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PS 341: European Politics

Instructor: Jiří Koubek
Credits: 3
GEP: Social Science, Global Knowledge

Course Description

Comparative analysis of the interests, institutions and processes that determine political stability and economic security in Europe, including the political and economic development of Europe, the role of parties and party politics, the institutions and politics of the European Union.

Europe is standing at a crossroads. Established political institutions, norms and parties are being challenged. In some countries, the very concept of liberal democracy is called into question. The idea of European integration, or at least its current practice, is exposed to serious critiques almost all across the continent. This course ought to help students understand the country-specific contexts and roots of these changes.

Learning Outcomes

Students will achieve thorough knowledge of European politics reflecting multiple dimensions (socio-cultural divisions) within Europe: East – West, North – South, old-established democracies – new/more recent democracies, high – medium developed, EU core – EU periphery, etc.

In the first step, an elementary introduction to the E.U.’s politics and system of government will be made. Then, selected European countries/ groupings of countries/ regions will be explored, each of them serving as a gateway for students to a relevant social science theory or concept.

Students will develop the skill to apply those theories and concepts as tools helping them (1.) structure the immensely complex and multifaceted empirical reality, (2.) perceive and understand differences and similarities across those countries/ groupings of countries/ regions, (3.) understand the context and roots of those differences and similarities, and (4.) compare this newly-acquired knowledge of European politics to the system they are, assumedly, best familiar with, i.e. the political system and politics of the U.S.

This means that, in addition to better factual, conceptual and theoretical knowledge and understanding, substantial cultural enrichment on the part of both the students and the instructor is expected to be an overarching learning outcome across all the above-mentioned partial outcomes.