Teaching

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POL356 – Canadian Political Parties and Elections (U of T, St. George)

Syllabus

Political parties are one of the key building blocks of any democracy. They play a crucial role in organizing government, integrating citizens into the political system, and aggregating their interests to facilitate democratic responsiveness. This course will examine Canada’s federal political parties in-depth, how they operate, and how they conduct election campaigns. It will introduce students to the structure and evolution of the Canadian party system. It will chart the historical development and characteristics of the major parties and shed light on their internal processes, such as candidate selection, leadership elections, and the role of party members and activists. The class will conclude with a focus on elections in Canada, introducing students to important topics like the electoral system and electoral reform, money in politics, political campaigning, voter behaviour, and voter turnout.

Over the course of the term students should be able to:

  • Describe the evolution of Canada’s party system, including its major parties, third parties, and the internal rules governing candidate recruitment and nominations, and leadership elections
  • Understand the importance of the electoral system in shaping Canadian politics, along with electoral rules related to voter eligibility, campaign finance, and the distribution and creation of electoral districts
  • Evaluate the ability of Canadian parties to reflect the diversity and interests of Canadian society
  • Describe changes in the art of election campaigning in Canada and explain key factors that influence election outcomes, voter behaviour, and voter turnout
  • Engage with key debates related to Canadian political parties and elections, such as voter equality, the lack of representation of women and minorities in Parliament, electoral reform, political polarization, and intra-party democratic reform

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POL382 – Public Opinion and Voting (U of T, St. George)

Syllabus

Course Description: This course introduces students to the attitudes and behaviours of the mass public in Canada and other Western democracies. Themes include political participation, the mass media, and the nature of social, psychological, and economic, and elite-driven forces on public opinion and voting. It will also highlight the role of campaigns, issues, and leaders in elections. Over the course of the term students will engage in a number of important debates in the area of public opinion and voting, such as the on the relative importance of values and partisanship in shaping political behaviour, the nature of social cleavages in public opinion, the capacity of citizens to understand and participate in politics, the effects of the media and political campaigns on public opinion and voting, and the importance of public opinion in policy making. Students will also be given a brief introduction to public opinion polling and survey research methodology.

Over the course of the term students should be able to:

  • Understand the strengths and limitations of survey methodology and critically consume public opinion information contained in election discourse
  • Explain the fundamental characteristics of public opinion formation and change
  • Identify important foundational influences on public opinion and voting and weigh in on important debates regarding their relative importance, like social groups and identities, ideology and partisanship
  • Evaluate the ability of the news media and political campaigns to influence public opinion and voting
  • Create survey questions and research designs to answer research questions in public opinion research in accordance with best practices

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POL410/2391 – Media & Politics (U of T, St. George)

Syllabus

Course Description: News media have long played an enormous role in democratic politics by shaping the behaviour of citizens and political elites alike. Technological changes over the past several decades have radically transformed the way politics is reported by journalists and discussed by citizens. This course will introduce students to important debates at the intersection of media and politics in Canada and other Western democracies. Topics include the historical development of news media, framing and priming effects, agenda setting, the rise of social media and the changing media landscape, echo chambers and partisan media, media bias, and problems of misinformation.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Identify key changes in the news media environment over the 20th and 21st centuries in Canada, the U.S., and other western democracies, and their consequences.
  • Understand key debates surrounding the relationship between soft news, media effects, media biases, social media, partisan media, and misinformation and democratic politics.
  • Identify gaps in understanding in current literature and generate research questions on topics related to media & politics
  • Synthesize existing research on media & politics and/or craft research designs that can shed light on existing debates in media & politics.

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POL214 – Canadian Government (U of T, St. George)

Syllabus

Course Description: This course provides an introduction to the study of Canadian Politics, its historical foundations, institutions, and political processes. We will cover a range of topics, such as the constitutional foundations of Confederation, institutional structures (cabinet, parliament, the judiciary), political culture, and the behavior of elites and citizens. Over the course of the term students will engage with important debates in Canadian politics such as the centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s office, federal decentralization, indigenous politics, multiculturalism, and the judicialization of Canadian politics.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the formal and informal features of Canadian politics, including the constitution, the three branches of government, elections and political parties, and Canadian political culture.
  • Understand core theoretical concepts of political science, including power, collective action-problems, media effects, group identity, and partisanship, and apply them to phenomena in Canadian politics.
  • Evaluate critical questions in Canadian politics, and develop and communicate evidence-based arguments through written composition.

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POLI 320A – Government and Politics of the United States of America (UBC)

Syllabus

Course Description: This course provides an introduction to the study of American Politics. We will cover a range of topics, such as the constitutional foundations of the republic, institutional structures (the presidency, Congress, the judiciary), political culture, and the behavior of elites and citizens. Over the course of the term students will engage with important debates in American politics such as partisan polarization, interest group domination, legislative gridlock, presidential power, and race relations.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the formal and informal features of U.S. politics, including the constitution, the three branches of government, elections and political parties, and American political culture.
  • Understand core theoretical concepts of political science, including power, collective action-problems, media effects, group identity, and partisanship and apply them to phenomena in American politics.
  • Evaluate critical questions in American politics, and develop and communicate evidence-based arguments through written composition.

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POLI 110 – Investigating Politics: An Introduction to Scientific Political Analysis (UBC)

Syllabus

Course Description: This course prepares students to engage with the field of political science by introducing them to the basic logic and tools used by political scientists to understand and explain the political world. The course will teach students how to ask answerable questions; how to define key political concepts; how to formulate hypotheses and theories about political dynamics; how to measure the phenomena we want to study; how to think about and assess relationships of cause-and-effect; and how to report our findings to the world. We will consider these issues by examining how political scientists have investigated major questions in domestic and international affairs, such as the effectiveness of foreign aid, the link between economic development and democracy, and how citizens arrive at their vote choice and evaluate candidates for public office.