Scope and Methods of Political Science

Political Science 201
J. Barron Boyd, Jr.
Mitchell Hall 109, Ext. 4293

Course description: This course acquaints political science majors with important trends, methods, and procedures in the study of politics and in the discipline of political science. This semester we will concentrate on a number of activities and issues that occupy the attention of political scientists. We will look at values and the role they play in the "empirical" (fact-based) discipline of political science. We will look at key concepts--power, politics, etc.-- and will try to see how they work and how they can be analyzed. We will explore career options open to the political scientist and prepare a resume and a personal statement of career interests. Later, we will examine some different methods for the study of politics and different areas of the discipline. These will be illustrated with presentations by political science faculty members who will discuss their approach to political science and their own research interests. We conclude with a look at the importance of politics and research for real people.

In order to do all of the above, each part of the course will explore a series of concepts, engage in activities designed to reinforce those concepts, and produce an assignment in which you have do demonstrate your understanding of the concepts discussed and your mastery of the activities assigned.

The course will rely heavily on Blackboard for assignments, communication, etc. Every Le Moyne student has a Blackboard account assigned to him or her. Here are a couple of suggestions:

· You MUST access your Blackboard account as soon as possible because almost all important course materials will be posted on Blackboard and only on Blackboard.The best thing to do is to use the Le Moyne email account on Blackboard--it is set as your default. But if you are stubborn and don't check it often then here are some instructions:

Be sure that the e-mail address listed for your blackboard account is the ONE YOU USE! Do that by going to the Personal Information section and entering the proper e-mail account. Be sure to then open your e-mail to"view" in the Set Privacy section.


· If your e-mail is a hotmail account, you may have some trouble getting emails from blackboard and if you use AOL the browser will not support Blackboard. If either of these is the case go this site and find the tips and hints section. That will give you a way to fix what can be fixed.

· If you use hotmail, AOL, or another e-mail as your primary account, you should have all mail forwarded from your Le Moyne account to your primary one. Do this by following these steps

To Access library materials from an off campus computer, you must set your proxy-server. If you don't do this you can't get full text versions of articles except on Le Moyne comupters.

Specific topics to be discussed in class will be found on this syllabus . Deadlines for papers are also available here (Due dates are marked in red). No extensions will be given without prior authorization and approval.



Knowledge, politics,and values Scenario Essay (not graded)
Power and politics Budget simulation Observer essay (20%)
Knowledge and methodology Lectures, discussion Comparative essay on John Foster Dulles (20%)
. Faculty approaches to Political Science and their values Presentations by faculty members Essay on values (15%)
Careers in Political Science Discuss careers-career services presentation Resume (10%) Personal Statement (10%)
Knowledge, values
and Public Policy
read discuss Mismeasure of Man book review (20%)


Because this class is based upon experiential learning, YOU MUST ATTEND CLASS. I will be taking attendance and more than five unexcused absences will result in a reduction in the final grade. Class participation is worth 5% of the final grade.

There is only one book for the course, The Mismeasure of Man, by the late biologist Steven Jay Gould . Other readings will be assigned during the the semester and are either to be found in this syllabus, the External Links section of Blackboard, or will be handed out in class.


Course Outline*:

August 27: Introduction and Overview

Scenario distributed

August 29: Why study politics--written scenario due and submitted by Drop Box in Blackboard

We will discuss the your scenarios, the purpose of studying politics, and the fact/value distinction.

Powerpoint on facts/values:
Powerpoint on why we study politics

Wouldn't these folks love to get your theory?

September 3: Politics and power

Discuss the meaning of politics and its relation to power. Begin to develop typology of power.
Powerpoint on power:
Robert Dahl, "The Concept of Power" Behavioral Science Vol.II, July 1957.

September 5: More politics and power-simulation roles discussed

Peter Bachrach, Morton S. Baratz The Two Faces of Power," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 56, No. 4. (Dec., 1962), pp. 947-952.

Simulation Roles: One of the roles played by political scientists is that of "Participant/Observers." In this role, we both act in and observe the world of politics as it unfolds around us. Inspect the rules of the scenario.

Select three roles you would like to play and fill out the following form:

Senator from New York

Senator from Georgia

Senator from Utah

Senator from Mass.

Senator from Washington

Health Interest group

Education Interest group

Foreign Aid Interest group

Defense Interest group



September 10: Final discussion of power and the roles to be played are announced.
"Power" handout

September 12: Prepare for simulation-consult with Boyd

September 17: Budget simulation-foreign aid, health

September 19: Simulation-education, defense

September 24: Senators announce the results of their deliberations.

Discuss and debrief. What instances of power did you see?

September 26: No class. View webcast of John Esposito and write about it.


October 1: Traditionalism-Power paper due
Power point on behavioralism:

Townsend Hoopes, "God and John Foster Dulles" handout
Mythistory, or Truth, Myth, History, and Historians William H. McNeill The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 1, Supplement to Volume 91. (Feb., 1986), pp. 1-10.

October 3: Behavioralism

The Belief System and National Images: A Case Study Ole R. Holsti The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 6, No. 3, Case Studies in Conflict. (Sep., 1962), pp. 244-252.
Stable URL:

"The Behavioral Approach in Political Science: Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest" Robert A. Dahl, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 55, No. 4. (Dec., 1961), pp. 763-772.

October 8; Behavioralism/post behavioralism

The New Revolution in Political Science David Easton The American Political Science Review, Vol. 63, No. 4. (Dec., 1969), pp. 1051-1061.

October 10: Areas of Political Science

October 15: Off, Columbus Day

October 17: More on areas-Holsti vs Hoopes paper due.

October 22: Dr. Bruce Shefrin

October 24: Dr. Susan Behuniak

October 29: Dr. John Freie

October 31: Dr. James Harrigan

November 5: Dr. Barron Boyd

November 7: Mr. Charles Pulver

November 12: Careers in Political Science

Read the Pamphlet from the American Political Science Association

For some real world jobs look here or here for the APSA job site

Le Moyne career services data on political science

November 14: More careers

November 19:Resume Writing-- Faculty values paper due.

November 21:Personal Statements

November 26: Discuss Mismeasure of Man

December 3: Mismeasure discussion continues. Resume and Statement due

What does this tell us about the relationship between facts, science, values, and real life?

December 5: Review Session

Gould paper due Tuesday, December 17th at noon