Political Science | Analyzing Politics
Y205 | 12731 | Morris MacLean


This course is designed to be an introduction to the tools and
skills necessary to analyze politics. The skills discussed and
practiced would be valuable to anyone considering a major in
political science (or other social science disciplines), future
profession in law, business, policy research, or community advocacy
to name a few possibilities. It is equally designed for those
students who may not have decided their future directions but are
interested in being critical consumers of the news media, political
advertising, and other sources of political information.  We will be
discussing such issues as:  what is the nature of a hypothesis; how
to understand causation; the role of comparison in political
analysis; how to understand, interpret, and collect political
information through polls and surveys, focus groups, in-depth
interviews, ethnographic observation, and experimental research;
and, how to interpret and present information presented in charts,
graphs, tables, and visual maps.  In order to learn about sometimes
abstract concepts and skills, we will focus on a variety of “hot”
policy issues and debates. Some of the topics will include: the role
of race in the response to Hurricane Katrina; the plight of the
uninsured in America; the trend toward college-educated women
leaving the work world to raise their children; and, how NASA knew
but did not recognize the problems with the space shuttle before it
crashed. The course will involve regular in-class participation by
students in small and large-group discussions as well as in-class
activities where we “practice what we preach.” The requirements will
thus include: active attendance and participation; three short (5-7
page) take-home research design, data collection and/or data
analysis assignments; and, a mid-term and final exam.