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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fall classes: books and films

This past week, I made final book selections for my fall classes.

MWF at noon I'm teaching POLS 335, Global Ecopolitics, a course which is most often called Global Environmental Politics at other schools. However, I did my graduate training at University of Maryland where Dennis Pirages was pioneering the study of "ecopolitics." In addition to extensive discussion of global environmental concerns (with a focus this term on climate change), my course devotes a great deal of attention to both resource politics and global poverty. There are still plenty of seats available in the course. Students do not need prior exposure to either international relations or environment courses.

In the right-hand column of this blog, I've added a link to my textbook selections available on-line at Powell's Bookstore. The list includes books I've used in the past few years, though it begins with books selected for the coming term:

Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren by Joseph Dimento and Pamela Doughman (MIT 2007).

Global Environmental Governance: Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies by James Gustave Speth and Peter Haas (Island, 2006).

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier (Oxford, 2008).

I'm also teaching POLS 552, Global Politics Through Film. The class will be viewing films on Monday afternoons at 3 pm (the class ends at 5:15) and will discuss them on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 pm. I've taught the course twice since 2006 -- students can find a list of films used previously here. I changed a couple of selections from fall 2006 to summer 2008 and may again tweak some choices from the original list. Time constraints are a major concern as some interesting films are longer than 150 minutes.

I think it is a fun class for students and I must increase enrollment before late August for it to remain on the schedule. My pitch: students do not have to take any exams, but will write a couple of short analytical or review papers through the term -- culminating in a longer research paper at the end. I provide extensive feedback and typically allow rewrites of papers in classes at the 500 level. All of the paper assignments tie to film texts. Undergraduates worried about taking this course at the 500 level may be able to sign up for a 300 or 400 level course and might be able to arrange for this to count as a Writing Requirement (WR).

No textbooks with substantive international relations content are required; the class will instead read a couple of short IR-related articles each week. The class focuses on substantive issues more than IR theory. The following books is recommended as an aide to writing about film:

A Short Guide To Writing About Film by Timothy J. Corrigan (Longman, 2006).

This is the sixth edition of Corrigan's brief text. Though a new 7th edition is available, I figured that it would be cheaper for students to buy used copies of the slightly older one. I think it would be OK for students to consult any recent edition of the book and it is likely that the new edition will have a better resale value.

Disclosure: The blog receives a 7.5% commission on book sales purchased through links from this website.

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