“Big Ideas” in Political Thought
Created for thoughtful high school students, this course explores the evolution of significant ideas about political systems and the status of the individual within them.
Students will study concepts such as sovereignty, citizenship, and rights, and start to think systematically about variations in the ways they have been enacted and contested over time.
Click here for writing and publication resources.
Week 15 – Roots of Conservatism (July 28)
- Edwards. “What is Conservatism?” The National Review. 10/22/2018. (PDF)
- Selections from Burke. “Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)”. The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol.III (of 12). Project Gutenberg.
- Read paragraphs (¶) 241-244; ¶332-352; ¶398-409; and ¶525-534
- Hitchens. “Reactionary Prophet“. The Atlantic. 4/2004. (PDF)
- [Rodden. The Urban Rural Divide. The Edge. 1/16/19.]
- ++In class: “Revolution or Reform? Burke vs. Paine on the French Revolution“(video). Britain in the Age of Revolutions. History Hub YouTube Channel.
- ++In class: “What Caused the French Revolution” (video). Tom Mullaney. TED-Ed.
- ++In class: Stephens. “Why Edmund Burke Still Matters.” NYTimes. 8/5/2020. (PDF)
Week 16 – Institutions (August 4)
- Helmke & Levitsky. Informal Institutions. Perspectives on Politics. Vol.2.4. 2004.
- How to Create an Institution that Lasts 10,000 Years. A Conversation with Alexander Rose. The Edge. [4.24.19]
- Elinor Ostrom – Prize Lecture. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach.
Week 17 – Social Movements (August 11)
Weeks 18 – Political Violence (August 18)
Week 19 (August 25)
Week 20 (Sept 1)
- What Is Sovereignty? (video). World101, How the World Works, and Sometimes Doesn’t. Council on Foreign Relations.
- Read Ch. 14.1- Power and Authority, and 14.2-Types of Political Systems. In Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World. Minneapolis: UMinn Libraries, 2016.
- Read Ch.1-The State and Sovereignty. in Harrison and Boyd. Understanding Political Ideas and Movements. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2018.
- Boissoneault. “When a Country is Not a Country.” The Morning News. 2/4/2015.
- ++In class. Excerpt from Ellickson. Order Without Law. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1991.
The Social Contract & Hobbes
- Velasquez et al. “The Common Good”. Markulla Center for Applied Ethics. Published in Issues in Ethics V5, N1. Spring 1992.
- Hobbes. Leviathan. Urbana, IL: Project Gutenberg, 2002.
- Dvorsky. “12 Futuristic Forms of Government That Could One Day Rule the World“. Gizmodo. 6/12/2014.
The Social Contract & Locke
- Read Chs.9, 10, and 19_sections 19.211-19.221. Locke. Second Treatise of Government. Urbana, IL: Project Gutenberg, 2005.
- Read p.8. Lim. Doing Comparative Politics: An Introduction to Approaches and Issues, 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010.
- Read Ch.1 and the introduction to Ch.8 (pp.129-135). Gaddis. The Landscape of History. New York: Oxford UP, 2002.
Tocqueville on Political Culture
- Selections from Tocqueville. Democracy in America. Vol.1. Urbana, IL: Project Gutenberg, 2006.
- More Tocqueville. Democracy in America, Vol.2.
- Part 1, Ch.1-2
- Philpott. “Sovereignty“. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Gilder Lehrman Institute. Manifest Destiny video.
The Political Community & Legitimacy
- Blakemore. “Why the United States Has Birthright Citizenship.” The History Channel, 2018.
- Callaghan. “Birthright Citizenship for Everyone Born on US Soil is the Law of the Land.” All About Ethics (blog), Markulla Center for Applied Ethics, 12/14/2018.
- Read pp. 441-445 in Douglass. “What, to the slave, is the fourth of July?” My Bondage and My Freedom. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 2015.
- Kleingeld & Brown. “Cosmopolitanism“. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Kwan. “Three Lenses in Immigration Ethics: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, & Democracy.” Immigration Ethics (blog), Markkula Center. 4/5/2021.
- Mounk. “America Is Not a Democracy.” The Atlantic. March 2018.
- Kwan. “Killed by the Police: The Illegitimacy of the United States…” Ethics Spotlight, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. 6/5/2020.
- Ideas for improving redistricting processes, via Loyola Law School
- Harrison & Boyd. Understanding Political Ideas and Movements. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2018.
- Read the chapter “Rights, Obligations, and Citizenship”.
- View. “Beyond the Textbook: Modern Civil Rights Movement.” TeachingHistory, n.d.
- Sanneh. “From Guns to Gay Marriage, How Did Rights Take Over Politics?” New Yorker. 5/31/2021. (PDF here)
- Berlin. Two Concepts of Liberty (excerpt). Available here. [Excerpts].
- Excerpts from Carter, “Positive and Negative Liberty“, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Schmitter & Karl. “What Democracy Is… and Is Not.” Journal of Democracy. Summer 1991.
- Millhiser. “America’s Democracy is Failing. Here’s Why.” Vox. 7/31/2020.
- Lieberman et al. “The Trump Presidency and American Democracy: A Historical and Comparative Analysis.” Perspectives on Politics. 17, no. 2, 2019.
- [SKIM ]. J. Lawrence Broz, et al. “Populism in Place: The Economic Geography of the Globalization Backlash.” International Organization. 75, Spring 2021.
Governance and Big Tech
- Zuboff. “Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization.” Journal of Information Technology. (2015) 30,75-89. PDF here.
- Posetti &Bontcheva. “Is Facebook a Failed State?” Foreign Policy. 5/10/2021. (Link here.)
- The Future is Another Country. The Economist. July 2010.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights. English translation via UN Dept. of Public Information, New York, NY.
- Nickel, “Human Rights“, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Ed.), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
- Nussbaum. Capabilities and Human Rights, 66 Fordham L. Rev. 273 (1997).
- Taylor. Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights. Presentation to Bangkok Workshop, 3/1996.