PLSC 100 Introduction to Political Science

This course introduces the field of political science through a comparative, international survey of the major issues, questions, and ideas of politics. The class provides an overview of the discipline and its subfields. Key concepts and topics include:

  • order
  • power
  • the state and the nation
  • political change
  • resistance
  • violence
  • human rights
  • ideologies of
    • liberalism
    • conservatism
    • nationalism
    • feminism
    • environmentalism
  • the organization of major political systems
  • institutions of governance, including
    • executives
    • legislatures
    • courts
  • the international dimensions of politics and economics

These themes provide frameworks to both interpret current events and describe domestic and international political systems.

Parallel goals of this course include developing effective research, analysis, critical thinking, and writing skills. The class also aims to foster a global understanding of cultural diversity and difference. Together, these objectives help form the basis for future coursework in and out of the discipline and should help students make informed judgments about the political world around them.


The following book is available in the History and Political Science Department (Founders Hall 114): (Unfortunately, coronavirus restrictions make this impossible.)

Please purchase our textbook from the vendor of your choice:

  • Ellen Grigsby, Analyzing Politics: An Introduction to Political Science, Cengage Advantage Books, 5th edition

In addition, the following text must be purchased. (I have provided the link, but you should feel free to purchase from your preferred vendor.)

Additional readings can be found on Blackboard, as noted below in the schedule of course meetings and readings.

Students are also required to follow a source for current events, such as BBC World News, NPR News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, or The Economist. The University maintains a subscription for all students to the New York Times. Access yours here:

Texts must be brought to class on the day they will be discussed.  Students will be considered absent if they do not bring the reading to class on the day it is discussed.


Class meetings will be grounded in discussion of the assigned texts. Readings must be completed before the class meeting in which they will be discussed. This enables students to get the most out of the lectures and to participate effectively in discussion.

Discussion: Each student will be assigned study questions to prepare for class discussion.  During these discussions, you will not be expected to have fully developed points of view about the course materials. However, you are expected to participate. No one will be penalized for being wrong or imprecise, for expressing uncertainty or frustration, or for changing their mind. But it should be clear that you are trying, that you have done the readings and are working toward a mastery of the material.

Questions: None of us, myself included, knows everything about the topics of this class. It is our responsibility to ask others who may know the answer, either in class, in office hours, or over dinner. I expect that you are learning the material, not that you know it. As much as possible, try not to be shy or embarrassed about what you don’t yet know. The biggest failure in learning any material, in college or in life, is to fail to ask questions about things you do not know.

Availability: I expect that all of you, either alone or in groups, will contact me throughout the semester. I am almost always available to discuss the course material, or other life issues. Because I maintain an “open-door” policy, you should not hesitate to stop by my office during office hours–or at other times. If you would prefer to schedule a time during non-office hours, simply contact me by phone or email and we will schedule an appropriate time.

Course Conduct: In order to build and maintain a supportive and productive learning community, students and instructors must treat one another with respect.

For students, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Being prepared to discuss the assigned readings each day;
  • Regular attendance;
  • Notifying the instructor of any scheduling conflicts;
  • On-time arrival to class;
  • Minimizing trips in and out of the room during class;
  • Minimizing side-conversations;
  • Refraining from use of cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Neither laptops nor tablets may be used in class.  Cell phones must be turned off AND put away during class meetings.  Students who use laptops, tablets, or cell phones will be considered absent.

Failure to adhere to these expectations – especially if students are disrupting others’ learning or creating an unwelcoming environment – will result in disciplinary measures. For more on University policies on appropriate classroom conduct, see the “Rights and Responsibilities” section of the University of La Verne Catalog.

For instructors, responsibility for building and maintaining a supportive and productive learning community includes but is not limited to:

  • Being accessible to students;
  • Communicating clear expectations for student success;
  • Addressing students respectfully, including use of preferred names and pronouns; 
  • Returning graded work in a timely fashion;
  • Creating a open exchange of ideas to which all students are encouraged to contribute;
  • Facilitating the interrogation and critical analysis of ideas, including interrogation of the instructor’s views, biases, and values.

Students are encouraged to report violations of University policy, including sexual misconduct and social justice incidents here:


The value of our meetings will hinge on your advance preparation and on your willingness to engage the issues actively in class. When you are doing the readings, keep in mind that you will be expected to participate in the debates outlined in the readings, reject some positions, embrace others, and defend the choices you make.

Grades will be based on the following:

  • Study questions and quizzes: 50%
  • Midterm: 15%
  • Final exam: 25%
  • Attendance and participation: 10%

Study Questions: Once Two to three times a week, students must hand in  upload responses to assigned study questions.  These responses should be between 250 and 500 words in length. You should write down the question you are answering as well as your answer to the question. Question sets will be assigned on the first day of class.

Quizzes: Quizzes will be given at the end of each class session.  (Each class meeting has two sessions.) I will write one or two questions on the board. These questions will be on the course material and on the relationship between the course material and current events.

Midterm: The midterm will ask you to answer a series of short-answer questions based on the course materials and lectures.  

Final Exam: The final exam will be in two parts. The first part will be identical to the midterm but will only include questions on course materials addressed after the midterm. (Questions drawn from the midterm review may appear on the final exam.) The second part will ask you to construct a research proposal based on the theme of power: how it is deployed and organized, how it produces inequities, and how those inequities might be addressed.

Participation: Attendance and punctuality are basic requirements for an effective discussion. Beyond that, each student’s frequency and quality of contribution to the class discussion will be assessed and reflected in the class participation score. Students who miss more than four two classes will automatically suffer a deduction of one-third of a grade (e.g. a B+ becomes a B). Students who miss more than seven three classes will suffer a full grade deduction (e.g. a B+ becomes a C+). Students who are in class but do not have the assigned reading will be considered absent. Multiple instances of tardiness will also result in a deduction of one-third of a grade.

Disability Accommodations: If you need disability accommodations for an exam or other assignment, please see the instructor as soon as possible. Information regarding disabilities, including learning disabilities, will remain confidential. If you are not sure whether you need special accommodations, please contact the Accessibility Services Department. Information about location and contact numbers can be found here:

Late Assignments: Late assignments may be submitted for partial credit, but no assignments will be accepted after the last day of finals week.


Jan. 4

  • Introduction
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 1
      • What is politics?________________________
      • What is political science?________________________
      • What role to change, resources, and the common life have in politics?_______________________________
      • What distinguishes a democratic from an authoritarian political system?__________________________
      • What was Mayor Giuliani’s position on displaying Renee Cox’s work?  What are the arguments for and against this position?___ _____
      • How are art, love and emotion political?____________________

Jan. 5

  • Political Science and Scientific Methods in Studying Politics
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 2
      • Questions 1, 2_________AaronA, CarsonB, EthanB______
      • Questions 3, 4, 5_______CailinB, AlondraC_________
      • Questions 6, 7, 8_______ArianaC, MelanieD___________
  • Key Concepts in Political Science
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 3
      • Questions 1, 2______JesusE, VictorG. ________
      • Questions 3, 4, 5____JackieK, AraceliM, ___________
      • Questions 6, 7, 8____SarahM, ErikP, AniyahP___________
      • Questions 9, 10, 11____CarlosR, JenniferR, ArielS____________

Jan. 6

  • Political Theory: Examining the Ethical Foundations of Politics
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 4
      • Questions 1, 2, 3___DanielleT, GageU, MiaV_____________
      • Questions 4, 5, 6___KatieW, JalenW, MichaelD_________________
      • Questions 7, 8, 9___LilyS, AmberC________________
      • Questions 10, 11___BrianaJ, DanielM____________________

Jan. 7

  • Political Ideologies I: Liberalism, Conservatism, and Socialism
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 5
      • Questions 1, 2, 3____AaronA, JalenW____________
      • Questions 4, 5, 6__ CarsonB, KatieW_______________
      • Questions 7, 8, 9___EthanB, MiaV________________
  • Political Ideologies II: Fascism
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 6
      • Questions 1, 2, 3___CailinB, GageU_______
      • Questions 4, 5, 6___AlondraC, DanielleT________
      • Questions 7, 8___AmberC, LilyS______
      • Questions 9, 10___ArianaC, ArielS_________

Jan. 11

  • Political Ideologies III: Feminism, Environmentalism, and Postmodernism
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 7
      • Questions 1, 2___MelanieD, JenniferR_____
      • Questions 3, 4, 5__JesusE, CarlosR, MichaelD_____
      • Questions 6, 7___VictorG, AniyahP____
  • Comparative Politics I: Governmental Systems: Democracy and Nondemocracy
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 8
      • Questions 1, 2, 3____BrianaJ, ErikP_____
      • Questions 4, 5, 6____JackieK, SarahM____
      • Questions 7, 8____AraceliM, DanielM_____

Jan. 12

  • Comparative Politics II: Governing Democracies: Executives, Legislatures, and Judiciaries
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 9, pp. 191-209
      • Questions 1, 2___AaronA, AlondraC, ArielS_____
      • Questions 3, 4___JesusE,  JalenW, CailinB_______
      • Questions 5, 6, 7___AniyahP, GageU, MichaelD_____
  • Comparative Politics II (cont’d): Governing Democracies: Executives, Legislatures, and Judiciaries
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 9, pp. 209-225
      • Questions 8, 9___CarsonB, AmberC, AraceliM,____
      • Questions 10, 11__VictorG, DanielM, JackieK___

Jan. 13

  • Comparative Politics III: Governing Democracies: Executives, Legislatures, and Judiciaries
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 10
      • Questions 1, 2, 3____JenniferR, MiaV, ErikP_
      • Questions 4, 5, 6____EthanB, ArianaC, DanielleT_
      • Questions 7, 8____BrianaJ, SarahM____
  • International Relations I: Introduction
    • Reading: Grigsby, ch. 11
      • Questions 1, 2___CarsonB, MiaV__
      • Questions 3, 4___AaronA, GageU_
      • Questions 5, 6___EthanB, JalenW_
      • Questions 7, 8___CailinB, DanielleT_

Jan. 14

  • International Relations II: Contemporary Issues
    • Grigsby, ch. 12
      • Questions 1, 2___AlondraC, ArielS_____
      • Questions 3, 4___AmberC, JenniferR__
      • Questions 5, 6___ArianaC, AniyahP___


Jan. 18  MLK Day (NO CLASS)

Jan. 19

  • Readings in Political Ideology, Comparative Politics, and American Government
    • Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism, 1-41
      • MichaelD, ErikP
        • What is populism?
        • Is populism a left-wing or right-wing phenomenon? Name a populist on the left and one on the right. What makes each one of them populists?
      • JesusE, SarahM
        • What is pluralism? What is the relationship between populism and pluralism?
        • What is identity politics? How does it relate populism?
        • What is the relationship between populism and democracy?
      • VictorG, DanielM
        • What is the relationship between populism and liberalism?
        • Why, according to Müller, is it wrong to understand populism as an expression of anger or frustration or resentment?
        • What is the relationship between the populist leader and the people?
      • BrianaJ, JackieK, AraceliM
        • What is the “core claim” (p. 21) of populism?
        • What is producerism?
        • How do populist leaders characterize the institutions of democracy, such as elections, courts, separation of powers, parties, etc?
        • Explain the concept of direct representation.  
  • Readings in Political Ideology, Comparative Politics, and American Government
    • Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism, 41-103
      • JesusE, BrianaJ
        • How do populists use conflict?
        • Describe the populist’s strategies of occupying or colonizing the state, mass clientelism, and discriminatory legalism.
        • What is illiberal democracy? Does populism in power equal illiberal democracy?
      • AraceliM, SarahM
        • Why is Müller opposed to applying the concept of “illiberal democracy” to populists?
        • What is the relationship between populism and constitutionalism? Give one historical example to illustrate your answer.
        • When, if ever, is it possible to speak in the name of the people as a whole?
      • AniyahP, ArielS, GageU
        • How does populism “solve” the broken promise of democracy?
        • How should defenders of liberal democracy respond to populists?
        • Who were the American Populists of the 19th century? What policies did they advocate?
      • JalenW, CarsonB, CailinB
        • Name some instances of populism in 20th-century America.
        • What is technocracy? What is its relationship to populism?
Jan. 20
  • Readings in Comparative Politics and American Government
    • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (Blackboard, 1-52)
      • AmberC, MichaelD, VictorG
        • Why did Ziblatt and Levitsky believe the US was immune to democratic decline?
        • How did Hugo Chavez transform Venezuela from a democracy into an autocracy?
        • What are the guardrails of American democracy? How have they been weakened?
      • JackieK, DanielM
        • How did Mussolini and Hitler come to power?
        • What are the behavioral warning signs of an authoritarian ruler?
        • What should democratic politicians do to stop authoritarians?
      • ErikP, JenniferR, 
        • How did Belgium stave off fascism in 1936? How about Austria in 2016?
        • What are America’s gatekeeping institutions?
        • How did gatekeepers keep Henry Ford from power?
        • How did the 1968 Democratic convention lead to changes in the parties’ gatekeeping function?
  • Readings in Comparative Politics and American Government
    • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (Blackboard, 52-71, 97-117)
      • DanielleT, MiaV
        • What is the invisible primary?
        • Why are party gatekeepers “shells of what they once were?”
        • How was Trump able to win the Republican nomination with no support from the establishment?
      • AaronA, EthanB
        • How does Trump perform on Linz’s four measures for autocrats?
        • What should Republicans have done to stop Trump?
      • AlondraC, ArianaC
        • Why can’t well-designed constitutions guarantee democracy?
        • Why did the Spanish Republic fall?
        • What is constitutional hardball? Give an example from a country outside the US.

Jan. 21 

  • Readings in Comparative Politics and American Government
    • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (Blackboard, 145-175)
      • SarahM, JenniferR, GageU
        • What role did Newt Gingrich play in norm breaking?
        • Which norms were broken under the Bush administration?
        • Why was 2008 a “watershed moment in partisan intolerance?”
        • What role did the Tea Party play in the erosion of norms?
        • What was birtherism?
      • AaronA, CailinB, ArianaC
        • How did the Democrats under Obama respond to Republican norm breaking?
        • What is polarization? How has it gotten worse in recent years?
  • Readings in American Government
    • Christopher Ellis and James A. Stimson, Ideology in America (Blackboard, 1-31)
      • VictorG, AraceliM, ErikP
        • What are the core components of liberalism?
        • What are the core components of conservatism?
        • What are the historical origins of liberalism?
        • What are the historical origins of conservatism?
      • ArielS, MiaV, CarsonB
        • What are symbolic and operational ideology?
        • How do Stimson and Ellis measure Americans’ policy preferences?
        • Why are Americans operational liberals?

Jan. 25

  • Readings in American Government
    • Christopher Ellis and James A. Stimson, Ideology in America, (Backboard, 57-85)
      • AlondraC, MichaelD, BrianaJ
        • What percentage of Americans identify as liberal and conservative? Why don’t conservatives always win in a landslide?
        • What is self-identification? Why is it difficult to study prior to 1968?
      • DanielM, DanielleT
        • What caused the dramatic reduction in self-identified liberals?
        • Who was the new clientele of liberalism?
  • Readings in American Government
    • Christopher Ellis and James A. Stimson, Ideology in America (Blackboard, 155-174)
      • JalenW, EthanB
        • What is framing?
        • What is the difference between symbolic frames and operational frames?
        • Why do liberals attempt to use operational frames while conservatives attempt to use symbolic frames?
      • JesusE, JackieK
        • How do Americans reconcile their symbolic conservatism with their operational liberalism?
        • In the media, how frequently are liberalism and conservatism given a positive or a negative valence?
        • Why does this happen?
      • AmberC, AniyahP
        • What is Ellis and Stimson’s hypothesis about the causes of conflicted conservatism?
        • What controls to Ellis and Stimson use?
        • What results did they report?

Jan. 26

  • Readings in International Relations
    • Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (Blackboard, pp. 8-52)
    • AaronA, ArianaC, JalenW 
      • What is international order?
      • What is a state?
      • What is a system of states?
    • ArielS, CarsonB
      • What is a society of states (international society)?
      • What are the goals of an international system?
      • What is the world order? When and how did it originate?
    • MichaelD, DanielM
      • Does order exist in world politics?
      • Describe the Hobbesian, Kantian, and Grotian traditions.
    • DanielleT, EthanB
      • What were the primary features of Christian International Society?
      • What were the primary features of European International Society?
    • JesusE, SarahM
      • What were the primary features of World International Society?
      • How does Bull criticize the argument that the international system is anarchical?
  • Readings in International Relations
    • Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (Blackboard, pp. 53-98)
    • GageU, CailinB
      • How is order maintained in world politics?
      • What is the roll of common interests, rules, and institutions in the maintenance of world order?
    • VictorG, ErikP
      • What is the structural-functionalist explanation?
      • What is the relationship between international order and justice?
      • What are the different forms of justice?
    •  MiaV, AlondraC
      • What is cosmopolitan of world justice? What are its limitations?
      • Which should be given priority, justice or international order?     

Jan 27

  • Readings in International Relations, ADVICE NOTES
    • Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (Blackboard, pp. 127-161, 318-320)
    • BrianaJ, AniyahP
      • What is international law?
      • How are international laws different from domestic laws?
    • AraceliM, AmberC
      • What effect does international law have on the behavior of states?
      • Why do states obey international law when they do obey it?
      • What is the role of law in relation to the international order?
    • JackieK, JenniferR
      • What are the limitations of international law?
      • What contribution does international law make to internal order in the special circumstances of the “present” time? (Remember when this book was written.)
Jan. 28
What is Your Political Philosophy Quiz, Part II


The Department of History and Political Science mandates that all submitted work adhere to the Turabian/Chicago style delineated in Kate Turabian, et. al., A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, University of Chicago Press (available at the Wilson Library Reference Desk). Here you can access the online version of the Chicago Manual of Style.

Here are a couple of websites that will automatically format citations in Chicago style for you: and


  1. One seat space between students when possible.
  2. No bathroom breaks except in the case of illness or emergency.  Student should discuss this circumstance with the proctor prior to the start of the exam.
  3. No materials on the desk except for pens/pencils, bluebook or writing paper and exam.
  4. Under no circumstances can students access electronic devices during the exam.
  5. Exam proctors will note any violation of these rules and those will be considered in the final grade.


Your work will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

A— designates work of extraordinarily high quality; reflects unusually thorough and comprehensive understanding of issues at hand; presents a clearly identifiable thesis and argument that demonstrates cogent and creative development and support of ideas.

B— designates work of high quality; reflects clearly organized and comprehensive understanding of issues and hand; presents substantive thesis and argument with evident development and support of ideas.

C— designates work which minimally meets requirements set forward in assignment; reflects some organization and development of ideas, but develops argument in superficial or simplistic manner; may only address part of the assignment or be otherwise incomplete.

D— designates work of poor quality which does not meet minimum requirements set forward in assignment; demonstrates poor organization of ideas and/or inattention to development of ideas, grammar, and spelling; treatment of material is superficial and/or simplistic; may indicate that student has not done reading assignments thoroughly.

F— designates work that does not meet ANY of the standards set above or which is not handed in.


Plagiarism is a prevalent but highly unethical practice. Plagiarism will result in the immediate failure of this course and disciplinary action which could lead to expulsion from the University. If you are having problems in the course, please come and talk to me about it rather than doing something that could put your entire college career in jeopardy.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to the following:

·The direct copying of any source, such as written and verbal material, computer files, audio disks, video programs or musical scores, whether published or unpublished, in whole or part, without proper acknowledgment that it is someone else’s.

·Copying of any source in whole or part with only minor changes in wording or syntax, even with acknowledgment.

·Submitting as one’s own work a report, examination paper, computer file, lab report or other assignment that has been prepared by someone else. This includes research papers purchased from any other person or agency.

·The paraphrasing of another’s work or ideas without proper acknowledgment.


The Academic Success Center provides free one-on-one peer tutoring to graduate and undergraduate students in a wide variety of courses and subjects. Please make liberal use of the ASC if you need assistance with any of the assignments for this course. To make an appointment, use the quick start guide, stop by ASC on the second floor of the Campus Center, or call (909) 448-4342. Answers to frequently asked questions are available here.

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