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Department of Politics



Dr. Robert W. Sutherland, Instructor

Assignments are subject to change, so the online syllabus is the only definitive version. Changes in reading assignments will not be made within 24 hours immediately preceding class meetings. For your convenience in printing, a PDF file link follows: Printer Friendly Please do not neglect to consult the online syllabus frequently for changes!!

HOW TO REACH THE INSTRUCTOR: My office is South 304; my extension is 4226. The best time to see me for a brief conversation is immediately before class. Other times are available by appointment arranged before and after class or by e-mail. I rarely check my voice mail and often forward my calls to the South Hall Faculty Secretary, so a prompt response from me is best gained by e-mail.

CLASS MEETINGS: 9:30 am daily in 300 South, except for the 1st day, 15th day, and last two days. See the schedule below. For the first day, class will meet twice, 9am and 2pm.

TEXTS: J. Martin Rochester, Between Peril and Promise: the Politics of International Law. CQPress and Jeremy A. Rabkin, Law Without Nations? Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereignty. Princeton University Press.


  • PAPER & PRESENTATION-45% (Paper-30%; Presentation-15%)
  • EXAM & CLASSWORK: 55% (Exam-40%; Classwork-15%) Classwork may not be made up, except for documented (e.g. trauma center registration) emergencies. Both the final exam and the final paper remain with me for future reference in revising and improving the course. They can be picked up at my office immediately after Politics 351 is offered again.
  • Portions of the Catalog on adding and dropping courses and portions of the Compass on dishonesty in academic work are incorporated here by reference. A discount of 5% per hour will be applied to the grades of late papers, except for documented emergencies. The grading scale for the course is A = 1750-2000, A- = 1650-1749, B+ = 1550-1649, B = 1450-1549, B- = 1350-1449, C+ = 1250-1349, C = 1150-1249, C- = 1050-1149, D+ = 950-1049, D = 850-949, D- = 750-849, F = 000-749. The number of points possible on any given exam or paper can be calculated by multiplying 20 points (A++) by the value (a percentage) of the exam or paper in determining the final grade. For letter grade equivalents, multiply the percentage times: 18 = A, 17 = A-, 16 = B+, 15 = B, 14 = B-, 13 = C+, 12 = C, 11 = C-, 10 = D+, 9 = D, 8 = D-.
  • Accomodating disabilities

ASSIGNMENTS--To be done before class on the day indicated:
Wk DAY TIME READING Leader/Presenter
9:30 Rochester, pp. 1-31 Sullivan
9:30 Rochester, pp. 32-74 Lotspeich
9:30 Rochester, pp. 75-138 Tammone/Saunders
9:30 Rochester, pp. 139-180 Squier/Wondra
9:30 Rochester, pp. 181-198  
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 1-44  
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 45-97 Fricke
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 98-157 Knudsen
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 158-192 Tinney
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 193-232 Fuller
9:30 Rabkin, pp. 233-270; UN Articles distributed in class Lotspeich/Sullivan
9:30 Oral Presentations Fricke/Tammone/Tinney
9:30 Oral Presentations /Fuller/Saunders/Knudsen
5:00 Optional Draft of Paper Due; No Class  
9:30 Oral Presentations Squier/Wondra
8:00   Final Exam
NOON Paper Copy Only Paper Due


Topic selection in the first week is crucial for success in paper development and performance. The earlier you define an area of interest the sooner you can designate a topic. Areas of interest include the main subjects addressed by Rochester and Rabkin. See for example their discussion of international law as it relates to commerce and trade, human rights, war and peace, various international organizations, including various international judicial bodies, or national courts seeming to act in their stead in particular cases, as in Pinochet's case. Areas of interest that are more conceptual or philosophical rather than institutional include the paradigms, realism and idealism, or key concepts like sovereignty and constitutionalism. These areas of interest cannot be well developed in a 20 page paper, so the topic will need to be much more specific than the area of interest to which you are initially drawn. For example, commerce and trade is an area of interest BUT how much authority an American president is to have in shaping future trade agreements that require Congressional approval is a topic. The admission of Russia to the World Trade Organization is also a topic. See me for help.

Each student will be responsible for one formal, oral presentation (15%) during the term to give the class the benefit of your topic research. Also, each student will be responsible for at least one less formal discussion (see classwork below) of a reading assignment. Grades on oral work are determined by performance in content and style. Strength in content depends on a clear presentation of main ideas, careful subordination of explanation and examples, and close attention to logical transition. Elements of style include skill in referring to notes (do not read a prepared text), in managing the time available (consult the instructor), in oral expression (watch rate of speed in speaking), in eye contact, and in variety of emphasis. The content and scheduling of presentations depends heavily on student initiative.


Each class will be led by a different student who will be responsible for assisting the rest of the class members in learning the material assigned for the day. Fifteen percent of the final grade of the person responsible is determined by how effectively the material assigned for the day is covered in class. The material should be related to the area or areas of interest picked by the person responsible in the course of selecting a topic. Since a number of people may be drawn to the same interest, the leader for the day in a popular area like human rights or war and peace, may take a team approach to learning by involving several class members and a more structured discussion. Underlying all these options for learning are the same basic requirements for mastering the material. Most of the grade for the day earned by the student responsible will be determined by how well these requirements are met. Identifying clearly and developing in some detail what is to be learned from the assignment is the most important requirement. Discussion should begin and end with a summary of what class members are expected to know and opportunities to return to these lessons should not be missed in later classes. Another important requirement is to advance key concepts as the course moves through various areas of interest. So, for example, the paradigms of understanding international law, e.g. realism and idealism, are often the foundations of debate in an area of interest like human rights or war and peace. The person responsible must insure that these, and other key concepts, are highlighted and developed in the course of class discussion. Of less importance, but still indispensible, is the task of keeping track of technical terms, particularly important cases, and acronyms.


The final exam will be comprehensive and taken in three parts. The first part is an out of class essay (15% of the final grade) that is due at the beginning of the in class parts of the exam on the final Tuesday. The topic of the essay, and other details, will be explained in the third week of the course. Most of the in class exam (15%) will be short essay and/or short answer questions based on the learning objectives in each reading assignment and class discussion. Some of the exam (10%) will cover technical terms, cases, and acronyms.

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