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COURSE NAME: "Western European Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

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 2019-2010 38th editionWayne C. ThompsonRowman & Littlefield978-1-4758-5202-8 .

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.20%
One paper (roughly 2,000 words) on Europe's geography, cultural traditions and politicsTo be distributed in class 20%
Two papers of approximately 3,000 words each These papers should focus on specific issues related to Spain and the UK respectively. More instructions in class60% (30% each)
ALL OF THE ABOVE THREE PAPERSUndergrad Paper Writing Decalogue - Five dos and five don’ts to submit a successful paper: 1) Follow the instructions scrupulously, particularly regarding sources, style, length, etc. 2) Save trees: print on front and back, avoid unnecessary cover sheets or redundant bibliographies when all your sources have already been listed e.g. in footnotes 3) Make sure to indicate your name, the course code, semester and title on top left corner of front page and to number all subsequent pages. In case of multiple sheets, staple the paper at that corner avoiding plastic envelopes or binders, which make the reading complicated 4) Assess honestly your acquaintance with correct citing methods and procedures; do consult manuals (Chicago MS, MLA, etc.), handbooks, librarians or the writing center when in doubt; double-check with them even if you are certain about how to cite properly 5) Be loyal to yourself, to the teacher and to the entire school community and make the paper a result of your own efforts only 6) Don’t have others write your paper and don’t write a paper for others: it’s the vilest form of cheating 7) Don’t “recycle papers”, i.e. submit papers that you or others already presented in other classes: it’s morally an equivalent of the above 8) Don’t rely on no matter which sources and remember that most online materials are totally random, unchecked and not properly peer-reviewed, starting from Wikipedia, which makes them very likely to be inaccurate in all or in part 9) Don’t hesitate to consult the instructor, the writing lab or the library when in doubt about how to quote without committing plagiarism 10) Don’t refrain from expressing your views if you feel like, even when not specifically encouraged to do so, and remember that they come out more effectively through a proper handling and presentation of sources rather than as a result of mere and unsupported assertions.80%

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
Jan. 22-24Intro to European politics. How can we define Western Europe?Notes, handouts  
Jan. 29-31The concept of political Europe and the Euroatlantic CommunityHandout, notes and intro of Thompson's book  
Feb. 5-7Overview of European parties and political systems Notes and intro  
Feb 12-14Introduction to SpainThompson pp. 375-417  
Feb. 19-21-22The legacy of the Spanish Civil WarSame as above First paper due at the start of Tuesday's class
Feb. 26-28Democratic transition and the 1978 constitutionSame  
March 5-7The Catalonian indipendence crisis, part ISame and handouts  
March 19-21The Catalonian independence crisis part IISame and handouts  
March 26-28Politics in the UK: an introductionThompson pp. 14-75 Spain paper due at the start of Tuesday's class
April 2-4UK parties: the ToriesSame  
April 9-11UK parties: LabourSame  
April 16-18-23-30 and May 2Brexit, Northern Ireland and ScotlandSame UK paper due on day of final exam