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Political Ideologies: Idea Systems

Course Number: PS 225
Transcript Title: Polit Ideologies: Idea Systems
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: December 19, 2014
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


WR 115, RD 115, MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Covers sources, strengths and weaknesses of contemporary ideologies, and the conditions which lead to conflict or to cooperation among them. Includes liberalisms, conservativisms, socialisms, fascisms, and other idea systems. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

  1. Distinguish among major contemporary ideologies, identifying the culturally based assumptions and influences which lead to conflict and to cooperation among them.
  2. Communicate clearly historical sources contributing to the evolution of different idea systems, with the ability to express opinions regarding strengths and weaknesses associated with each.
  3. Apply critical thinking skills with regards to controversial issues including the impact of cultural filters on social and political interactions.
  4. Formulate and apply personal value judgments, while demonstrating sensitivity and empathy for other people with differing points of view.
  5. Engage in lifelong learning that includes the ability to conceptually organize information while practicing ethical and social requirements of responsible citizenship.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will distribute a course syllabus which clearly includes the criteria for assigning course grades.

  • Exams comprised of essay and/or objective (like short answer) elements which require integration, application, and critical examination of course concepts, issues, and themes.
  • Short analytical or application papers on specific concepts, issues, or themes.
  • Term or research papers, using a variety of research strategies.
  • Oral presentations resulting from group research, analysis, and critical evaluation.
  • Participation in class discussions, role plays, case studies, workshops, and/or other activities.
  • Response papers or journals reflecting on life experiences, events, and social/political phenomena.
  • Service-learning tasks: involving service to community, reflection, and application of course criteria.

Texts and Materials

All texts are selected at the each instructor's discretion. However, successful past offerings of this course and a desire to have some continuity of pedagogy among the instructors strongly encourages use of one standard textbook supplemented by an easy-reading utopia or other primary source that represents one or more of the ideologies studied in the course.

Sample Textbooks:

  • Modern Political Ideologies, by Terrence Ball and Richard Dagger (Harper Collins, 1999).
  • Political Ideologies, by Andrew Heywood (Worth Publishers, 1998).

Supplemental Texts:

  • Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Pantheon Books, 1919).
  • Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy (McGraw-Hill Publishers, 1887).
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (Mentor Books, 1948).

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

After completing this course, the student should have a basic understanding of:

  • Levels of understanding and analyzing political ideologies, including basic assumptions, beliefs, goals, and strategies (programs for action) associated with each.
  • How different idea systems, economic systems, and socio-political realities help create, perpetuate, and/or resolve crises and conflicts on interpersonal, group, societal, international, and global levels.
  • Selected historical case studies which may help illustrate the relationship of idea systems in theory and their manifestation in real world practice.
  • The relationship of personal behavior and lifestyle choices to crises and conflicts which took place in the past, continue into the present, and may or may not be transcended in the future.
  • How one's own values and actions impact what is seen as right and wrong, good and bad, and the prospects for a future to unfold that is more to one's liking.

Competencies and Skills

  • Write and communicate orally in a clear, organized, and effective manner.
  • Think critically about current public policy issues and analyze complex social and political realities.
  • Use varied and effective research techniques and strategies.
  • Develop and refine group process skills, which may include listening, brainstorming, cooperating, negotiating, or otherwise communicating regarding shared tasks.
  • Develop an ability to listen to and empathize with diverse perspectives and experiences.
  • Integrate coursework with current events and trends through examination of popular media and various sources of news.
  • Develop and practice active citizenship skills.