This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 17.50 Introduction to Comparative Politics as it was taught by Professor Chappell Lawson in Spring 2014.

This course taught students about politics around the world, focusing on democracy, the political roots of economic development, and how America’s political system compares to that of other countries.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • An understanding of the political context in which they live and in other countries
  • Basic frameworks to make sense of politics
  • Analytical writing and presentation skills
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Requirements Satisfied

Offered

Every spring semester

The Classroom

  • Four rows of tables and chairs are surrounded by chalkboards on all sides.

    Seminar

    This course was taught in a medium-sized classroom equipped with chalkboards.

    For this seminar, the tables and chairs were rearranged to encourage interaction amongst the participants.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by presentations and debates. 35% Formal presentations and debates
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by papers. 35% Papers
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the final exam. 15% Final exam
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by a map test. 5% Map test (in recitation)
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by participation. 10% Class participation, with some attempt to take into account which individuals contributed more to their groups in collective assignments
 
 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Seminar

2 hours per week
  • Met twice a week for 2 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • The first third of the semester included more in the way of presentations by the instructor to make sure everyone is on the same page. The other weeks involved breakout groups and student presentations.
  • This subject was designed so that there was extensive class discussion. Students were expected to participate actively and intelligently throughout the semester.
 

Recitation

1 hour per week

Met twice a week for 1 hour per session; 12 sessions total.

 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
  • Readings in preparation for class sessions
  • Preparation for breakout groups, class debates, and “Arab Spring” presentations
  • Six class papers (two were rewritten)
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
3 No classes throughout MIT. Seminar session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. No session scheduled.
4 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
5 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Class presentations scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
6 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
7 Class debate scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
11 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Class presentations scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Class presentations scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
14 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; paper due date.
15 Seminar session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled. Seminar session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT; exam held. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when seminar sessions are held. Seminar session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when student presentations are scheduled. Class presentations
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when papers are due. Paper due date
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitation sessions are held. Recitation
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class debates are scheduled. Class debate
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held. Exam