Power and Politics                                   Professor Sid Olufs

POLS 288                                                Xavier 153,  x-8727, olufs@plu.edu

Fall 2014, TR 9:55, X-250                        Office Hours:  T 1-3:30, W 10-12, Th 12-1:30

News Links                                              http://community.plu.edu/~olufsdw/288.htm

This course examines how we see and make sense of political power. 

One purpose of the class is to introduce you to the reading material, which includes many canonical ideas.   There are some things college graduates should know, both for content and for making competent criticisms of the content.  The ideas in this course have had, and continue to have, consequences for human affairs.

Another purpose of the class, as important as the first, is to develop several skills.  College graduates should have highly developed skills in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking critically and logically.  These require practice.  Activities and exercises are aimed at working on these skills.  The in-class activities require that you attend all classes and arrive with notes from your readings of material assigned for the day. 


Course Readings are drawn from many sources, and are available through Sakai.  They include some classic texts, such as John Locke's Second Treatise of Government and Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince, articles from professional journals, newspapers and magazines, studies conducted by governmental organizations and think tanks.  We will also view some movies and other popular culture depictions of power. 


Coursework includes several elements.

      Everyone will write a paper on a question to be announced in class. The paper will be from 5 to 7 typical double-spaced pages in length and address themes or concepts found in several authors. Several versions of the paper will be submitted as we attend to different steps of the writing process. (20% of course total)

      Everyone will work with peers on a group project analyzing power relationships.  The projects will product a written report and a class presentation in which the group leads a discussion of their findings.  (20%)

      Everyone will participate in class exercises and activities.  You may be assigned to lead a class discussion of a text; you might be assigned to participate in speed debates (as part of a group); and other activities.  (40%)

      Mid-Term Essay.  (10%)

      Final Essay.  (10%)


Assignents, course bibliography and other information is available on the course website.  The assignments for each week will be posted on the assignments page. 





Sept. 9--Unit One: Power, an Introduction.

Sept. 11--U1 continued. 

Sept. 16-- U1 continued.

Sept. 18--Unit Two: Political Philosophy and Power.  Locke and Machiavelli.

Sept. 23--U2 continued.

Sept. 25--U2 continued. 

Sept. 30-- Unit Three:  Political Power in the USA.  

Oct. 2--U3 continued.

Oct. 7-- U3 continued. Organize Groups for Group Projects.   Also, Declare Policy Paper Topic in Class. 

Oct. 9-- U3 continued.

Oct. 14-- U3 continued.   Workshop on Policy Paper Approach. 

Oct. 16-- Unit Four:  The Color Line.  Workshop on approaches to the study of power. 

Oct. 21--U4 continued.   Declare Focus of Group Projects.    Also, Bring description and outline for workshop on policy papers.

Oct. 23--Midterm Examination.

Oct. 28-- Unit Five:  Equality.

Oct. 30--U5 continued.  Workshop on how to study power  (main focus on group projects) 

Nov. 4--U5 continued.  (Election Day)  Electronic Draft of Policy Paper Due. 

Nov. 6-- Unit Six:  International Power.

Nov. 11--U6 continued.  (Shortened class due to Veterans Day, 9:55-10:55) 

Nov. 13-- U6 continued. 

Nov. 18-- U6 continued.   Policy Papers. 

Nov. 20--Unit Seven:  Finance. 

Nov. 25--  Paper Consulting Day

Nov. 27-- Thanksgiving Holiday

Dec. 2--U7 continued. 

Dec. 4--Unit Eight: Power and Humor.  Written Group Report Due. 

Dec. 9--U8 continued:

Dec. 11-- U8 continued:


Final Examination Period:  Tuesday, December 16, 8-9:50 a.m. 


Copyright Sid Olufs, 2014, All Rights Reserved.