This course is a special topics investigation on the basis of democratic
politics in everyday cultural and organizational practices. This course
will seek to:
- refine concepts and causal models of politics and advance students'
familiarity with the vocabulary and methods of political science;
- review important literature in political theory and social science
on the topics of civil society, social capital, and voluntary association,
beginning with classical political theorists;
- provide students with the ability to understand and interpret basic
statistical models and other common quantitative approaches to political
science, with an emphasis on concepts and analytical thinking and very
little actual use of mathematics;
- develop a broad, even-handed understanding of issues and controversies,
preparing students to stake out their own beliefs while fully understanding
and appreciating the merits of opposing views;
- expose students to the practical process of organizing a major group
project, while fairly evaluating individual effort and achievement.
- Learn to apply political science theories, concepts and methods in
a specific research context;
- Develop a broad understanding of the field of "civic culture"
research and strong specific knowledge of selected authors and ideas;
- Understand and articulate the implications of the course materials
for personal and group political activism and public policy.
- Acquire and improve academic writing and project collaboration skills.
The instructor is committed to helping students enjoy the class, the materials,
and the learning process. To that end, students must provide
ongoing feedback on the class to the instructor and each other. A successful
experience will depend greatly on students taking the initiative to propose
new topics, contribute information and design rules and norms for class
collaboration. Students are expected to be respectful of each other in
the classroom and online as we model the real-and-ideal civil society
we are studying.
The texts are all available in the Duke
Textbook store; they are also in the Duke
Libraries and online. Links are provided to each book's price list
at isbn.nu and entries at Amazon.com
and Barnes and Noble:
|Putnam, Robert D., with Robert Leonardi and Raffaella
Y. Nanetti. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy.
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993. (approx.
$21 new retail)
|Rosenblum, Nancy L. and Robert C. Post, eds. Civil
Society and Government. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 2002. (approx. $20 new retail)
|Skocpol, Theda and Morris P. Fiorina, eds. Civic
Engagement in American Democracy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution
Press / Russell Sage Foundation, 1999. (approx. $20 new retail)
Frequent use of the CourseInfo website is absolutely necessary. The site
is located at:
Or log in to courses.duke.edu
and search for POLSCI199C section 27. All class business will be conducted
through the CourseInfo site. Students must check the site on a regular
basis; urgent notices will be sent by e-mail, however. If you have not
used CourseInfo before, you should meet with the instructor immediately
for a quick tutorial.
The calendar is posted and is included here
by reference. The calendar includes (or will include) links to all required
and supplemental reading materials. It may be revised at any time along
with notice to all enrolled students. Students may also participate in
making consensual changes to the calendar.
Grading will be as follows (subject to some changes given class input
during the first two weeks), for a total possible of 1,000 points; see
below for detailed descriptions of assignments:
including four 20-point quizzes (a dean's excuse
is required for make-up quizzes), one class period as discussion moderator
(20 points), and regular involvement in class discussion (50 points).
||Regular contributions to
the online CourseInfo discussion group. (10 weeks @ 15 points
||Two solo review and analysis
papers reviewing books or major articles relevant to your class
project group and committee assignments (10% each; two student reviewers
for each paper award up to five points each)
||Class project (20%
for individual-level contributions, 10% each for group-, and class-level
contributions); see project guidelines below.
||Small extra credit
opportunities TBA (no more than 30 points or 3% possible)
The proposed grading scale is as follows; don't let the numbers intimidate
you, A's and A+'s are very achievable with a consistent effort and a little
on the course calendar marked with an asterisk
(*) are required; you will need to read this material with attention to
participate in the class. No one is expected to be completely informed
at all times, but the semester's pattern should be positive for each student
to receive a high score. Two to four quizzes will be announced and given
on previous readings and lectures; if course participation is lackluster,
some quizzes may be unannounced instead. Each students will also moderate
a class discussion at least once during the semester.
Any readings or web sites marked with a hyphen (-) are supplemental.
Unless you already have a copy, please print and at least skim each supplemental
reading before class and bring it to class; the instructor may refer to
these materials in class and you can use the printed copies to take valuable
Each student should contribute a minimum of three "posts"
or messages to the Reviews
and Replies forum. Each week's posts are worth 15 points and must
be completed on time to receive credit. The posts are assigned as follows:
This assignment is intended to pursue several goals: 1) to work on writing
skills without too many longer assignments; 2) to practice the new technology
of online discussions in a literate and civil fashion; 3) to encourage
reading and discussion of course materials. In this light, forum posts
should be well-written, polite and thoughtful. Humor and banter are welcome,
but be careful to keep the Reviews and Replies Forum focused on class
topics. The instructor will give each student extended comments on writing
form and substance at least twice during the semester.
Two five- to eight-page
solo papers are required. Due dates are Monday, February 24 and Monday,
March 31. Topics will be discussed and assigned well in advance.
The class project will
provide students with experience in the kind of practical "micropolitics"
we are discussing. Students must organize and execute a collective effort
from beginning to end. The project is absolutely due by 7pm on Friday,
May 3 (the time of the course's final exam period), but should easily
be finished and submitted sooner so students who are finished with exams
can leave town as needed. The instructor will guide and approve the project,
but the choice of topic and the division of labor should be generally
at the students' initiative. The edited volumes used as texts in the class
may serve as models for the students' approach.
ORGANIZATION: Students will organize in project groups. A variety
of written, audio and visual components can be used, but each student
must contribute an individual section involving a substantial amount of
content and effort; the instructor will indicate how much is enough as
the eventual format is defined. Project sections may consist partly of
revised material submitted in the two solo papers and the "Reviews
& Replies" discussion groups. Each group must work to improve
and integrate the individual sections and provide a group section that
clarifies and analyzes the integrated topic. Project leadership must integrate
and improve the group sections into an overview. The project will be drafted
with enough time to allow each student to review it and suggest improvements.
The instructor will provide assistance in organizing the process of reviewing
and improving the project and will regularly indicate areas that need
improvement for better grades.
TOPICS: Here are some broad areas of investigation the project
could pursue; the eventual topic chosen will be more specific and concrete:
- Applying competing definitions and theories of civil society to a
single particular area of political inquiry, such as civil rights, religious
groups, government reform, welfare systems, press and media, technological
- Developing a new theory or approach to civil society and articulating
it with reference to each of the several areas of inquiry mentioned
- Discuss various existing models of institutional designs for state-society
relations and propose alternatives; evaluate specific cases of legislation
- Critique and compare research methods used by scholars studying social
capital, and propose improvements.
Here is an idea of how you can manage this workload for a typical week:
- Come to class: 90 minutes twice a week, including travel time (3 hours
- Read assigned texts: 3 hours maximum (if you are taking longer, talk
to the instructor about learning to skim productively).
- Read forums, then post a message or two on the online forum : 1 hour
- Work on assigned papers or project assignments: 2-3 hours weekly average.
If you work at the class steadily, this adds up to 9-10 hours weekly
maximum, including class time, leaving time for recreation and/or
employment even with a full course load. Falling behind will obviously
begin to hurt in a hurry, however. If you find that you regularly need
more time to fulfill the course requirements, please talk with the instructor
This class will focus on writing well; while your grades will not depend
heavily on your initial writing ability, you must demonstrate effort and
improvement in response to critique as the course proceeds. The instructor
will provide detailed editorial comments on each paper. Grammatical errors,
stylistic problems and logical faults addressed in these comments should
improve noticeably if you want to receive a good grade for the course.
You are encouraged to take advantage of the services the campus Writing
Studio offers. It is best to schedule an appointment early in the writing
process. To do so, use the on-line
For help with citation formats, see the Duke
Libraries Citation Guide. Students may use any consistent format,
although the preferred format for political science follows the APSR
format, which resembles the APA In-Text Parenthetical Citation style
documented on the Duke page linked above.
Official excuses can be obtained from the dean's office of your school.
They are available only for missed written assignments and examinations,
and only due to illness, representing the university (e.g. athletic competition),
or for a death in the family. A list of deans is available at http://www.provost.duke.edu
under the "Deans and Directors" link; for most, your dean is
in the School of Arts and Sciences.
If at any time you feel your state of mind is interfering with your class
performance, please speak with the instructor. If you would prefer to
speak with someone else, contact Duke
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 660-1000 or in 214
Page (next to the Duke Chapel).
Students with disabilities that may require extended exam times or other
accommodations should contact the Office
of Services for Students with Disabilities at (919) 684-5917 or e-mail
director Emma Swain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The instructor cannot alter the course requirements for any disability
without certification from this office.