Work and Policies


There are no exams.

Coursework will be weighted as follows:
1. Classroom Engagement: 15 pts.
2. Online Journal: 25 pts.
3. Research Paper: 60 pts.
Total: 100 pts.

The Grading Scale
I will be using the following grading scale in this course:

98-100 A+
94-97 A
90-93 A-
87-89 B+
84-86 B
80-83 B-
77-79 C+
74-76 C
70 – 73 C-
69/below D
59/below F

Note on Late Assignments:
Late assignments will be graded down 5 percent for each day late, to a maximum of 50% off the credit for the assignment. No matter how late an assignment is, it will always be worth submitting (you can always get up to 50% credit).

1. Classroom Engagement: Participation and Attendance (15%)

Purpose:  To make the course a more enjoyable and enriching experience for everyone; To be certain that you are engaging course material

This course requires not only attendance but also active participation. This entails doing the readings before class, thinking critically about them and the topics we are discussing. Active participation can significantly help your grade in the course, non-participation can significantly lower your grade, and non-attendance WILL significantly lower your grade.

Attendance and active participation

  1. You must attend class. Think of it as if you are a pilot learning to fly. You have to put in a number of hours in the cockpit to qualify.
  2. You must be active in class. This can take a variety of forms, including: speaking in class, asking questions, emailing me questions, and extra participation on the course blog.
  3. You can miss two classes without any serious consequence. If you miss more than 5 classes you will receive no participation credit.
  4. You must meet me at my office hours at least once.

2. Online Journal: Country Journals, News and Reading Posts (25%)

Purpose:  a substitute for exams; a means for students to engage and critically reflect on course material; an incentive for students to stay on track with course readings and material; a means of informing the professor of what students find interesting (or not) within the course material; a means for students to communicate with each other about the course material.

  1. Sign-in using your name so that I can recognize who is posting
  2. The prompts for the country posts are provided on the schedule page.
  3. “Tag” your posts using the appropriate categories
  4. Your posts are due the MIDNIGHT PRIOR to class.

A. Country Posts (7)

You will develop a country expertise. At the beginning of the course you will be assigned a country in Africa. For that country, you will be asked to keep an online journal in which you will react to the topic and readings we are covering in a given week as it relates to your country. You will also be asked to write about current events in your country. So, for instance, if we are covering the impact of colonialism on Sub-Saharan Africa, you will be asked to write an analysis of how colonialism has affected your country. The specific topics for you to address will be under each section in the syllabus. Likewise, you will be called upon in class to provide input on these topics as it relates to your country. You will become the class expert for your country. You will post these journal items in a course blog that we all share.

  1. There will be 7 country posts.
  2. Add the category “Countries” to the post
  3. It is better to provide specific examples than to cover many subjects in broad terms.
  4. The topics are provided on the schedule course page, listed on the day they are due.
  5. LENGTH OF EACH POST: 500 words.

B. Reading Posts (1)

You must comment on readings for ONE day of class.  It can be any day of the term. It may overlap with other students. Your comments should be original reflections on and/or critiques of the readings, not summaries.

  1. There will be 1 reading post.
  2. Add the category “Readings” to the post
  3. LENGTH OF EACH POST: 500 words.

C. News Posts (1)

You must write ONE post which includes links to news items that are relevant to the course.

  1. There will be 1 news post.
  2. Add the category “News” to the post
  3. LENGTH OF EACH POST: could be 1 line, could be 300 lines.

D. Assessment

The country journal and reading posts will be assessed as a whole at the end of the semester. However, at mid-semester I will provide a provisional grade on the body of your journal posts up to that point in time. The news post will simply be assessed on the basis of whether or not it was completed.

General Criteria for the Country Journal and Reading Posts:

A: Excellent in all or nearly all aspects. Posts are marked by creativity and originality. The interest of the reader is engaged by the ideas and presentation. Reading posts do not summarize. Country posts demonstrate some level of research that goes beyond the material provided in class. (Note: I do not expect extensive research, but I do expect a moderate degree of research that goes beyond Wikepedia.) All posts consistently meet this criteria.

B: A “B- range” grade may indicate that not all posts consistently met the criteria for an “A”. Or, that the posts were consistently below the “A” level. Such posts may be technically competent with occasional lapses. You are either significantly over OR under the word limit on a regular basis.

C: A “C-range” grade indicates that many or all posts did not meet the criteria for an “A”. These may be competent posts, but are obvious. The reading post may largely summarize, rather than evaluate, reflect, or critique the readings. The country posts may never use outside sources. Writing may be sloppy.


3. Research Project (60%)

Purpose: to encourage critical thinking about a focused research question; to encourage practice at social science research; to further develop writing skills; to encourage practice at working with groups; an opportunity for students to be teachers to each other; an opportunity for students to express themselves creatively; to allow students to do deeper research on an aspect of international relations they find interesting; an opportunity for students to improve on public speaking skills


Policies: Class Protocol

  1. I reserve the right to make new rules and changes to the course.
  2. Class will start on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late you will be marked as absent.
  3. No talking during class, no reading material during class, and no inappropriate use of electronic equipment (cell phones, laptops, etc.) during class.
  4. Use of laptops in class is a privilege. I reserve the right to ban them at any time.
  5. Diversity in discussion. Throughout the course of the semester, we will be addressing a variety of issues on which people will have strong and diverse opinions. It is critical that we respect one another’s thoughts, and address our comments at the ideas, not the person. Our class is not a forum for demeaning or threatening language
  6. Academic Integrity.

    1. I assume all assignments and activities in the class are governed by the university’s honor code which I regard to be unnecessary to state (come on, this is common sense!), but which I will for legal reasons.
    2. Plagiarism and Cheating. Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. I feel especially strong about this when it comes to student writing. Please note that the consequences for any kind of cheating or plagiarism can result in an “F” for the class and possibly other actions by the university.
    3. Wesleyan’s policies can be found online at:
    4. If you have any questions about the appropriate way to use or cite a source, please do not hesitate to ask me before you hand in your paper.

Disability-Related Accommodations

It is the policy of Wesleyan University to provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Students, however, are responsible for registering with Disabilities Services, in addition to making requests know to me in a timely manner.If you require accommodations in this class, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. The procedures for registering with Disabilities Services can be found at