“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 study concepts such as sovereignty, citizenship, and rights, and the ways they have been enacted and contested over time. Read on for an abbreviated version of the syllabus.
- What Is Sovereignty? (video). How the World Works, and Sometimes Doesn’t. Council on Foreign Relations.
- Ch.1-The State & Sovereignty. Harrison & Boyd. Understanding Political Ideas & Movements. 2018.
- Ch.14.1-Power & Authority and Ch.14.2-Types of Political Systems. Sociology: Understanding & Changing the Social World. 2016.
- Boissoneault. “When a Country is Not a Country.” Morning News. 2/4/2015.
Hobbes & The Social Contract
- Excerpts from Hobbes. Leviathan. Project Gutenberg. 2002.
- Velasquez et al. “The Common Good”. Markulla Center. 1992.
- Dvorsky. “12 Futuristic Forms of Government That Could One Day Rule the World“. Gizmodo. 6/12/2014.
Locke & the Social Contract
- Excerpts from Locke. Second Treatise of Government. Project Gutenberg. 2005.
- Lim. Doing Comparative Politics. 2010. Read p.8.
- Ch.1, and the intro to Ch.8. Gaddis. The Landscape of History. 2002.
Tocqueville on Political Culture
- Excerpts from Tocqueville. Democracy in America. Vol.1. Project Gutenberg. 2006.
- “Manifest Destiny” (video). Gilder Lehrman Institute. n.d.
- Blakemore. “Why the US Has Birthright Citizenship.” History Channel. 2018.
- Douglass. “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” My Bondage & My Freedom. 2015. Read pp. 441-445.
- Kleingeld & Brown. “Cosmopolitanism“. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Kwan. “Three Lenses in Immigration Ethics.” Markkula Center. 4/5/2021.
Civil Rights & Human Rights
- Ch.6, Rights, Obligations & Citizenship. Harrison & Boyd. Understanding Political Ideas & Movements. 2018.
- View. “Beyond the Textbook: Modern Civil Rights Movement.” Teaching History. n.d.
- Sanneh. “From Guns to Gay Marriage, How Did Rights Take Over Politics?” New Yorker. 5/31/2021. (PDF here)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UN Dept. of Public Information.
- Nickel. “Human Rights“. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- March & Olsen. “Elaborating the ‘New Institutionalism’“. Oxford Handbook of Polit. Sci. 2011.
- Bowles & Gintis. “The Evolutionary Basis of Collective Action.” Oxford Handbook of Polit. Sci. 2011.
- Helmke & Levitsky. “Informal Institutions.” Perspectives on Politics. 2004. Read pp.725-728.
Roots of Conservatism
- Excerpts from Burke. “Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)”. Project Gutenberg.
- Edwards. “What is Conservatism?” National Review. 10/22/2018. (PDF here)
- Stephens. “Why Edmund Burke Still Matters.” NY Times. 8/5/2020. (PDF here)
- Mullaney. “What Caused the French Revolution” (video). TED-Ed. n.d.
- Schmitter & Karl. “What Democracy Is… and Is Not.” J. of Democracy. 1991.
- Millhiser. “America’s Democracy is Failing. Here’s Why.” Vox. 7/31/2020.
- Lieberman et al. “The Trump Presidency & American Democracy.” Perspectives on Politics. 2019.
- Excerpts from Broz et al. “Populism in Place.” International Organization. 2021.
Governing & Big Tech
- Zuboff. “Big Other.” J. of Information Technology. 2015. (PDF here)
- Posetti & Bontcheva. “Is Facebook a Failed State?” Foreign Policy. 5/10/2021. (Link here)
- A graph of monthly Facebook users over time.
- Taylor. “If Social Networks were Countries…” (bar graph). World Economic Forum. 4/28/2016.
Pandemics & Politics
- Oliver. “The Politics of Public Health Policy.” Ann.Rev. of Public Health. 2006. Read pp.195-197.
- Huremović. “Chapter 2: Brief History of Pandemics“. Psychiatry of Pandemics. 2019.
- Kolata. “How Pandemics End.” NY Times. 5/10/20.
- “One Woman’s Mission to Get Vaccines to Her Rural Alabama Town” (video). New Yorker. 8/11/2021
- Kaplan. “America’s Failure in Afghanistan Started 20 Years Ago“. Slate. 8/16/21.
- Crocker. “Why Biden’s Lack of Strategic Patience Led to Disaster.” NY Times. 8/21/21. (PDF here).
- Applebaum. “The Facts Just Aren’t Getting Through.” Atlantic. 8/9/2020.
- Zuckerman. “QAnon and the Emergence of the Unreal.” J. of Design & Science. 7/15/19.