussions covered in class as well as Bb material. Keep in mind, once again, the following criteria:
      1. Content: Do you deal with the topic thoroughly and accurately, showing that you have understood the material?
      2. Coherence: Does your presentation of the material make sense? Is your writing well organized? Each idea should lead on to the next as much as possible; you should avoid jumping around.
      3. Clarity: Are you as clear as possible? You should avoid imprecision, the use of rote formulas without understanding, unclear pronoun reference, etc. You should elaborate where necessary to explain your statements.