POLS 150: Current World Problems Fall 2011, Ohio University

Course Schedule (By Session)

Prologue: Thinking like a Social Scientist, Thinking like a Good Global Citizen

  • Tuesday, September 6: Introduction

Introduction to the course, review of the syllabus, initial lecture and discussion

  • Thursday, September 8: How Social Scientists Study and Discuss Politics

Reading: Larry Bartels (2005), "Homer Gets a Tax Cut: Inequality and Public Policy in the American Mind," Perspectives on Politics, 3:1, pp. 15-31


Course Module 1: The Great Recession: Politics and the Economy

  • Tuesday, September 13: The Financial Crisis in America, Part 1—The Housing Bubble and the Mortgage Crisis

Listening:  This American Life Podcast: The Giant Pile of Money (Free to stream on their website, $0.99 to download)

Reading: Michael Lewis (2010), The Big Short (New York: W.W. Norton) pp. xiii-60 (Preface-Chapter 2)

  • Thursday, September 15: The Financial Crisis in America, Part 2—Mortgage-Backed Securities, CDOs, and Derivatives (I)

Reading: Michael Lewis (2010), The Big Short (New York: W.W. Norton) pp. 61-135  (Chapter 3-Chapter 5)

Recommended Reading: Anna Katherine Barnett-Hart (2009), "The Story of the CDO Market Meltdown: An Empirical Analysis," Harvard Undergraduate Thesis, pp. 3-33

  • Tuesday, September 20: The Financial Crisis in America, Part 2—How Wall Street Did Business

Reading: Michael Lewis (2010), The Big Short (New York: W.W. Norton) pp. 136-199  (Chapter 6-Chapter 8 )

Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein (April 9, 2010), "The Magnetar Trade: How One Hedge Fund Helped Keep the Bubble Going"  ProPublica (Be sure to read all eight "chapters"  by clicking "Next" at the bottom of each story, or by following the links under the heading "The Full Story," on the left-hand side of each page)

  • Thursday, September 22: The Financial Crisis in America, Part 3—The Crash (and what to do?)

Listening: This American Life Podcast: Bad Banks (Free to stream on their website, $0.99 to download)

Reading: Michael Lewis (2010), The Big Short (New York: W.W. Norton) pp. 200-264 (Chapter 9-Epilogue)


Analytic Interlude (I)

  • Tuesday, September 27: Writing Policy Memos

Please look at the "Sample Memo," posted on this website (From "Cigar Aficionado" Magazine), in advance of our meeting.

Reading: Keith Hjortshoj (2001), Transition to College Writing (Bedford/St. Martin's Press), pp. 172-84

  • Thursday, September 29: No Class, Group Meetings

Course Module 1: The Great Recession: Politics and the Economy (Continued)

  • Tuesday, October 4: Capitalism and Democracy, or What's the Role of a Democratic Government in a Capitalist Economy? 

Reading: Milton Friedman (1962), Capitalism and Freedom, (University of Chicago Press), Chapter One, "The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom," pp. 7-21

Charles Lindblom (1982), “The Market as Prison,” Journal of Politics, 44:2, pp. 324-36

Elizabeth Warren (2007), "Unsafe at Any Rate," Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Issue #5

  • Thursday, October 6: Inequality and Capitalism in American Democracy (I)

Reading: Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson (2010), "Winner Take All Politics: Public Policy, Political Organization, and the Precipitous Rise of Top Incomes in the United States," Politics & Society, 38:2, pp. 152-204

  • Tuesday, October 11: Inequality and Capitalism in American Democracy (II)

Reading: Will Wilkinson (2009), "Thinking Clearly About Economic Policy," Cato Institute Policy Analysis # 640


Analytic Interlude (II)

  • Thursday, October 13: Exam I

Course Module 2: Democracy and Development in Dangerous Places: Understanding Contentious Politics in the Global South

  • Tuesday, October 18: The Bottom Billion: Global Inequality and Democracy

Reading: Paul Collier (2009), War, Guns, and Votes, pp. 1-50

  • Thursday, October 20: Barriers to Democratization, Part 1—Ethnic Diversity

Reading: Paul Collier (2009), War, Guns, and Votes, pp. 51-74

Peter Uvin (1999), "Ethnicity and Power in Burundi and Rwanda: Different Paths to Mass Violence," Comparative Politics, 31:3, pp. 253-71

  • Tuesday, October 25: Civil Wars in Theory and Practice--With an Example from the Ivory Coast

Reading: Paul Collier (2009), War, Guns, and Votes, pp. 121-40 and 155-68

  • Thursday, October 27: Ending the Cycle of Violence--Guns, Coups, Peacekeeping, and Development

Reading: Paul Collier (2009), War, Guns, and Votes, pp. 103-120 and 141-54 and 75-102

  • Tuesday, November 1: The Politics of Protest and Democratization--With Examples from the Middle East (Memos Due)

Reading: Marc Lynch (2011) "After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State," Perspectives on Politics, 9:2, pp. 301-10

Timur Kuran (1991), "The East European Revolutions of 1989: Is it Surprising We Were Surprised?," The American Economic Review, 81:2, pp. 121-5

  • Thursday, November 3: Making Development Happen: The "Big Push" = Guest Speaker*

Reading: Jeffrey Sachs (2005), “The Development Challenge,” Foreign Affairs, 84:2, pp. 78-90

*The Political Science department will be hosting  job candidates this fall for a new position in our department.  As part of their interview, one of the job candidates will be coming to our class to speak about a current international issue. 

  • Tuesday, November 8: Making Development Happen: The Market

Reading: William Easterly (July/Aug 2007), "The Ideology of Development," Foreign Policy

William Easterly (Jan/Feb 2009), "The Poor Man's Burden," Foreign Policy, pp. 77-81

  • Thursday, November 10:  Making Development Happen:—Collier's Solution, and Some Conclusions

Reading: Paul Collier (2009), War, Guns, and Votes, pp. 169-234


Analytic Interlude (III)

  • Thursday, November 17 at 8:00 AM (in our lecture hall): Exam II* (Final Memo Revisions Due)

*By University policy, this exam must take place at the time scheduled for the "final exam."  As outlined in the course policies, it is your responsibility to be available at this time.  No early or make-up exams will be given, except in exceptional (and verifiable) emergency circumstances.  Wishing to leave early for break, or the ill-advised purchase of a plane ticket home/for vacation in advance of checking one's schedule does not constitute an "exceptional" circumstance.