Fall 2016 Class Schedule

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My schedule this semester is, as expected for a junior political science major, very social science heavy. I’ve never had class all five days of the week before, but I’ve also never taken a full schedule of such Amy classes. All in all, I’ve been loving it so far! Here’s each class I’m taking at a glance.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Course Description:

This course will provide and analysis of US foreign policy with a focus on the interests, institutions, and ideas underpinning its development. While the course will offer a broader survey, the emphasis will be on important developments during the Cold War, such as the articulation of containnment strategies and nuclear deterrence, and the analysis of contemporary foreign policy questions, including the problems of terrorism and failed states. In addition to security issues, attention will also be paid to significant developments in international trade policy.

Grading Breakdown:

Participation in sections: 10%, Two midterms: 25% each, Final: 40%

First Impression:

This class seems like it’ll be just fine. The professor is really charismatic and energetic, my TA structures sections very efficiently, and the readings have been a breeze so far. It is technically a 200-level class, but it seems to be taught as an introduction. It satisfies requirements across Political Science, International Studies, and even GECS, so there’s a diverse body of students in every lecture. I’m a little concerned about the lack of papers in this class, though. Expository political writing is definitely my forte; I’ll be golden if the tests are made up of essays, but very nervous if it’s all short answer/multiple choice. Oh well, I’ll manage either way.

Training/Writing/Consulting

Course Description:

A one credit course for those undergrads who have been nominated as Writing Center tutors. Permission required.

Grading Breakdown:

Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory grades are earned on a holistic basis.

First Impression:

I could not be more pumped for this class. Since just four students are taking it, the professor has already paid close attention to my writing style and habits. This is only a one credit class, but I’d still enroll if JHU offered an 18 credit version. I’m down to think meaningfully about expository writing any day of the week.

Democracy and Elections

Course Description:

An examination of most aspects of democratic elections with the exception of the behavior of voters. Topics include the impact of various electoral systems and administrative reforms on the outcome of elections, standards for evaluations of electoral systems, and the impact of the Arrow problem on normative theories of democratic elections.

Grading Breakdown:

For those who obsess about such things, initial grades will be based on the first test (20%), the final (30%), the paper (40%), and section participation (10%)

First Impression:

The grading breakdown above is taken word-for-word from the syllabus. As a sheep who does “obsess about such things,” I was a little taken-aback at the Professor’s outward snark on the first day. But that’s just how he likes to lighten the room, and I really do appreciate it on a long Monday afternoon. By December, I will have written a 20 page paper about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its intersection with democracy/federalism. I’m exactly 0% excited for it. Though other students seem genuinely eager about trudging through all those pages of writing, so hopefully some of their enthusiasm will rub off on me.

Parties and Elections in America

Course Description:

Considers how parties and elections structure political conflict, and facilitate (or not) democratic control of government. Topics include campaigns, voting behavior, election administration, money in politics, presidential nomination, and party coalitions.

Grading Breakdown:

Participation: 15 percent. Midterm: 20 percent, Paper: 35 percent, Final Exam: 30 percent

First Impression:

I’m here for U.S. Politics, so this class is right up my alley. So far, the professor has blown me away with his ability to list every major political figure in any election in U.S. history. He’s a really bright guy who clearly enjoys his work. We are encouraged to bring in any daily news from the current election to chat about at the beginning of class, which makes the theory come to life.

Italy Off the Beaten Path

Course Description:

For centuries, Italy has attracted countless visitors in search of culture and beauty. This one-credit course is an invitation to a journey from South to North across some of the most stunning – and perhaps lesser-known – treasures of Italian cities, regions, and communities. The course is taught in English. No knowledge of Italian is required, but those who can read in Italian will have an opportunity to do so. Everyone will learn some Italian words and expressions.

Grading Breakdown: 

20%: Attendance  40% Group presentation  40% Final take-home exam.

First Impression:

This is entirely a wild-card for me. I don’t need to take this class for any kind of degree requirement whatsoever, I don’t speak Italian, and I’ve never been outside of North America. I’m taking it because my best friend from high school is studying abroad in Rome this semester, so hopefully I’ll be able to use this class to engage with her new home. So far, I’ve loved how the professor uses Italian art to guide the narrative of his presentations. It’s been such a refreshing way to end my week.

Sociology of Health and Illness

Course Description:

This course introduces students to medical sociology, which is the application of the sociological perspective to health and health care. Major topics include stress, social epidemiology, and the social organization of health care.

Grading Breakdown:

Course grades will be based on in-class quizzes (20%), two take home essays (10% each), a team presentation (20%), and a final exam (25%) as well as class participation, which includes lecture and discussion section attendance and engagement (15%).

First Impression:

It’s a miracle I even got into this class, it’s (understandably) very popular. The material lends itself to engaging lectures and substantive discussions. Most of the students in my class are Public Health majors, who really are taught to think differently than Political Science majors. So, my peers always think I’m saying something super novel. Absolutely no complaints here.

Introduction to Social Policy: Baltimore and Beyond

Course Description:

This course will introduce students to basic concepts in economics, political science and sociology relevant to the study of social problems and the programs designed to remedy them. It will address the many inequalities in access to education and health care, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, disparities in income and wealth, and differential access to political power.

Grading Breakdown:

4 papers (70%), Participation (30%)

First Impression:

Economics will never be my cup of tea. I can’t believe I’m taking a course cross-listed in econ when my degree doesn’t require it. However, the social policy lens here was too enticing to pass up. It’s co-taught by three professors, one from each department of Sociology, Political Science, and Economics. Though I’ve been dragging my feet through the first portion of the course focused on econ, next week will be a welcome transition to sociology. The environment of the class lends itself debate, devil’s advocate stances, and criticism of established works. All in all, a welcome addition to my schedule.

 

 

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