This course will introduce students to the basic concepts and theories employed in the comparative study of politics and regimes. We will identify, compare, and analyze the core cultures, the central political actors and institutions, and the chief political processes of a small number of states. The concepts that will be explored include state and nation, regime and government, political institutions and behavior, political culture, democracy and authoritarianism, development, globalization, and violence. To the extent possible, we will focus on the countries and regions on our voyage.
Field WorkCountry: Russia
Day: 1 - St. Petersburg - Thursday, 29 August
For the field assignment for this course, the class will spend a day together in St. Petersburg, exploring the Russia of Fyodor Dostoevsky, one of Russia’s greatest writers and author of Crime and Punishment. First, we will visit Dostoevsky’s apartment, which today is a museum. Then, we will walk to the Pionerskaya Ploshscad, the site where Dostoevsky was to be executed. He was saved because just before soldiers pulled the trigger as he stood before them in the firing line a messenger arrived to say that the Tsar had a sudden desire to be merciful. Instead, Dostoevsky was sent to Siberia for a sentence of hard labor.
- The class will gain an interpretation and a picture of pre-revolutionary Russia through the writings and world of arguably Russia’s most famous and important writer.
- The class will get a look at the culture and historical and political context in which the Russian Revolution took place.
- The class will dip into Dostoevsky’s works and find relevance in what he had to say for both the Cold War era and the present twenty-first century.