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COURSE NAME: "Western European Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Federigo Argentieri
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:30-5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: PL 223
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

The course examines the political systems in Western Europe and major political developments affecting Western Europe since 1945 through a comparative lens. Looking at historical legacies, political cultures, types of government, and party systems shaping the major Western European powers, students will gain an understanding of the constitutive features, and transnational developments, challenges and changes in Western European states.
The geopolitical origins of Western Europe
Liberalism, democracy, dictatorship
Centralization, federalism, regionalism
Traditional parties and their evolution
Newer parties, social and protest movements
Unions, labor, welfare issues, past and present
Cultural and religious identities, immigration, integration
International profiles
Case studies
Students are expected to gain a reasonable knowledge of the main common problems and distinctive features of the countries presented and discussed, including acquaintance with government and party leaders, differences in political systems, power relations, national identities; to be able to analyze problems (possibly also offering solutions) and situations pertaining to the region; to identify present and (recent) past actors, their records, performances and programs.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Western Europe 2017-2018Wayne C. ThompsonRowman and Littlefield978-1-4758-3508-3 The book should be available by the first week of class
A Utopia Like Any Other - Inside the Swedish ModelDominic HindeLuath Press Limited978-1-910745-32-8  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe 2015-2016 15th EditionWayne C. ThompsonRowman & Littlefield978-1-4758-1882-6  

Three papers - Four double-spaced pages eachPapers will be on an assigned topic, with required or recommended sources and need to meet a specific format (more detailed instructions to be distributed in class). Topics will be related to the following: 1) Discussion of German elections of Sep. 24 2) Discussion of Catalan referendum of Oct. 1 3) Discussion of the book "A Utopia Like Any Other", by Dominic Hinde75%
Attendance and participationRegular attendance is required and only excused absences will not affect the grade (see Attnd. requirements section for details). Additionally, students are expected to participate in discussions and demonstrate their acquaintance with the assigned reading. The instructor will occasionally check on this particular aspect by asking questions related to such assignments. Numerically speaking, each unjustified absence will be counted 5 pts down and each positive (oral) feedback on the readings 3 pts up. The final score in this section will be counted also in terms of overall performance of the student.25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cour
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

 Regular attendance and active participation in class are essential: this includes punctuality and quick checking of intranet messages. Absences will affect the final grade, unless caused by serious family or medical emergencies. Makeup examinations may be given or late papers accepted only for the same reasons. In order to take full advantage of this class and make it an important learning experience, it is crucial to create a communicative virtuous circle, i.e. an environment where possible misunderstandings are reduced to a minimum or altogether eliminated and potential problems and issues are addressed and solved very quickly. Example: some of you may have a stronger background in Politics, and some a weaker one or none: there is nothing wrong in acknowledging it and  alerting the professor, so that he can adjust his pace to the audience and work more with single cases if need be. More specifically, you can contribute quite substantially to the creation of a virtuous circle if you consider the following: 

1) Some  patterns of demeanor are invisible in a large infrastructure, yet become disruptive in a smaller one. They include the following (during class): - walking in and especially out of the room, in absence of an emergency or prior permission; - making use of the internet and/or any social network, such as Facebook, Twitter or a mere sms; - reading or studying for a class other than the one being attended. Taking good note of all this and acting accordingly, besides averting inevitable grade-docking, will greatly help and will be much appreciated.  Therefore, you are kindly requested to turn off your Iphones et al. and avoid using a laptop during class. Exceptions can be made only in some specific cases 

2) Students should be able to make the difference between occurrences which justify their absences and those which don't, and alert the prof only in the former case.  Examples:   

Occurrence                                 Absence Justified?                Communication needed                        

i) Sickness                                                       yes                                         yes                      

ii) Major emergency                                        yes                                         yes                         
(accident, serious family issues,                          

iii)Travel issues of any kind                             no                                           no                         

iv) Family/partner/friend(s)                         
are in town                                                        no                                           no                      
 (although  welcome to                         
class if interested, in which case please                         
notify the prof)                                 

v) AoB                                                         to be determined on case-by-case criteria

3) A smaller environment should encourage a more active and direct participation of students and a more effective communication between students and professor. The former are strongly encouraged to intervene in class at any moment if something doesn't sound clear, or in the appropriate discussion time if they wish to raise a specific issue or argue about it (this latter part will be considered for grading purposes, only to the extent it shows interest for the topic and capabilities to support an argument). Opinions can be freely expressed (teacher included) and are never graded as such.  Should a student feel uncomfortable about speaking in public, s/he is welcome to contact or email the professor to discuss privately 

4) Finally, and on a more academic note, some concrete tips to start off in the best way possible and obtain satisfactory results:  - This is a textbook-based course. No matter if individually or in a group, students should get hold of a copy anyway, as all their assignments will be based on it. Alternative routes based on the use of popular websites (e.g. Wikipedia) are strongly discouraged and would lead to poor results - Class lectures do not merely repeat or explain (unless specifically required) the content of the readings, but aim at completing them by providing additional information and different visual angles. In order to achieve optimal results, students should work on combining their notes with reading assignments and videos screened (see next point) and raise immediately all issues related to any perceived discrepancy, incoherence or misunderstanding  - Videos shown in class command the same respect and attention as all other instructional materials and should never be considered as avoidable parts of the course program (or the right moment when to disregard point 1 above)  - Whenever possible, students are encouraged to take advantage of extra-credit opportunities (field trips, evening films, Guarini Institute events) even if their score is good, as these could prove ultimately decisive in enhancing their grade
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
Aug. 29-31Introduction to the course. Definitions of (Western) EuropeThompson Nordic and Western (intro)  
Sep. 5-7Intro to German politicsGermany (Thompson Nordic)  
Sep. 12-14The Sep. 24 election: players and policiesSame as above  
Sep. 19-21Intro to Spanish politicsSpain (Thompson Western)  
Sep. 26-28The Catalonian referendum of Oct. 1Spain (Thompson Western)Optional field trip to Barcelona Sep. 28-Oct.2 
Oct. 3-5Same as aboveSame as above Germany paper due at the start of Thursday's class
Oct. 10-12Relevance of the German and Spanish vote for EuropeAll previous readingsIn-class check on readings 
Oct. 17-19Italy detour: the Lombard-Veneto referendum of Oct. 22Italy (Thompson Western) and tba  
Oct. 24-26-27General discussion on all recent votesAll previous readingsIn-class check on readings 
Oct. 31-Nov. 2Intro to Swedish politicsSweden (Thompson Nordic) Spain paper due at the beginning of Thursday's class
Nov. 7-9The Swedish "model"As above and Hinde  
Nov. 14-16-21Immigration, integration, terrorismAs above and tba  
Nov. 28-30Concluding discussionAll previous readingsIn-class check on readingsSweden paper due on day of final exam