Weeks of April 15-19 & April 22-26

After wrapping up the People’s Republic of China EXAM on Wednesday, April 17, we begin our inquiry into the UNITED MEXICAN STATES.


To begin the Unit, Mr. Cameron will lecture on the Making of the Modern Mexican State.  Into the following week he will address Mexican Political Institutions and Mexican Citizens, Society, and the State.

DUE MONDAY, April 22: 


Student Presentations on Wednesday, April 24:

Socratic Seminar on Thursday, April 25:


To continue the topic of violence and extend it to the contest for public office in Mexico, we should note the 1994 assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio as well as a longitudinal tracking of assassinations of candidates to Mexico’s public offices.  What correlations can you draw between your work with understanding how Mexico compares with Russia’s electoral systems and party systems, the topics related to corruption and violence, and civil society expressed in the lead up to July’s 2018 Presidential election?  Note recent polls suggesting a tightening field of three candidates.  Finally, inquire into AS/COA’s assessment of the recent Presidential electoral field.

Thursday & Friday! April 4-5


Let’s now consider the role of geography and reactions to supranational organizations in China’s attempts to expand territorial claims in the South China Sea.  The nine-dash line is addressed in the below Vox video, as well as in Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris’ War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft (ed. 2017); pages 111-120 address China’s commerce and transportation aspirations from the South China Sea to the broader Indian Ocean Basin.

Cole Gonzales c’o’ ’18 mentioned the fact that the official SDA daily planner has a map with the 9-dash line. ???  The actions of the Chinese state should be geographically contextualized:

How will China engage a wider network, the BRI, a contemporary Silk Road (incl. Maritime networking) in the face of these geographic challenges?  Similarly, explain any connections between the 9-Dash Line and the String of Pearls Theory.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Belt combine to form the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Identify and Describe the revenue generators and regulators of the BRI in China. Compare the BRI to other (?) organizations.

One of our mini-presentations (w’ Jack & Cruz, and the Julias, Wyatt, Catalina, and Gracie) is on China’s Relations/Policies Toward Tibet.  On this topic, read Evan Osnos’: The Next Incarnation (Oct. 2010), and watch:

Looking Ahead/Spring Break HOMEWORK:

Y’all have a grip of reading on China.  Absolutely required is China’s Geopolitics – Tim Marshall (2016) and China’s Geoeconomics – R. Blackwell & J. Harris (2016).

Upon our return on Monday & Tuesday, April 15-16, we have Presentations:


Monday, April 1 thru Wed., April 5

Let’s connect what we know about the Making of the Modern Chinese State and Chinese Political Institutions to issues that face China today, specifically, the issue of the border between China and Hong Kong.

Continuing our inquiry into the People’s Republic of China regarding Chinese Political Institutions and leaders of those institutions, we should address the recent shift in China to allow for President Xi Jinping to serve indefinitely. We’ll Begin by establishing context with this BBC segment from a few months ago, and then move onto the ultra-current with this Washington Post article from late February 2018.

We moved onto the lecture on Chinese Citizens, Society, and the State.  Consider new sources of revenue generated by fusing the powers of technology and public policy.

Similarly to the revenue being generated by Desert Conversion, consider too new connections between agriculture and industry in China with Jiayang Fan’s: A Chinese Region’s Winery Boom is About More Than Just Wine (March, 2018).  Fan’s article from July of 2018 describes How E-Commerce is Transforming Rural China.

Regarding civil society and political discourse, watch “China’s Youth Breaking Through the Great Firewall.” Consider connections between any FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS & METHODS.

On the topic of state control of media, read Jinyang Fan’s Why China Cracked Down on the Social-Media Giant Bytedance from April of 2018.  Pay particular attention to the institutional shifts taking place that allow the state to further control media, and watch the following video on how China is creating an “omnipotent video surveillance network to track where people are and what they’re up to.”  On this topic, read Jianying Zha’s December, 2018 article Tourist Trap: Why China Sends Dissidents on Luxury Vacations to further consider the role of the state in dictating civil society.

HOMEWORK & Looking Ahead:

Thursday & Friday! March 28-29

Mr. Cameron will straightaway introduce our next country case study, The People’s Republic of China, w’ a lecture on the Making of the Modern Chinese State.  Early next week, Mr. Cameron will lecture content to upcoming homework regarding Chinese Political Institutions.

Be aware of the dates of your CHINA presentations:


DUE MondayConcerning the Making of the Modern Chinese State, students will watch PBS Frontline documentary: The Tank Man and respond to the associated video questions, AND complete questions from the Hauss textbook: Qs for ‘Making of the Modern Chinese State’. (Watch the Tank Man Documentary HERE.  Please note that this documentary was produced in 2008.)

DUE WednesdayAn Inquiry into the Structure of the PRC (Qs) (use the embedded sources).  Using the Structure of Chinese Gov’t cheat sheet will be handy.

Monday thru Wednesday, March 25-27

With the Russian Federation EXAM scheduled for Wednesday, Monday’s class began straightaway with reviewing the Russian Constitution and considering one of the questions asked at the end of that assignment: “Based on your knowledge of the Russian Federation, which parts of the Constitution have not been upheld under Putin?”  To unpack this question, we will read Boris Yeltsin Quietly Challenges Putin from Dec. of 2015.  We then heard our current events and public policy in the Russian Federation.  Monday and Tuesday’s classes revolved around Debating President Putin’s Reforms (here’re the student groups) and exam preparation: 25 MC Qs & 3 FRQs.  Consult your Structure of Russian Gov’t cheat sheetStudy Guide and Possible FRQs – Russia, and Russia Key Concepts and Vocabulary.

A very well-substantiated hypothesis on Putin’s Russia from August of 2016:

As we do with all of our 6 countries in Comparative Gov’t, let’s take an inquiry into socialization and separation from the State.  From December of 2017:

And from February of 2018:

Of course, recall the Presidential election outcomes of March, 2018…

Thursday thru Friday! March 21-22

After collecting and passing back work related to the making of the modern Russian state and Russian political institutions, Mr. Cameron lectured on both Russian Political Institutions and Russian Citizens, Society, and the State.  Notice the how the data seen in the last few slides of the latter lecture is a contributing factor to the argument made by this here video by the Caspian Report.  Similarly, students should read Russia Tries, Once Again, to Rein in Vodka Habit (Nov. 2009) tonight to reinforce some of the topics addressed in the video and lecture:


Monday thru Wednesday, March 18-20

Continuing our inquiry into the Russian Federation, we wrapped up the lecture on the Making of the Modern Russian State and transitioned into the lecture on Russian Political Institutions.  With this content addressed by Wednesday, students will work through Understanding the Russian Constitution.

PREPARE for next week’s Putin Debate, noting the articles for Putin debateSelections of Putin’s Legislation from the Early 2000’s, AND the readings on the Russian Federation that don’t have associated reading Qs:


Ah… LEGITIMACY… you can be reinforced in so many ways: 

Friday! March 15

With the Unit 2 EXAM on the European Union and the United Kingdom scheduled for Thursday, March 14, we’re going to hop right into our inquiry into the Russian Federation on Friday the 15th.  We’ll begin with an overview of our upcoming goals with the Putin Debate, introduce the materials contained on the “Comparative Gov’t Units” page of the course website, give students a moment to think about how they’d like to organize themselves for the Putin Debate (noting the articles for Putin debateSelections of Putin’s Legislation from the Early 2000’s, AND the readings on the Russian Federation that don’t have associated reading Qs), and transition into a lecture on Making of the Modern Russian State.


Week of March 11 – 15

Reviewing U.K. political parties a lá FRQ:

  • (a) Identify and explain the relationship between the electoral AND party system in the UK.
  • (b) Contrast the political positions that each dominant party currently holds on TWO of the following issues: integration with the European Union; devolution; the welfare state.
  • (c) For each of the two issues you chose in (b), describe a change in policy that party has made since 1991.

The remaining days of our inquiry into the United Kingdom will consist of completing the lecture on UK Citizens, Society, and the State, as well as the following student presentations:

Continuing the topic of the last student presentation – the impacts of Brexit – watch the following and read Ed Caesar’s March, 2019 New Yorker Magazine article The Chaotic Triumph of Arron Banks, the “Bad Boy of Brexit,” for an understanding of how the “Leave” campaign was surreptitiously financed.

Thursday (Pi Day) is the date of the U.K. Exam.  43 MC Qs & 2 FRQs

Want to see what’s to come for our unit on the Russian Federation?  Check the “Comparative Gov’t Units” page of the course website.  Yes, the reading load intensifies.  Get ready.  To transition between the UK and Russia, might as well addresses this unfortunately apropos current event: Britain and Russia brace for showdown as deadline expires for nerve attack explanation.

Pretty interesting that we’re discussing the challenges to the E.U. when we’re due to address the Russian Federation as our next unit.  Be sure to differentiate between normative and empirical statements made by the source/video, below.

Week of March 4 – 8

Welcome back!  (If Mr. Cameron was back from his bout with the flu, he would straightaway collect the Intro. to Advanced Democracies by Ethel Wood Reading Qs, pass back the FRQs to the Foundations of Comparative Gov’t Exam, and get straight back into the lecture An Introduction to the European Union.  He is not.  On Tuesday we might begin the lecture on Governance and Policy Making in the U.K..)

Upcoming student presentations this week and next:

Additional questions about UK institutions and policies may include: