Comparative Politics

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Comparing political systems is at least as old as Aristotle, whose library contained more than 135 studies of constitutions of the ancient world. This course will compare contemporary political systems and consider some of the main challenges they face: forging a common identity and sense of community; meeting social and economic needs; and securing civil and political liberties and human rights. Recognizing that political societies of today's worlds can differ dramatically, the course will begin by introducing concepts and approaches that make it possible to compare systems as different as those of China and Great Britain. In addition to the broader paradigms of system, structure and function, we will also consider forms of political culture and socialization, interest articulation and aggregation, party systems and policymaking. Several distinct systems will be studied; these will be chosen not only for their geographical, but also for their political diversity, representing first-world nations such as the United States, Britain and France, as well as post-communist and post-colonial states such as Russia, China and Nigeria.

3 credits

Course Code: SS 320

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.