POL 333: Introduction to Western Europe (Syllabus)

Course Description

This course is designed to familiarize you with the politics of Western Europe since World War II, not on a country-by-country basis, but in a truly comparative way that emphasizes the political determinants and consequences of institutional differences. The fundamental goal of this course is to question how institutions, parties, and governments influence the politics of representation in Europe. In this context, we will explore several issues. Most prominent among them will be: the making of the modern European state; the political economy of Europe; parties, party systems, and social cleavages; elections and electoral systems; the nature of governments and policy making; the origins, institutions, and policies of the European Union; and the challenges facing Europe today. The course is divided thematically into three sections: 1) domestic political institutions, 2) the political economy of Europe, and 3) the process and politics of European integration. We will complement our analysis of political themes with more in-depth readings on the politics of specific countries. Throughout the course, you will become acquainted with the politics of France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Student Learning Goals and Objectives

This course is structured to achieve the student learning outcomes endorsed by the Department of Political Science at Miami University.

  • Students will define and explain key concepts, theories, and approaches in political science, specifically in the sub-discipline of comparative political science. This will be achieved through class discussion and debate, the short essay and paper, exams, and the Friday News Roundups.
  • Students will develop and demonstrate skill in evidence-based reasoning. This will be achieved through various course activities, primarily through the welfare state paper and role-playing simulations. These tasks will provide opportunities for students to learn how to identify the appropriate data and evidence necessary to construct a convincing argument and how to communicate that argument to various audiences.
  • Students will be able to identify the appropriate methodology, design, and analysis for a given problem and understand the ethical components of their research choices. This will be achieved primarily through the short essay and paper as well as through the in-class debates and simulations.
  • Students will be able to apply political science knowledge to contemporary political issues and problems and be able to identify and to evaluate alternative political science-based solutions. This will be achieved particularly through the Friday News Roundups, role-playing simulations, and class debates.
  • Students will be able to formulate, propose, and advocate possibilities for positive change in a democratic society as engaged and informed citizens. This is what this course is all about!

POL 333W also coincides with the Miami Plan for Liberal Education. It promotes the goals of developing a critical analytic mind and the ability to reflect and act by encouraging students to be culturally sensitive and to understand and place themselves into myriad streams of political events taking place around the world. Students will often be confronted with competing perspectives and asked to reflect and react in a reasoned and respective manner, even when they might not agree. The course provides a variety of mechanisms for students to engage with other learners. In particular, op-ed articles and responses, role-playing simulations, and classroom debates invite students to engage others’ ideas, points of views, and questions. The role of the professor in the course is to facilitate this range of student activity and to lead the discussions concerning the readings and assignments.

POL 333W is a writing enhancement course, meaning that you will write a lot! Throughout the semester, you will explore major themes in European politics and analyze several case studies. As this is a writing-intensive course, it offers ample opportunities for you to hone your writing skills through writing activities geared toward general and specific audiences. Writing improvement will be key, so you can expect to receive regular feedback from the instructor and fellow students.

Required Readings

The majority of readings for this course will be available via the Canvs portal. We will be using a number of chapters from Representative Government in Modern Europe (5th ed.) as well as readings from other scholarly sources. The titles and page assignments for these readings are listed in the schedule below (designated by C). I reserve the right to change/add/subtract materials throughout the semester. As we will be discussing these texts in class, you are required to bring hard copies of the readings to class.

There is one required book that we will use toward the end of the course. You can purchase it at Student Stores or online via Amazon.

  • Buruma, Ian. 2007. Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance Penguin. ISBN:0143112368

Being informed about what is going on in the world is always a good idea, and it is particularly important for the purposes of this course. Keeping up with European events will enhance the quality of our discussions as we incorporate the material and the theories that we are learning with what we see and read in the news. Each week I will distribute links to news articles via Twitter. If you do not already have a Twitter account or would like to set up a new account specifically for this course, go to Twitter for instructions on how to get started. Some of the articles will be required and fair game for the Thursday News Roundup (designated by RE), while others will be simply for your reading pleasure.

In addition to following the course on Twitter, I highly recommend spending a little time each day checking the international news on your own. Listed below are some of the news sources I like to use to stay abreast of events in Europe.

  • The Financial Times (British daily newspaper with quality information on Europe)
  • The Economist (weekly British news magazine with a good comparative perspective)
  • The Guardian (British newspaper with a weekly European edition containing extracts from a number of continental European newspapers)
  • Der Spiegel (popular German news magazine with online content available in English)
  • The European Voice (useful source for EU news)
  • The New York Times (decent coverage of European events)
  • I also recommend that you listen to the following NRP programs: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Diane Rehm’s Friday News Roundup: International Hour.

Course Expectations and Student Responsibilities

Attendance Policy

I value attendance and therefore expect yours to be regular. Attendance at lectures, video screenings, and class exercises is required and absences will adversely affect your participation grade as well as your overall performance in the course. Attendance will be recorded daily.

Miami University requires that students attend all regularly scheduled class sessions. The exception to Miami's full-attendance policy is as follows:

There are no University-recognized excused absences except for religious observances that require absence from a class session and other required class activities. Students must give written notification to their instructor within the first two weeks of class of the religious event which prohibits class attendance, and the date that will be missed, if officially known. Instructors will, without prejudice, provide such students with reasonable accommodations for completing missed work. However, the students are ultimately responsible for material covered in class, regardless of whether the student is absent or present.

Beyond this, I give you two “free” absences for which I ask no questions. Missing more than two classes without a legitimate excuse approved by me will reduce your final semester grade by 1/2 letter grade per absence. Missing more than four classes without a legitimate excuse approved by me will result in you being dropped from the course. Legitimate excuses include serious medical emergencies or University activitiesand must be supported by documentation. They do not include work commitments or early departures for university breaks.

Attendance is only one component of successful participation. Reading the required material, an average of 20-30 pages per session, prior to the lecture is essential, as this will enable you to participate fully in class activities and discussions. Consider falling behind with the readings to be the kiss of death in this course!

Academic Integrity Policy

Students should be aware that I take academic integrity seriously. Cheating, plagiarism, and any form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be grounds for receiving a grade of Withdrawal Academic Dishonesty (W(AD)). The University policy on academic integrity and the repercussions for violating it can be found in the Miami Student Handbook (Chapter 5).

Disability Resources

I welcome requests and am more than willing to work with students who may need academic accommodations due to a disability. Please contact me as soon as possible if you have any disability or concern. You should also refer the Office of Learning Assistance and/or the Office of Disability Services to learn about the resources available to you.

Sexual Assault

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find the appropriate resources here. Miami's Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Student Sexual Assault and Harassment is Ms. Rebecca Getson. You can contact the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Student Sexual Assault by phone at 529-1870 or by email at getsonra@miamioh.edu.

For a full description of support services, see Title IX Protocol and the Office of Equity & Equal Opportunity.

Course Requirements

Part of my job as your instructor is to spark and expand your interest in comparative politics, to uncover the connections between politics and your life, and to help you hone your writing skills. I will do my best to fulfill my side of the bargain, but for the class to be successful and fun for all of us, you must keep up your part of the bargain as well. This means that you must complete the following tasks:

Map Quiz (5%)

Since we will be spending a semester leaning and talking about Europe, we should probably know where the various countries of Europe are located. To this end, the first graded assignment of the course will be a Map Quiz covering the 28 EU member states. The quiz will take place at the beginning of class on September 3. Further details about the quiz and study aids are provided on Canvas.

Short Essay (15%)

The Short Essay (~1000 words) coincides with the first portion of the course dealing with domestic political institutions and is due on October 6. You will examine two recent parliamentary elections in European countries. Engaging with the course material on elections, voting, and political parties will provide you with the necessary background information on the role of electoral rules, the general ideological orientation of parties, trends in voting across Europe, etc. For information on the specific elections, you will need to consult the Election Notes published regularly in Electoral Studies and to conduct your own internet research. Detailed instructions for the Short Essay as well as Election Notes are posted on Canvas (Assignments > Short Essay).

Midterm Exam (15%)

The midterm exam takes place on October 13 and includes two parts: a take-home component consisting of two short essays on set topics and an in-class component consisting of identification and short answer questions covering the readings, lectures, and class discussions from Weeks 1-7. I will provide a study guide on Canvas (Assignments > Exams) two weeks prior to the exam, and I will offer an optional review session.

Welfare State Paper (30%)

The Welfare State Paper (~2000 words) follows the second part of the course focusing on the political economy and social policy of various European countries and is due by 11:59 p.m. on November 24. Why do we focus on domestic politics – on employment, growth, security, poverty, and redistribution...because it is these policies that concern the average citizens in Europe as well as the US, and it is on these issues that most elections are fought and won or lost. The first step to understanding domestic politics is descriptive, focusing on the policies adopted in particular countries and on overarching political systems. The second step moves beyond the descriptive to an understanding of the causes of differences between countries in their policy patterns. This second step forms the crux of the paper assignment and requires you to think like a social scientist. The main explanations for the differences in economic and social policies lie in the characteristics of the political system. Specifically, countries vary in their policy patterns according to: differences in the strength of political parties of various political orientations; differences in the strength and structure of various interest groups, and differences in the constitutional rules of the game. Following the section of the course covering varieties of capitalism and welfare states, we will conduct a class exercise on comparative social policy. During this exercise, you will engage in comparative analysis and use quantitative data to identify patterns and develop scientific generalizations. The exercise is designed to provide the jumping off point for your more developed paper on comparative social policy. Detailed instructions of the class exercise and the paper will be posted on Canvas.

Oxford-Style Debates (10%)

We will hold three Oxford-Style Debates during the course of the semester. You will select your debate topic (but not your side!) during the second week of classes. The debates will take place on October 29, November 19, and December 10. Participation in all debates is MANDATORY.

Final Exam (10%)

The final exam for the course takes place on December 10 at 12:45 p.m. The exam follows an unconventional pattern. The first hour of the exam comprises a written exam consisting of identification and short answer questions covering the readings, lectures, and class discussions from Weeks 8-15. I will provide a study guide for the written portion two weeks prior to the exam. During the second hour of the exam, we will hold our last Oxford Style debate.

Participation (15%)

Political science is a discipline that lends itself to discussion and debate. Exchanging in a political dialogue is a great way to absorb a working knowledge of political concepts and ideas and to develop your thoughts in response to the material covered in class. Often you will find that your classmates have a different perspective and raise good questions about your views or add further insights to your ideas. You have a lot to learn from each other. I know that I find my own continued study enriched by hearing your ideas and perspectives, and so I am sure that you can learn as much from each other as I learn from all of you.

Class participation will play an integral role in this course. Participation includes both venturing forth with your own ideas and questions and listening attentively to each other. A person who seldom speaks but listens intently and takes notes is participating as fully as one who speaks frequently and thoughtfully. In guiding discussions, I seldom impose the strict control required to ensure that everyone in class speaks equally because I respect the fact that different people have different preferences for how they participate in class discussions. I do impose the mild control of giving preference to new voices when I can tell that someone who has not spoken much wants to speak. And I very much encourage those who feel shy about speaking to practice speaking up because it is a liberation to find one’s voice in discussion. I promise to do my best to keep the classroom a safe place to share ideas, even tentative, uncertain ideas! In the same spirit, I encourage those who find themselves speaking a lot to use their high level of social comfort well – you who are most vocal do much to shape the atmosphere of discussion, so work to make that atmosphere one that is warm and inviting. There are gentle ways that those who are vocal can try to make space and draw in those who are quiet. The quiet students appreciate when the outspoken folks take an interest in hearing their thoughts!

In discussions, making connections – with the readings, with topics discussed in previous classes, and with the comments that others have made in class – is particularly helpful to you and to everyone else. Therefore, making connections is especially noted and appreciated.

A Note about Writing Assignments

Writing is an art (and thankfully something that can be improved and developed over time). I expect your writing assignments to be clearly argued and organized. Your submissions should have an introduction that includes a thesis statement, followed by clear and methodical development of the thesis, ending with a conclusion summarizing the main argument of the essay or paper. These assignments are not creative writing exercises, rather as most technical writing are, they are a method to convey to me knowledge and insights that you have gained from the readings, lectures, and your own research. If you have never been in a technical writing situation before, let me know, and I will provide you with materials that will make the new task easier. I have developed a handout on General Tips for Good Social Science Writing and a Paper Rubric, both of which are available on Canvas (Assignments > Writing Aids). There are also numerous resources available at Miami University, several of which we will explore together throughout the semester.

Extra Credit

Miami University is a vibrant campus. Rest assured that there will be numerous opportunities for extra credit throughout the semester. I will announce details via Canvas and email.

Technology in the Classroom

Though technology will play a key role in this course, laptops and mobile phones will not have free reign!! Here are a few ground rules:

  • Laptops are not permitted in lecture unless permission is granted by me for specified in-class assignments.
  • Laptops should only be used to take notes or to complete instructor assigned tasks. I run a “two strikes you’re out” policy regarding laptop abuse in class. This means that if you are caught abusing laptop privileges more than twice, you will no longer be able to use your laptop in class and your participation grade will be reduced by two points.
  • Everyone has a mobile phone these days. They should be kept out of sight and out of mind during our class periods. Phones should be kept on silent and in your bag, backpack, purse, etc. The “two strikes you’re out” policy described above also applies to phones.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Does Europe Still Matter? (August 25, 77)

Introduction and Organization (Tuesday 8/25)

  • No reading assignment. We will review the syllabus and complete the student questionnaire in class. Both are available via the Canvas portal but hard copies will also be distributed during class.

Welcome to Europe (Thursday 8/27)

  • No reading assignment.

Week 2: (September 1, 3)

Welcome to Europe I (Tuesday 9/1)

  • Crepaz, M. & J. Steiner. 2013. Ch. 1, “Becoming Modern in Europe and America.” European Democracies, 8th ed. NY: Pearson, 1-16.
  • Moravscik, A. 2010. “Europe, the Second Superpower.” Current History 109: 91-98.
  • “Why is Europe, not China or India, the Second Superpower of the 21st Century?” Radio Interview with Andrew Moravscik on WILL/Illinois Public Radio (27 January 2010).

Parliamentary versus Presidential Democracy (Thursday 9/3)

  • GLM, Ch. 2, The Executive (pp. 23-46)
  • Next Assignment: Map Quiz on TUESDAY. Study materials provided on Canvas.

Week 3: (September 8, 10)

Legislatures (Tuesday 9/8)

  • GLM, Ch. 3, Parliaments (pp. 47-78)

Electoral Systems (Thursday 9/10)

  • GLM, Ch. 11, Elections, Electoral Systems, and Referendums (pp.366-406)
  • Notes on Elections in Electoral Studies’ [C] (Choose one country from Group A and one from Group B to review; they should be the ones you select for your short essay so review those guidelines before selecting your countries)
    • Group A: Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom
    • Group B: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland
  • Recommended reading:
    • GLM, Ch. 7, Patterns in Party Politics and Party Systems (pp. 195-234)

Week 4: (September 15, 17)

Electoral Systems /The Power of Referenda (Tuesday 9/15)

  • Review: GLM, Ch. 11, Elections, Electoral Systems, and Referendums (pp. 366-406)
  • Selected news articles

Traditional Party Politics (Thursday 9/17)

  • GLM, Ch. 8, Party Families (pp. 238-75)
  • GLM, remainder of Ch. 9, Cleavage Structures and Electoral Change (pp. 278-321)
  • “There's a Word for That.” The Economist (6 November 2004)

Week 5: (September 22, 24)

Voting in Europe (Tuesday 9/22)

  • Dalton, R. 2011. Ch. 8 “The Social Bases of Party Support.” In Citizen Politics. 5th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 143-69.
  • Inglehart, R. 2008. “Changing Values among Western Publics 1970-2006.” West European Politics 31: 130-46.

Electoral and Party System Change (Thursday 9/24)

  • Review GLM, Ch. 9, Cleavage Structures and Electoral Change (pp. 292-321)
  • Mair, P. 2008. “The Challenge to Party Government.” West European Politics 31: 211-34.

Week 6: (September 29, October 1)

Governments and Coalitions (Tuesday 9/29)

Coalition Building Simulation (Thursday 10/1) [Participation MANDATORY]

  • Bring handouts distributed on Tuesday.
  • Next Assignment: Short Essay due TUESDAY October 6 by 11:59 p.m.

Week 7: (October 6, 8)

Varieties of Capitalism (Tuesday 10/6)

  • Background reading: O’Neill, P. 2013. “Political Economy.” In Essentials of Comparative Politics, 4th ed. NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 90-123.
  • Study guide on Varieties of Capitalism
  • Marzinotto, B. 2013. “Economic Governance and Varieties of Capitalism.” In Europe Today, 5th ed., eds. R. Tiersky & E. Jones. NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Recommended reading:
    • Hall, P. & D. Soskice. 2001. “An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism.” In Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Advantages of Comparative Advantage, eds. P. Hall & D. Soskice. NY: OUP.

Varieties of Capitalism and Social Inequality (Thursday 10/8)

  • OECD 2012, “Inequality in labour income – What are its drivers and how can it be reduced?” OECD Economics Department Policy Notes, No. 8. January 2012. (Group 1)
  • OECD 2012, “Income inequality and growth: The role of taxes and transfers”, OECD Economics Department Policy Notes, No. 9. January 2012. (Group 2)

Week 8: (October 13, 15)

Midterm Exam (Tuesday 10/13)

Healthcare Systems Compared (Thursday 10/15)

  • In-class activity: Film: Sick Around the World

Week 9 (October 20, 22)

The European Welfare State (Tuesday 10/20)

  • Esping-Anderson, G. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton: Princeton UP, 9-34.
  • Recommended reading:
    • Ferrera, M. 1996. “The ‘Southern Model’ of Welfare in Social Europe,” Journal of European Social Policy 6, 1: 17-37.

New Social Risks and Europe’s Social Investment Strategy (Thursday 10/22)

  • Esping-Andersen, G. 1999. Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. NY: Oxford UP, 1-14 (Introduction).
  • Esping-Andersen, G. 2002. “Towards the Good Society, Once Again?” In Why We Need a New Welfare State, eds. G. Esping-Andersen et al. NY: Oxford UP, 1-25.
  • Recommended reading:
    • Esping-Andersen, G. 2002. “A Child-Centered Social Investment Strategy.” In Why We Need a New Welfare State, eds. G. Esping-Andersen et al. NY: Oxford UP, 26-67. [C]
    • **Start reading Buruma, I. 2007, Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance NY: Penguin**

Week 10: (October 27, 29)

Class Exercise on Social Policy (Tuesday 10/27) [Participation MANDATORY]

  • Review previous readings on the welfare state.
  • Bring handout and spreadsheets for the social policy exercise as well as your computers to class.

Oxford-Style Debate I (Thursday 10/29)

Week 11: (November 3, 5)

Visions of Europe (Tuesday 11/3)

  • McCormick, J. 2014. Ch. 3, “What is the European Union?” Understanding the European Union. 6th ed. NY: Palgrave, 47-71. [C]
  • Selections from Nelson & Stubb, eds. 2003. The European Union: Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration. 3rd ed. Boulder: Lynne Riener Publishers. [C]
    • Winston S. Churchill. “The Tragedy of Europe.” (pp. 7-12)
    • Jean Monnet. “A Ferment of Change.” (pp. 19-26)
    • Margaret Thatcher. “A Family of Nations.” (pp. 49-54)
    • Jacques Delors. “A Necessary Union.” (pp. 55-64)
  • Recommended reading:
    • EU Guide for Americans (from the EU Delegation in Washington DC) [C]
    • “Sinews of Peace,” W. Churchill, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (March 5, 1946) [C]
    • “The Marshall Plan,” G. Marshall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (June 6, 1947) [C]

Theorizing European Integration (Thursday 11/5)

  • McCormick, J. 2014. Ch. 1, “What is the European Union?” Understanding the European Union. 6th ed. NY: Palgrave, 1-23. [C]
  • Recommended reading:
    • Selections from Nelson & Stubb, eds. 2003. The European Union: Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration. 3rd ed. Boulder: Lynne Riener Publishers. [N]
    • A. Moravcsik, “The Choice for Europe” (pp. 239-53)
    • L. Hooghe & G. Marks, “Multi-Level Governance in the European Union” (pp. 281-311).

Week 12: (November 10, 12)

The Institutional Terrain I (Tuesday 11/10)

  • McCormick, J. 2014. Ch. 4. “The European Institutions.” In Understanding the European Union. 5rd ed. NY: Palgrave, 72-95. [C]
  • “EU Institutions and Other Bodies.” Europa website

Europe’s Economic and Monetary Crisis (Thursday 11/12)

  • McCormick, J. 2014. Ch. 7. “Economic Policy.” In Understanding the European Union. 6rd ed. NY: Palgrave, 145-68. [C]
  • Verdun, A. 2013. “Economic and Monetary Union.” In European Union Politics, 4rd ed., eds. M. Cini & N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan. NY: Oxford UP, 296-308. [C]
  • Glazer, S. 2011. “Future of the Europe.” CQ Researcher. [C]
  • Berggruen, N. & N. Gardels. 2013. “The Next Europe: Towards a Federal Union.” Foreign Affairs 92(4): 134-42. [C]
  • Schwartz, H. 2012. “Euro-crisis, American lessons?” Review of International Political Economy 19(4): 701-8. [C]
  • Cohen, B. 2012. “The future of the euro: Rejoinder to Schwartz.” Review of International Political Economy 19(4): 709-10. [C]

Week 13: (November 17, 19)

Peer Review of Welfare State Papers (Tuesday 11/17)

  • In-class activity: Peer review

Oxford-Style Debate II – The End of the Eurozone? (Thursday 11/19)

Week 14: (November 24, 26)

European Stitched Back Again: European Integration in the East and West (Tuesday 11/24)

  • Juncos, A. & N Perez-Solorzano Borragan. 2013. “Enlargement.” In European Union Politics, 4rd ed., eds. M. Cini & N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan. NY: Oxford UP, 226-39. [C]
  • Moravcsik, A. & M. Vachudova. 2003. “National Interests, State Power, and EU Enlargement,” East European Politics and Society 17: 42-57. [C]
  • “In the Nick of Time: Survey of EU enlargement.” The Economist (28 May 2008). [C]
  • Recommended reading:
    • Darton, R. 1991. “The Stasi Files.” In Berlin Journal 1989-1991. NY: Norton, 129-137. [C]
    • “When East Meets West: Survey of EU enlargement.” The Economist (22 Nov 2003). [C]
    • “A Divided Union: Survey of the EU.” The Economist (23 Sept 2004). [C]

Thanksgiving Break (Thursday 11/26)

Week 15: (December 1, 3)

Immigration in Europe (Tuesday 12/1)

  • Moses, J. 2014. “Migration in Europe.” In Europe Today. 5th ed., eds. R. Tiersky & E. Jones. NY: Rowman & Littlefield. [C]
  • Mudde, C. 2013. “Three Decades of Populist Radical Right Parties in Western Europe: So What?” European Journal of Political Research 52: 1–19. [C]
  • Watch UNC Center for European Studies roundtable on “Immigration and Identity in the US and Europe”
  • Next Assignment: Murder in Amsterdam questions due TUESDAY (in-class).

Deconstructing Murder in Amsterdam (Thursday 12/3)

Final Exam: December 10, 12:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m.