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International Politics Cumulative Exercise

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Abstract:

International Politics Cumulative Exercise
Niall Michelsen

This proposal involves one particular course which has three specific features that are either original, diverges from conventional wisdom, or challenge conventional wisdom. One original feature is that the course is cumulative in that the work of students is passed on to a succeeding generation. One divergent feature is that it seeks to engage students in global issues that remain physically distant. One challenging feature is that it sets very high (nearly impossible) goals for the students.

Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester I initiated a educational exercise that is designed to evolve across iterations of the course. The course is a standard introduction to International Politics course, required for the Political Science major, and is offered every Fall semester. The average enrollment is capped at 35. The exercise was put forth in this fashion on the syllabus:

MILLENNIUM GOALS GROUP PROJECT and PRESENTATION:
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
In 2000 heads of government from around the globe assembled in order to commit themselves to addressing problems that afflict a great proportion of the world’s population. They set a date of 2015 for reaching their goals. My goal is to see that these goals are met before I retire. You are the charter class in this effort. The class will be divided into 8 groups, with each group assigned to a particular millennium goal. Each group will be responsible for writing a report on the progress that has been made since 2000 toward the targets. Each group will make a professional presentation of their report to the class near the end of the semester. Each individual will be expected to make a full contribution to the effort. Grades will be based on all three of these (quality of the report; quality of the presentation; quality of the group work). Here are the elements that will be covered:

o Scope of the Problem
o Causes of the Problem
o Progress thus far
o Who has done what and who has not
o Reasons more progress has not been achieved
o Annotated reference list for future researchers
o What next year’s class should do
The first iteration (Fall 2006) covered traditional terrain. The groups looked at the problem from a standard Political Science perspective in assessing the scope, causes, and progress. The groups all made efforts (some perfunctory) in analyzing the causes of progress and impediments to success. And the efforts to set out an agenda for the next iteration (Fall 2007) were also pretty standard.
The text that I am using for the course has many sections that deal with the changing nature of world politics in particular with the consequences of dramatic advances in information technologies. I was not surprised to see that the students in the first course did not connect those new elements of international relations with their course assignments. Instead, the students adopted traditional approaches when making recommendations for action. They tended to be tightly bound by the state-centric model of world politics which the course text was often challenging. My expectation is that this year’s class will make greater strides in this direction. My task and challenge is to urge the students in the direction without actually showing them the path. With the use of this repeated and cumulative learning exercise and the use of groups that function throughout the semester, my hope is that the students will find their way to meaningful and imaginative action that builds continuously over the years.
My approach stands in contrast to much conventional wisdom that stresses the virtues of designing active learning exercises with achievable goals. This view contends that rather than seeking to change the death penalty laws, students should be directed towards expanding recycling opportunities on campus. Pedagogical efforts to make international politics more “real” to students typically involve either role-playing and simulations (Wheeler, 2006) or tracking the international influences locally (McCartney, 2006.)
The results of this experiment are not yet in, but by February, the critical second step will be complete. The primary learning outcome that this particular feature of the course seeks is to prompt imaginative thinking among students about their relationship to the wider world, and about the connections that exist in the midst of wide global disparities.
Citations
McCartney, Alison Millett. 2006. “Making the World Real: Using a Civic Engagement Course to Bring Home Our Global Connections.” Journal of Political Science Education Vol. 2, Issue 1. 113-128.
Wheeler, Sarah M. 2006. “Role-Playing Games and Simulations for International Issues Courses.” Journal of Political Science Education Vol. 2, Issue 3. 331-347.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

year (15), mdg (13), action (10), weak (8), work (8), group (8), analysi (8), good (8), global (8), student (6), goal (6), increas (6), one (5), limit (5), exampl (5), weaker (5), school (5), class (5), 7 (5), 2 (5), farm (5),

Author's Keywords:

international relations, globalization, cumulative learning
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MLA Citation:

Michelsen, Niall. "International Politics Cumulative Exercise" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California, Feb 22, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245685_index.html>

APA Citation:

Michelsen, N. G. , 2008-02-22 "International Politics Cumulative Exercise" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245685_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: International Politics Cumulative Exercise
Niall Michelsen

This proposal involves one particular course which has three specific features that are either original, diverges from conventional wisdom, or challenge conventional wisdom. One original feature is that the course is cumulative in that the work of students is passed on to a succeeding generation. One divergent feature is that it seeks to engage students in global issues that remain physically distant. One challenging feature is that it sets very high (nearly impossible) goals for the students.

Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester I initiated a educational exercise that is designed to evolve across iterations of the course. The course is a standard introduction to International Politics course, required for the Political Science major, and is offered every Fall semester. The average enrollment is capped at 35. The exercise was put forth in this fashion on the syllabus:

MILLENNIUM GOALS GROUP PROJECT and PRESENTATION:
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
In 2000 heads of government from around the globe assembled in order to commit themselves to addressing problems that afflict a great proportion of the world’s population. They set a date of 2015 for reaching their goals. My goal is to see that these goals are met before I retire. You are the charter class in this effort. The class will be divided into 8 groups, with each group assigned to a particular millennium goal. Each group will be responsible for writing a report on the progress that has been made since 2000 toward the targets. Each group will make a professional presentation of their report to the class near the end of the semester. Each individual will be expected to make a full contribution to the effort. Grades will be based on all three of these (quality of the report; quality of the presentation; quality of the group work). Here are the elements that will be covered:

o Scope of the Problem
o Causes of the Problem
o Progress thus far
o Who has done what and who has not
o Reasons more progress has not been achieved
o Annotated reference list for future researchers
o What next year’s class should do
The first iteration (Fall 2006) covered traditional terrain. The groups looked at the problem from a standard Political Science perspective in assessing the scope, causes, and progress. The groups all made efforts (some perfunctory) in analyzing the causes of progress and impediments to success. And the efforts to set out an agenda for the next iteration (Fall 2007) were also pretty standard.
The text that I am using for the course has many sections that deal with the changing nature of world politics in particular with the consequences of dramatic advances in information technologies. I was not surprised to see that the students in the first course did not connect those new elements of international relations with their course assignments. Instead, the students adopted traditional approaches when making recommendations for action. They tended to be tightly bound by the state-centric model of world politics which the course text was often challenging. My expectation is that this year’s class will make greater strides in this direction. My task and challenge is to urge the students in the direction without actually showing them the path. With the use of this repeated and cumulative learning exercise and the use of groups that function throughout the semester, my hope is that the students will find their way to meaningful and imaginative action that builds continuously over the years.
My approach stands in contrast to much conventional wisdom that stresses the virtues of designing active learning exercises with achievable goals. This view contends that rather than seeking to change the death penalty laws, students should be directed towards expanding recycling opportunities on campus. Pedagogical efforts to make international politics more “real” to students typically involve either role-playing and simulations (Wheeler, 2006) or tracking the international influences locally (McCartney, 2006.)
The results of this experiment are not yet in, but by February, the critical second step will be complete. The primary learning outcome that this particular feature of the course seeks is to prompt imaginative thinking among students about their relationship to the wider world, and about the connections that exist in the midst of wide global disparities.
Citations
McCartney, Alison Millett. 2006. “Making the World Real: Using a Civic Engagement Course to Bring Home Our Global Connections.” Journal of Political Science Education Vol. 2, Issue 1. 113-128.
Wheeler, Sarah M. 2006. “Role-Playing Games and Simulations for International Issues Courses.” Journal of Political Science Education Vol. 2, Issue 3. 331-347.

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