Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-313
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Pavel Machala (Section 01)
Hegel once remarked that "To read the newspaper is the modern man's morning-prayer." What may be captured in this seemingly obvious observation is a proposition that political understanding of current events is difficult to sustain without daily reading of a newspaper; that reading itself is a dynamic activity, involving interpretation; that all interpretation is, in effect, translation because in any act of reading, the reader inevitably forms a judgment as to what the text is saying. A century and a half later, Paul Sweezy wrote [E]veryone knows that the present will someday be history…[and believes] that the most important task of the social scientist is to try to comprehend it as history now, while it is still the present and while we still have the power to influence its shape and outcome.”
In the spirit of these observations, this seminar has a three-fold aim: (1) to introduce the habit of reading a newspaper daily; (2) to encourage an in-depth reading of current political events in the U.S. and around the world from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing upon the theoretical and methodological tools which students have encountered in their college courses across many social science disciplines; and (3) to help students recognize the multitude of fascinating researchable social science topics imbedded in an active reading of the daily press. This groundwork will enable class participants to develop and formulate viable research designs, make normative and causal arguments as well as address rival hypotheses in a research paper which will be due at the end of the semester.
The specific newspapers may vary from year to year. In 2017-18 students read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a newspaper of their choice, selected from a list of newspapers in English from around the world.
Requisite: The seminar is open to qualified second-semester sophomores and juniors who have taken at least six social science courses in college, including two in POSC (one a 200 level or above), and at least four additional courses from at minimum two other social science departments. Participants should seriously anticipate writing a thesis during their senior year.
Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Machala.
How to handle overenrollment: Each student has to receive permission to register from the instructor.
Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Written work, independent research, oral presentations.
If Overenrolled: Each student has to receive permission to register from the instructor.