The AP Comparative Government and Politics course is a traditional college level introduction to the comparative study of state systems and their political components, and many of its topics speak to contemporary global political issues such as globalization, democratization, political change, public policy, and citizen-state relations. The primary goal of the course is to increase your understanding of the political traditions, values, and structures of comparative systems. The work involved concerns the study of political science theory and methodology, and its application to the analysis of specific countries as illustrations of specific concepts and themes. The six country models are Great Britain, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria.
This course will offer you an opportunity for exciting conversations and debate about the compelling political and economic issues facing our world. It will offer the challenge to be more adept at thinking conceptually and to be more analytical -- precisely the skills that are most highly valued in college courses.
Throughout the course, you are expected to become more aware of the interconnections between citizens and state policy. You will learn to measure a nation's polity through its politics and processes as well as its institutions and public policy, and you will be able to form educated judgments on issues and group politics based on the knowledge you have gained. Simulations, discussions, and debates will also be used to aid in developing your appreciation for the multifaceted problems involved in governing a state. Overall, it is hoped that this course will give you a critical perspective on the inner workings of different systems of government.
In preparation for the AP examination, this course will be divided into three parts: basic political philosophy and contemporary regime types; cultural propensities and comparative analysis; and individual country studies which will provide concrete examples of different processes and institutions. The third and final section--which will span roughly half the course--focuses on the core countries of Great Britain, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria.
Because of the vast scope of material to be covered within a specific time period, this course will be run in a seminar fashion: YOU will be responsible for reading assignments, research projects, formal presentations, current events, and group discussions. The course work will be divided into two- to three-week units. There will be two lecture sessions per week, with project assignments due or supplementary readings discussed in the remaining sessions. You will receive general reading and writing schedules at the beginning of each trimester. You are expected to have completed all reading assignments before they are discussed in class in order to focus more fully on the lectures and seminar sessions.
Due to the nature of comparative politics, it is extremely important to keep yourself up-to-date on the political issues in the nations you will be studying. It is essential to watch BBC, CNN, CSPAN or other major newscasts, and to read the newspaper on a daily basis--particularly The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. It will also be a course requirement to familiarize yourself with any and all articles concerning the core countries which can be found in The Economist magazine every week.
-Students in AP Comparative Government will be graded on the basis of in-class quizzes, multiple choice tests, essay tests, discussion board assignments, and trimester examinations.
I. BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD ASSIGNMENTS
As part of the AP Comparative Government class, students will be watching films in class as well as being assigned to review shows on television such aa the British House of Commons' Question Time on CSPAN. After reading the commentary on the show by the instructor as well as supplemental readings posted online, students will be required to post relevant responses to questions posed on a blackboard discussion board within the established deadline (usually one week). These discussion boards are designed to provoke educational and informative discussion and debate for quiz points utilizing the blackboard system.
It is NOT necessary to actually see any film or show before posting on the discussion board.
Students should read the summary and assigned supplemental readings--as well as other students' postings--in order to post a relevant response.
Each posting counts as one half of a quiz grade--a relevant post receives 5 points, no post or an offensive or off-topic posting gets a zero. There is absolutely no excuse not to post on blackboard by the assigned deadline; these assignments are posted and open for over a week before the deadline closes the board.
Approximately once every other week the class will be given a quiz concerning points brought up in lectures, reading assignments, or current events. EVERY video shown will be the subject of a quiz covering the basic themes and topics of the film. Quizzes will be anywhere from 6 to 12 possible points and will usually be in multiple choice format.
There are NO makeup quizzes; a missed quiz is NOT counted for the purposes of the trimester average.
The total quiz average for the trimester will count as ONE test.
There will be one test per unit as listed in the schedule. These tests will be given approximately every three weeks. Each Unit Test will consist of an essay and a multiple choice section, and will take approximate two class periods to complete. The class will spend a day going over the multiple choice section before taking the essay section the following day. If you are absent (excused) on a scheduled Unit Test day you will be expected to make up that test BEFORE the next Unit Test is given. It is YOUR responsibility to make the test up by the deadline. If you are unexcused absent or do not make the test up by the deadline, the missed test will count as a zero.
If you feel unprepared for the test for any reason, you may choose not to take the test on the scheduled day. However, if you choose not to take the test on the scheduled day, you will be responsible for making up the test before the next test is given. Because it was your choice to delay taking the scheduled test in order to give yourself more time to prepare, the makeup will necessarily be more challenging and cover more material. It is YOUR choice not to take a test on the scheduled day.
Multiple choice tests will be counted out of 100 possible points based on the percentage you get correct out of 45 questions; Essay tests will also be counted out of 100 possible points based on a 0 to 5 scoring rubric.
There will be approximately THREE Unit Tests per Trimester.
IV. FINAL EXAM
Yes. Unless otherwise instructed by the administration or your teacher, there WILL be a final examination in this course.
The final examination will be 70 multiple choice questions taken in 70 minutes and will counted out of 100 possible points.
V. OPTIONAL POINTS
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXTRA CREDIT IN THIS COURSE! Optional points will be given for attendance at both Political and Business Forums put on by the Institute for Civic Involvement. Thoughtful reflections on your part will be handed in to the sponsor at the end of every forum and will then be given to me. In order to receive any credit for attendance, your form MUST be filled out, handed in, and sent to me.
Forum attendance will receive 1 out of 1 possible points to a maximum total of 10 points.
Students' grades will be determined by taking the points a student has scored and dividing them by the total possible for that student. The resulting percentage will be the student's 6-week and trimester average.
All students will be required to read The Economist (London: The Economist Newspaper) on a weekly basis. This periodical is available in the ICI library.