AP Comparative Government and Politics – College Board

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AP Comparative Government
and Politics
Syllabus 1                             Syllabus Number: 876048v1
Comparative government and politics is a critical field of study for young people.
The twenty-first century has taught us that we cannot ignore the world around
us. Happenings around the globe now directly impact our lives, and social studies
teachers and students around the country face the challenge of interpreting many
puzzling international events. The AP Comparative Government and Politics
course focuses on government and politics in other countries and provides a
theoretical framework to compare political systems around the world. It is my
hope that my students grasp something of the political complexities of our
global environment, and gain some understanding of both commonalities and            C13--The course
differences among modern political systems. [C13] In today's world, we cannot        teaches students to
                                                                                     compare and contrast
afford not to know.                                                                  political institutions
                                                                                     and processes across

Course Planner
                                                                                     countries and to derive
                                                                                     generalizations.

The course is taught for one full academic year, with Comparative Government
taught in the fall and United States Government in the spring semester. Only
about 18 weeks of instruction are available for the Comparative portion of the
course.


Textbooks
Mark Kesselman, et al. Introduction to Comparative Politics, 4th ed. Boston:
 Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
 This text takes a country studies approach and provides a comprehensive
 study of the political systems of the six main countries studied in the course,
 as well as several others.
Patrick O'Neil. Essentials of Comparative Politics. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
  This text takes a theoretical approach, and is used at the beginning of the
  course and at the beginning of each unit.
Reader                                                                               C16--The course
                                                                                     includes supplemental
                                                                                     readings, including
Christian Soe, ed. Annual Editions: Comparative Politics, 20042005 ed.              primary source materials
  McGraw-Hill Dushkin, 2005.                                                         and contemporary news
                                                                                     analyses, that strengthen
  This reader provides recent articles from magazines and newspapers about           student understanding of
                                                                                     the curriculum.
  both theory and specific countries.
Current articles are used throughout the course, most frequently from The
  Economist and the New York Times. [C16]




                                                                                                                 1
This comparative government and politics design takes a country-by-country
approach, but with a heavy emphasis on cross-country conceptual comparisons.
The curriculum in the first three weeks focuses on concepts and theory, and the         C13--The course
same theoretical framework is used to analyze each of the six countries. As the         teaches students to
                                                                                        compare and contrast
course progresses, students are required to constantly think back to countries          political institutions
studied previously, so that they come to understand each process, institution, and      and processes across
issue within the context of each country's political system, as well as comparatively   countries and to derive
                                                                                        generalizations.
in terms of other countries' political systems. [C13]

Weeks 13: Unit I: Introduction: Conceptual Introduction to
Comparative Government and Politics
    Sovereignty, Authority, and Power [C1]                                             C1--The course provides
                                                                                        instruction in introducing
    Political and Economic Change [C2]                                                 students to comparative
                                                                                        politics.

    Citizens, Society, and the State [C3]                                              C2--The course provides

    Political Institutions [C4]
                                                                                        instruction in the topics
                                                                                        of sovereignty, authority,
                                                                                        and power.

    Public Policy [C6]
                                                                                        C3--The course provides

    Nations, States, and Nation-States                                                 instruction in political
                                                                                        institutions.

The Comparative Method; Sources and Analysis of Data [C14]                              C4--The course provides
                                                                                        instruction in the topics
Readings:                                                                               of citizens, society, and
                                                                                        the state.
    CIA World Factbook (www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
      factbook/index.html). Look at the maps and data for each of our                   C6--The course provides
                                                                                        instruction in public
      countries.                                                                        policy.

    Kesselman, Chapter 1, "Introducing Comparative Politics"                           C14--The course
                                                                                        introduces students
    O'Neill, Chapter 10, "Globalization"                                               to the analysis and
                                                                                        interpretation of data
                                                                                        relevant to comparative
    Soe: Readings from Unit 5: Comparative Politics: Some Trends, Issues,              government and politics.
      and Prospects
                                                                                        C5--The course provides
                                                                                        instruction in political
       "The Global State of Democracy," Larry Diamond                                  and economic change.
       "Cultural Explanations: The Man in the Baghdad Caf"
       "Jihad vs. McWorld," Benjamin Barber
       "Women in National Parliaments," Inter-Parliamentary Union [C5]

Weeks 4 7: Unit II: Advanced Democracies: Britain [C8] and                             C8--The course uses
the European Union                                                                      concrete examples and
                                                                                        discusses contemporary
Reading:                                                                                political changes in
                                                                                        studying Great Britain.
    O'Neil, Chapter 7, "Advanced Democracies"


                                                                                                                     2
Government and Politics in Britain
Readings:

    Kesselman: Chapter 2, "Britain"
    Soe: From Unit 1: "Pluralist Democracies: Country Studies"
       "A Constitutional Revolution in Britain," Donley Studlar
The European Union
Readings:

    AP Comparative Government and Politics: A Study Guide, 2nd edition, by
      Ethel Wood, pp. 6974.

    Soe: From Unit 3, Part A: "The European Union"
       "When East Meets West," Robert Cotrell
    Updated reading from The Economist and the New York Times regarding
      the EU Constitution

Weeks 8-12: Unit III: "Communist and Post-Communist
Countries"
Reading:

    O'Neil, Chapter 8, "Communism and Post-Communism"
Government and Politics in Russia [C12]                                       C12--The course uses
                                                                              concrete examples and
Readings:                                                                     discusses contemporary
                                                                              political changes in
    Kesselman: Chapter 8, "Russia"                                           studying Russia.


    Soe: From Unit 3, Section D: "Democracy in Russia"
         "Ten Myths About Russia: Understanding and Dealing with Russia's
          Complexity and Ambiguity," David Foglesong and Gordon M. Hahn

Government and Politics in China [C7]                                         C7--The course uses
                                                                              concrete examples and
Readings:                                                                     discusses contemporary
                                                                              political changes in
    Kesselman: Chapter 13: "China"                                           studying China.


    Soe: Unit 4, Section D: "China"
       "China: the Quiet Revolution," Doug Guthrie




                                                                                                       3
Weeks 1318: Unit IV: Developing and Less-Developed
Countries
Reading:

    O'Neil, Chapter 9, "Less Developed and Newly Industrializing Countries"
Government and Politics in Mexico [C10]                                                                               C10--The course uses
                                                                                                                      concrete examples and
Readings:                                                                                                             discusses contemporary
                                                                                                                      political changes in
                                                                                                                      studying Mexico.
    Kesselman: Chapter 10
    Soe: "Mexico at an Impasse," M. Delal Baer
Government and Politics in Nigeria [C11]                                                                              C11--The course uses
                                                                                                                      concrete examples and
Readings:                                                                                                             discusses contemporary
                                                                                                                      political changes in
    Kesselman: Chapter 11                                                                                            studying Nigeria.


    Current articles on Nigerian issues
Government and Politics in Iran [C9]                                                                                  C9--The course uses
                                                                                                                      concrete examples and
Readings:                                                                                                             discusses contemporary
                                                                                                                      political changes in
    Kesselman: Chapter 12                                                                                            studying Iran.


    Current articles on conservative shifts within the Iranian government
        Nuclear issues

Teaching Strategies
The most commonly used strategy is lecture/discussion, with ample opportunity
for the latter. Because students generally don't have as much knowledge about
comparative politics as they do about politics in the United States, I assign several                                 C15--The course
short research projects throughout the semester to encourage student participa-                                       requires students to
                                                                                                                      write analytical and
tion. In the two days that follow the due date of papers, students discuss the issues                                 interpretive essays
that they researched, and classes are more interactive as a result. [C15]                                             frequently.



Student Evaluation
Students are evaluated in several ways:
 1) Two Multiple-choice tests...................................................................................20%

 2) Two Tests that focus on free-response questions: Concept definitions,
 conceptual free-response, and country-context free-response.........................20%

 3) Four short research papers assigned: one each on the European Union,
 Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria [C15]..............................................................................40%

 4) Written homework assignments: questions assigned on readings...............20%


                                                                                                                                               4
Teacher Resources
    1) The New York Times

    2) The Economist

    3) "Mrs. Wood's Classes": Website for student use and study
       http://athena.prs.k12.nj.us/users/ewood/

    4) Question Hour: Taped sessions of the British House of Commons, as
       aired on C-SPAN most Sunday evenings

    5) Ethel Wood. AP Comparative Government and Politics. 2nd ed. Reading,
       Pa: WoodYard Publications, 2005.


Research Papers
Specific Requirements for the European Union
For the paper on the European Union you may choose to write on how the EU has
changed economic conditions regionally and internationally or you may choose to
specialize on how a specific country has responded to the issues presented by the
evolving currency and trade policies. In either case you should attempt to draw
upon several sources with different perspectives. The paper should be between
two and three typed pages (double spaced) with an annotated bibliography of at
least four references. The paper and/or the annotated bibliography should include
a critique of each source in terms of credibility and bias.

Specific Requirements for the Last Three Countries
For each of the last three countries that we study--Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria--I       C15--The course
assign the students a brief research paper that they bring to class for the last two   requires students to
                                                                                       write analytical and
or three days that we discuss the country. [C15] The main purpose is to get the stu-   interpretive essays
dents involved in discussion so that they can contribute as "mini-experts" on some     frequently.
aspect of the country's major issues. There is some duplication of topics, but that
generally works well because students can interact with one another as they share
their research. The Iran assignment is included below; the Nigeria and Mexico
assignments are similar, with overlapping but different topics.

For each of the three remaining countries, you will research and write a brief paper
(a total of three papers) about one important issue that the respective governments
currently face. [C15] Each paper should address these three aspects of the issue:

    1) Explanation of why the situation may be defined as an "issue." Include
       here what is problematic, and the different points of view.

    2) Reactions that the government has had to the issue. This may be
       inaction, or may include specific policy remedies.

    3) Future prospects: What is the likelihood that the issue will be resolved?
       Explain your answer. Discuss how the situation both impacts and is
       impacted by world opinion. How have media and interest groups outside
       the country influenced the issue's resolution?


                                                                                                              5
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