Current Events Articles
At the beginning of the semester, you should select one class from the following classes: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. In preparation for that class, you should find at least one recent newspaper or magazine article dealing with the substantive topic of that week (e.g., civil-military relations). Your article need not cover the country we discuss in class, though it may do so. Useful sources include the web sites listed at the end of the syllabus and publications like New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Economist magazine.
Articles are due the week before the week you have selected. Thus, if you selected class 11 (on ethnic conflict in Nigeria), you should bring copies of an article that discusses ethnic conflict and democratization in the developing world to class 10. Be sure to bring enough copies for everyone in the class. Also, be prepared to summarize and critique your article for the benefit of the class in the week in which your article will be discussed.
Class Debates (Class 4 and Class 10)
The class will include two in-class debates, one in class 4 and one in class 10. The first will address the issue of whether democracy matters, and students will be expected to present one of several points of view (described in class 3). At the beginning of class 4, we will choose at random one speaker from each side, who will make brief oral presentations of their position on the debate question. Each presentation is limited to 5 minutes, and we will strictly enforce the time. A general class discussion will take place after each team has presented its position, and students not chosen to make formal presentations should direct questions to the different debaters. At the end of the debate, a vote will be taken to determine which position seemed most persuasive.
The second debate will address the issue of transitional justice - specifically, whether or not to punish military officers in Brazil for violations of human rights committed during the period of military dictatorship (1964-1984). We will divide the class into three teams (those arguing that Brazil's military rulers should have been tried in 1985, those arguing that they should be tried now, and those arguing that they should not be tried). The first speaker from each team will make a two-minute opening statement laying out her team's overall position. The second speaker from each team will then have two minutes to rebut the arguments made by the other teams. The third speaker from each team will then be allowed four minutes to cross-examine her counterparts on either opposing team, who must defend his team's position with brief and direct replies. The fourth speaker on each team will then summarize her team's arguments, addressing any weaknesses that have been exposed and pointing out weaknesses in the other team's positions. Please note that we will time each presentation strictly, so that you should prepare and practice your comments in advance as much as possible. In most cases, this will require anticipating the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the debate.
fter the presentations, the judges will vote by secret ballot for (1) which side made the best case, and (2) which individual speaker did the best job presenting her case. Finally, the whole class will vote on which strategy Brazil's civilian leaders should have employed. Time permitting, we will then open up the class to general discussion.
3 Short (7 page) Writing Assignments
Topics will be handed out one or two weeks before the papers are due. Papers are due by 4 p.m. three days after the class for the week they are listed. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and fully referenced. Late papers will be penalized one third of a grade (e.g., from A to A-) for each day late.
We prefer to practice blind grading, so please put your name on a separate sheet at the end of the paper. At the risk of stifling free expression, we also ask that you use Times 12 font (or the closest equivalent on your computer). Otherwise, we learn font styles after the first paper, which defeats the purpose of blind grading.
Hints for Writing Papers