This course explores the central political, economic, and social ideologies of the modern world, including capitalism, socialism, communism, liberalism, populism, and nationalism. We ask what principles define these ideologies, how these ideologies intersect with democracy, and how they produce and require different meanings and understandings of key concepts such as freedom, equality, justice, and citizenship.
Starting with an extended focus on capitalism and liberal democracy, students investigate the origins and key beliefs of each ideology and think about the pros and cons of various systems of governance and social control. Our goal is not to proclaim any one ideology as superior, but to more deeply understand different ways of thinking about politics and society that have shaped the past and present, and that offer us possibilities for the future. In the process, class participants become more reflective about and aware of their own convictions, and better able to articulate and defend such convictions in speech and writing with thoughtfulness, precision, insight, and persuasive force.
Course materials include excerpts from classic and contemporary political theory texts, as well as newspaper and magazine articles and film clips. Students draft and revise personal ideology statements and participate in debates in which they marshal ideas from the sources studied to justify and defend their positions.
The course also includes guest speakers representing various ideological positions. Students are encouraged to engage in serious dialogue with and pose difficult questions of these guests, probing what they believe and why.
The morning sessions are generally devoted to helping students achieve a firm grasp of the theoretical and factual arguments found in the readings, through a combination of presentations by the instructor and class discussion. The afternoon sessions allow students to put these theories and facts to work in written and oral form, working both individually and in small groups to develop arguments and debate controversial political questions.
By the end of the three weeks, students are equipped with not only a deeper understanding of the competing political and economic ideologies that shape the modern world, but also with the tools to make, understand, and critically evaluate claims of all kinds—tools which should serve them well both in their future studies and as future citizens and leaders.
Geoffrey Upton received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in political theory and public law; he also holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is currently an assistant professor of political science at Seton Hall University, where he is also the pre-law advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences. Geoffrey has taught political theory, law, and American politics at Berkeley as a lecturer and teaching assistant, and legal studies at Mills College in Oakland as an assistant adjunct professor in political science. He has also been an instructor for the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies program at Stanford University, teaching summer courses to high school and middle school students on democracy, legal studies, philosophy, and expository writing. Before pursuing his Ph.D., Geoffrey was a lawyer in New York for two major international law firms, an attorney and political aide for the New York City Council, and a professional journalist and editor. He also lived and worked in Berlin for one year on a Robert Bosch Foundation fellowship.
Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.