POL-105: Introduction to Politics

      This course examines the world of politics. First, we encounter many of the basic concepts used by political scientists in understanding world events such as power, authority, and equality. Next we explore the institutions common to most governments, including legislatures, executives and courts.  Finally, we deal with topics such as political participation, parties and elections that help us understand how individuals can affect the political process.

      The objective of the course is to prepare students for lifelong political participation and observation. Students are encouraged during the semester to follow real-world political events through regular reading of daily newspapers. Evaluation is based on a variety of short writing assignments, three tests, and class participation.

      Coe's Political Science Department offers one or more sections of Introduction to Politics each semester, taught by various professors including me. The course is required for the Political Science major or minor. It counts in the Non-Western Perspectives category to satisfy General Education requirements and may also be counted as one of the social science classes to satisfy General Education requirements.

Introduction to Politics Links

News of the World
World news from the British Broadcasting Corporation
News from Britain: The Daily Telegraph
Public television's "Foreign Exchange" program, hosted by Fareed Zakaria: Scandalously, this show does not air in Iowa, but it may be viewed online
British Parliament home page (includes videos of question time)
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers expert commentary on international relations issues
Stewart Memorial Library has sources of uniformly high quality
Yahoo has sources of widely varying quality
Headlines from NBC News, with links to Newsweek magazine

Country Information Studies

The U.S. State Department's home page and 2004 country-by-country Human Rights Report
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, with profiles of each country
Another very usable set of country profiles from the British Broadcasting Corporation
More country briefings from the Economist
Brief statistical sketches of each country from Encyclopedia Brittanica
A comprehensive human rights site from Amnesty International
Federations: a Canadian e-journal focusing on governments of that form
Africa country pages from University of Pennsylvania
Asia news and country pages from Australian National University
Canadian politics from Thomson Nelson Publishing
Latin America country pages from the University of Texas
Various international politics resources from Keele University (UK): a very good starting place for research on the EU or countries in Europe
The Lijphart Elections Archive: detailed results from 26 democratic countries
More on elections:  ElectionWorld on Wikipedia (NOTE: Wikipedia is big, seductively easy to use, and NOT entirely reliable... but these data are imported from elsewhere and OK to use)
Rulers lists heads of state, heads of government and de facto rulers for each country back into the mists of time
Lots of maps including the one above

Journals and Reference

Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations: includes some full-text articles and indexes for issues back to 1988
Political Science Quarterly, published by the Academy of Political Science: includes some full-text articles and indexes for issues back to 1976
Guide to history sources
Guide to MLA-style citation...including how to cite web sources!

Course Outline: Spring 2006 (Instructor: B. Nesmith)


    Rod Hague and Martin Harrop, Political Science: A Comparative Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 4th ed, 2004)
    Michael K. LeRoy, Comparative Politics: An Introduction Using ExplorIt (Thomson-Wadsworth, 3rd ed, 2005)


Political concepts: HH 1
The global context of politics: HH 2
Political power and state capacity: LeRoy 2
What determines wealth and poverty?: LeRoy 10
Democratic states: HH 3
Authoritarian states: HH 4
Post-Communist states: LeRoy 8
Democratic transition in post-Communist states: LeRoy 9

Constitutions and the judiciary: HH 12
National-local relations: HH 13
Legislatures: HH 14
Executives: HH 15
Bureaucracy: HH 16
Policy making: HH 17

Political culture:  HH 6
Democratic political culture: LeRoy 4
Political culture in Nigeria and South Africa: LeRoy 14
Political communication: HH 7
Political participation: HH 8
Democratic political participation: LeRoy 5
Voting and elections: HH 9
Democratic electoral systems: LeRoy 6
Interest groups and social movements: HH 10
Political parties: HH 11
Parties in Europe: LeRoy 7

Last modified: 1/4/10

Next Course: American National Government and Politics

Back to My Home Page