Monday, September 30, 2013

 Law and Society, online                       Professor David Baggins

Political Science, 3410                           


America proclaims itself to be a nation of law. We will study the process, values and implications of a nation choosing law as its foundation.  By the end of the class the following goals will be achieved:

  1. Students will understand how law is a product of political, social and economic forces and how each of these in turn is molded by the law. It is the repeated anthem of the class that everything is connected to the law. We will see many examples of that.
  2. Students will understand the main features of the Constitution and how it is related to criminal justice.
  3. Students will understand the power of courts and their role in the political process, particularly as applied to criminal justice.
  4. Students will have a theoretical understanding of criteria for the evaluation of success and failure in the law.
  5. Students will have an understanding of the complex forces that have achieved the policy reality of criminal justice as a high cost low achievement package.

6.       Students will understand how criminal justice came to be procedurally liberal but substantively conservative and so very expensive and of limited success.

7.       Students will understand the conditions of high and low criminal justice success.

My e-mail address is Contact me for anything related to the class.



Major insights of the class:

Every society has law. Law in each society is a reflection on that society’s values and politics. Law both is a creation and a creator of each civilization.

American society is unusually law oriented. Every era of the American experience has left an impression in the law. Principle periods of legal evolution include: Common Law, Revolutionary, Federalist, Jefferson-Jackson, Civil War, Republican Capitalist, Progressive-New Deal, Liberal Sociology, and Culture War.

Procedurally, American criminal law is liberal. This is a reflection on the founding fathers and their experience with British tyranny. This liberalism is expressed in clauses of the Constitution including Due Process, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, right to confront accusers, right to remain silent and other elements on Constitutional Criminal Procedure.
Substantively American criminal law is conservative. This is a reflection of American fear of crime, religious convictions and of a cultural war against minority and nonconforming Americans. This

conservatism is expressed in an unusually lengthily criminal code, and in harsh penalties including drug prohibition and California’s three strikes laws. Prohibitions against politically undesired personal behaviors are central to the criminal justice experience.

In modern America there has been a decade long overall drop in crime. However while some regions have excelled in crime reduction, others have not. We will examine why New York City has become a very low crime place, while Oakland is near the top of violent towns. The failure of criminal justice in Oakland will remain a theme of this class.

American criminal justice is unusually large, expensive and ineffective. We have the highest expenditure to criminal justice, but a high crime rate for a developed nation. Much of this class is an explanation of how a nation can devote so much resource to criminal justice but achieve so little result.

The Supreme Court has ruled criminal justice in California to be a systemic violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruelty (Brown v. Plata). Governor Jerry Brown has partially accepted this ruling and is conducting a systemic review of who should be in prison. This is a response to the Constitutional ruling, and the financial condition of the state, and the governor’s view that the culture war conducted through criminal justice under the title War on Drugs was always an abuse of criminal power. He and the more liberal legislature, and the even more liberal relevant courts are engaged in  discussion/confrontation over reduction of incarceration.  We will study Governor Brown’s plans for criminal justice, the legislative counter offer, and the continuing judicial response.

Overall America and California are liberalizing their criminal codes and enjoying a period of falling real crime. However this happy circumstance is not evenly shared. We will study Oakland and the politics and sociology surrounding a city with 130 murders in 2012. Oakland leads the nation in robbery per-capita. It is the California example of failure in the law. It joins such places as Detroit, Baltimore and St Louis nationally.

American Law caries an inherent duality: Is the purpose of law to prosecute society toward piety through prohibitions, essentially a conservative religious purpose, or is the purpose of law human happiness, a liberal public policy purpose?  This is a philosophical and political dichotomy. We will constantly address the role prosecution of sin (mala prohibit a) plays in the failure of criminal justice.

This duality has taken particular form in the modern era as the parties divided over basic questions of the law. Should gays have rights? Do women own their bodies? Should the government control many aspects of life including drug use and cyber viewing? The answer to such questions controls the direction of criminal justice.

Liability and regulation laws have proven effective in ways criminal law has not in changing behavior. Criminal law could be much more effective if focused on real crime with real victims (mala in se). But criminal law is more the product of politics than of reasoned public policy, and so much of the criminal code addresses cultural crimes.

The nation may be ready to reexamine the failures of criminal justice policy. In part this is because the prison system is expensive, unconstitutional and of limited utility. Objectively the nation would benefit from greater focus on corporate and economic harms and less on personal behavior.  But there is much political reality between the status quo and such reform.


Map of study. First read the whole syllabus to gain an overview of the class.  In each unit read the syllabus, watch the video presentations, read the hyperlinked articles, write and post your one-two page essay, read other student essays and respond to at least two in a manner that affirms and augments the author’s argument, post as well each week two criticisms of some aspect of the week’s deliberation, or ask questions of the author or me. That makes in total 5 posts each week: paper, augmentations, criticisms and questions. The criticisms and questions are to show your critical thinking skills. Watch the dates as you will only be able to post paper and responses in the time window. Dates are listed at the end of each unit. Read over the rubric for a better explanation of how you are graded each week.


1.       What is law?


Videos (3), Introduction, 1/8, and Unit One: What is Law? All my lectures are found under East Bay Replay on Blackboard.

Definition:  a set of rules enforced by government that people are required to live by.

Law is basic to sociology, like family, economy, religion and politics. Every society exhibits some form of each of these elements. Each of these elements is likely to reinforce the others.

Sociologists, philosophers, theologians and others who have considered the role of law:

Aristotle and Plato hold an ancient conversation regarding the use of punishment. Plato, for the conservatives argues the leaders are better than the people, and should use punishment to instill virtue. Aristotle thinks people should be allowed to find their own happiness except when they cause real harm to others. He thinks it is the leaders who need punishment as they can do the most harm and need be held to a higher standard.

Emile Durkheim, founder of the discipline of Sociology. Law is essential to create civilization and is found in every civilization. Traditional society’s have a “collective conscience” that is synonymous with law. Punishment for breach of collective conscience has the value of denunciation.

Every civilization has a variation of law, these variations traditionally also have much in common: Taboo, Dharma, Confucius, and Shari’a

 Max Weber, early sociologist. As society evolves, its legal system becomes more formal and more rational.

Karl Marx, critic of the way things are. Law is about class oppression, law helps to control the population and enforce hierarchy.  

In pre-modern civilizations, law is about hierarchy and order.  Liberal law is a Western development that has spread to most of the world

Declaration of Independence,

Later in the course we will consider what causes some places, like Detroit and Oakland, to have high levels of crime. Consider this from Detroit.



Please write a short essay (1-2 pages) on a topic of this unit. Suggestions for topics include: role of Ten Commandments in today’s law, Criticism or appreciation of Aristotle, or Plato, Role of Declaration of Independence, movement of crime in Bay Area, failure of civics in Detroit as cause of crime. Post under discussion your essay of the week, two agreements and two disagreements or questions to me or others with week’s work and discussion. That is a total of minimum five posts. See end of syllabus for more information on how to conduct your weekly participation. Students who have trouble with the class are often students who do not carefully read the instructions on the five weekly posts. Remember that each week your essay is due the day before the closing of the unit. Participation in the weekly discussion is the class. Go to it!

Discussion closes October 8


2.       What is justice?

Video presentation:  What is Justice?

In western civilization the idea of justice has formed an ongoing conversation. Below are some of the principle participants. The video presentation introduces each.

 Plato (virtue), Aristotle (happiness), Confucius (harmony),  Hebrew (righteousness), Roman (power), Dante  (sin) and the Catholic era, Hobbes (suppression of evil), Locke (freedom) and the Enlightenment era, Thomas Jefferson(American Republic and liberty)  Abraham Lincoln (social justice), Franklin Roosevelt (progressive) Earl Warren (affirmative action and personal freedom) and modern liberalism, John  Roberts (corporate rule) and modern conservatism, Scalia(fundamentalism),  Modern European Model (post modern)

Consensus view v. Conflict perspective, law is overall good for civilization, while bad for some groups and individuals. Conservatives tend to focus on the benefits of law to the civilization as a whole; liberals tend to focus on the victims.

Retributive Justice v. Distributive Justice: is the heart of justice punishing behavior or uplifting the downtrodden? Conservatives tend to focus on the need to punish sin to achieve virtuous civilizations; liberals want law to create justice through redistribution.

George Lakeoff’s model, nurturing v. strict governance, government is similar to either conservative or liberal style of parenting.

A first look at a famous prosecution, Ask, what is the point in the end of the infamous Simpson trial: the thug will do it again; when the police act illegally they destroy their legitimacy; the demographics of the jury matter more than the guilt of the defendant; or money buys justice? We will model the insight offered by each of these conclusions.

Our discussion of Oakland is a first pass at trying to understand the most violent city in California. Focus on how little support the police receive and ask why. Oakland is a topic we will continue with all quarter. The following article deserves a careful read.

Vocabulary building: Mala In Se (acts that are inherently evil and universally prohibited) Mala Prohibit a (acts that are prohibited because a society says so. For example crimes of homosexuality or alcohol or adultery or marijuana, list is always political and in motion)


Stop and Frisk,

New York,

Here is a list of mala in se crimes:

More to consider abut Oakland.

Discussion questions (choose one to write, post it at least a day before the end of the unit, read the posts, and respond to at least for with agreements or disagreements/inquiries):  What do I particularly observe that helps explain crime and criminal justice in our region of California? How did my family life shape my values toward sin, crime and punishment? What is the lesson of the Simpson trial?  How is Oakland’s politics a part of its crime event?  Why has New York moved to a very low crime city? Why has Oakland moved to a very high crime city? You may of course write on other topics. Ask me if not sure of fitness.

Discussion closes October 15 .



3.       How did American law evolve?



Video Presentation: The Constitution.

Some special moments in the evolution of American law: Magna Charta, British Common Law, Blackstone, Parliament and the courts, Virginia colony, Declaration of Independence,    Articles of Confederation, Constitutional Convention, Bill of Rights, 13-15 Amendments, Income tax, Women’s vote, Prohibition, Ban on poll tax, 18yr old vote.

If we consider law in the west after Magna Charta we trace the rise of liberal legalism, also known as the rule of law. Rights become more broadly distributed over time: political, economic, social.

How does law control politics today: Checks and Balances separation of church and state, freedom of speech, Constitutional Criminal Procedure and rules promoting equality.

Constitution of the United States,


Consideration of California prison case,

Modern Constitutional Criminal Procedure,

The authors of the constitution were very concerned with property. So to the Federalists, and the Republicans of the post Lincoln era, the Progressives through FDR were also concerned, but in a different way.  Modern Republicans and Democrats continue to vie over economic issues. We will consider the Marshal Court, Dartmouth case, McCullough v. Maryland, Issues of the Federal Bank, Republican Party and capitalism, Progressives, New Deal Challenge, Regulated Economy, Enron and the Great Recession, Conservative revolt.


A central constitutional issue today is “Stop and Frisk”. Under this standard police with “reasonable suspicion” are able to frisk persons they consider to be high risk. This police practice is aggressively diploid in NY City. New York has the lowest crime rate of any major American city. Its crime rate is below most European and Asian cities. There is little agreement in the literature as to why. The Mayor, Bloomberg, a wealthy philanthropist underwrites Planned Parenthood, so one answer is low unwanted births. They have reduced public housing and gentrified Manhattan. But the police believe that aggressive “Stop and Frisk” is the lead factor.

Courts have taken up the issue of Stop and Frisk. At the first round New York’s practice was found to violate rights. Oakland may deploy this practice if it is held Constitutional. This is very much a living Constitutional Criminal Procedure argument.

Ideologies active and important to understanding law in America today, six plus one:

1.       Liberalism, this is the most traditional American ideology. It is the dominant values set of the founding fathers, particularly Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. It is the promise that good government must be non-oppressive. In particular the Constitutional promises against rule by a police state are a strongly held liberal value. In the 1960s under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren the judiciary applied these rights and found criminal justice as practiced in America to be unconstitutional. California is under liberal order to reduce its level of rule through prison today. Modern liberals believe that just as government, police and ruling churches needed to have their power regulated from the founding of the republic, so too in the modern era corporations and wealth need regulation.


2.       Conservatism, this is the most traditional of world ideologies. It is the view that order is only achieved through effective government using police power and punishment. Strength of government, both police and military, are used to combat dangers domestic and foreign. President Ronald Reagan revived Conservative values regarding criminal justice to fight an immerging crime wave and to crush opposition culture.  Conservative values led California to fight crime with mass incarceration.



3.       Progressive, this movement argues that the morally right way to fight crime is to increase the quality of life of the underclass through deployment of benevolent governments. They propose public health, public housing, public education, welfare etc. Democrats have continued the move toward progressive government with the Affordable Care Act (Obama care).


4.       Capitalist, this is the movement that argues the America’s prosperity it the direct result of an economy based on business and enterprise. The Federalists in the early era of the republic, and the Republican Party espouse capitalist values.  They see progressive government as the enemy of enterprise. They think an economy that rewards hard work and good choices is important just as letting the poor feel the punishment of bad choices is part of how America moves forward. They blame public welfare as causing a breakdown of values. They believe capitalism instills values and creates a more prosperous nation.



5.       Libertarian, this view holds that adults have the right to make their own choices. It does not want to see government controlling personal behavior. They accept reasonable government oversight to establish markets and rules so as to take the social harm out of the personal choice. Libertarians argue that prohibitions are always a public policy error. They would like to see fewer rules and less punishment in general.


6.       Fundamentalist, this view holds that we know God’s position on public policy and must deploy police to suppress sin. They want to see government prohibition of drugs, abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, pornography etc. The Founding Fathers thought fundamentalism was passed its era, but it has revived both in the United States and in the Middle East. Fundamentalists believe in an expansive criminal code focused on mala prohibit a crimes.


Plus Opposition Culture, this is the view of people living in the country who do not wish to be a part of the country. The Bay Area, particularly Oakland is a concentration of opposition culture. The strength of opposition culture in Oakland is a piece of why police work there is so challenging. This ideology is not strong nationally, but has a high presence in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. It is a portion of understanding how a city as actually wealthy as Oakland fails to combat crime.


Discussion Questions (write one; respond to at least two, two criticisms or questions):

Which ideology is most and least expressed in American law? Which ideologies are in conflict or cooperation?  How is the Constitutional importance of property related to crime in America?   How has the Supreme Court led economics through the law? How do the political parties differ in their view of law and economics? How is the Constitution relevant to our discussion of law and society?  What are the values that make criminal justice procedurally liberal? Would America pass the Constitutional criminal rights amendments today? Should Oakland deploy “Stop and Frisk? Should “Stop and Frisk” be held Constitutional?


Discussion closes October 22.



4.       Prohibitions and the Cultural Uses of Crime

Videos (3) 1/24, 1/29, 1/31

What is crime? How does behavior become a crime?

Steady movement from conservative, white male adult Christian rule, to greater liberalism, rights for Blacks, Women, Gays, children, Non-Christians etc. We consider:  The Immigrant experience and American law; the centrality of African Americans to the American legal story; law and other attempts at social change; Brown v. Board and its aftermath; sexuality and the law; and conservative and liberal plans for family law.





Discussion Topics

 What are the lessons of prohibition? What were the politics behind Prohibition? What are factors that explain the rise in crime, 1950-1990? What are factors that help to explain the fall in crime 1990-1993?  

Discussion closes October 29.


5.       Law, Crime and The War on Drugs,

Videos (3)  2/12, 2/14, and The Incidence of Crime.


Concepts that may explain variation in crime:

Relative Deprivation

Opposition Culture

Concentration of Poverty

Gang Sociology and Economics


What is crime? Acts the state chooses to declare crimes in the criminal code.  Elements are: act, in violation of statute, with intent, without recognized justifications (self defense, line of duty, duress, and entrapment).


Not all harms are crimes (pollution), not all crimes are harms (suicide, prostitution, sodomy). Concentric circle, Core crimes, crimes against culture, Regulatory, Civil action, tolerated.


Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Due Process, Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights, Warren Revolution.


Why does America spend more on criminal justice than any other nation yet not achieve public safety?

What is criminology?

What is crime? Mala in Se v. Mala Prohibit a 

Mala in se stays pretty much the same. Here is a list again.

Mala Prohibit a is always changing with the times. The following explores a range of Mala Prohibit a issues:



If sugar is a greater health hazard than heroine, as doctors say, how should the law respond?



Why does crime rise, 1960-1990, then fall 1991-2011?

Many factors: Baby Boom effect: crime rises when there are a lot of young people. Abortion effect: crime falls with fewer unwanted kids.  End of AFDC: crime falls as Earned Income Tax credit replaces classic welfare that paid per fatherless child.  Change in drug habits: crime falls as marijuana reasserts as principle drug pushing crack and cocaine aside.  Gang phenomena: crime rises and falls based on how fertile the sociological conditions are for gang breeding.  Migration patterns: crime rises as public policy concentrates poverty, falls as poverty disperses. In the end, rise and fall of crime is a complex phenomenon with many contributing factors. We may never be able to fully say why civilization is what it is. The rise and fall of crime is related to more potential factors than we can list.


Discussion topics (write on one and respond to two or ask questions):

What are the important lessons of change in crime rate?

Why is the Warren Court controversial in the study of crime?

How is Mala Prohibit a in a state of change since the 1950s?

How are issues of families related to issues of crime?

What is the difference between what Republicans and Democrats want of the law?

How do you explain what makes for the high crime cities?

What lessons of Prohibition are displayed in the War on Drugs?

What are the lessons of the War on Drugs?

How should criminal law deal with human sin?

How are the Oakland Police Department a part of the problem of crime in Oakland?

How is Oakland politics and sociology a part of the problem of crime?

November 5.


6.       Punishment

Video: Punishment

What are we trying to achieve through punishment:

Denunciation, recall our discussion on Durkheim.



Politics and Policy of Three strikes,

Court order and Eight Amendment, Brown v. Plata


What are they values that frame criminal justice in California? How is Governor Brown shifting the use of Punishment? How has the evolution of Three Strikes changed criminal justice? How could the state improve its model of punishment? What is the most rational use of punishment America could construct? What is the nature of the politics behind use of prisons in California?

Discussion closes November 12



7.       Values of Criminal Justice

Video, Values of Crime

James Q Wilson equation value of life <> crime – punishment

Try to solve this equation from the ideological perspectives: Libertarian, Capitalist, Progressive, Conservative Religious, Civil liberties liberalism, Traditional Conservative.

Consideration of effectiveness, externality, criminogenics, costs, legitimacy.

The essential point here is that it has been many years since the state’s enormous and expensive death penalty system, housed in San Quinton, succeeded in carrying out sentence. Nowhere else is the reality of procedural liberalism but substantive conservatism so apparent.  If you just add all costs of the system over the last decade and divide by successful death, it’s around 200 million per death. This is a flawed but dramatic methodology. Death row inmates have a longer life expectancy than life sentence inmates due to superior living conditions. So death is longer than life!?

Discussion questions:

Why has punishment proven so ineffective in reducing crime in California? Given Wilson’s equation, how should crime be reduced? What are your values regarding the place of punishment? How does California get out of the death penalty fiasco? Did you vote to end the death penalty in 2012? How has Three Strikes been changed? Why is the federal government now moving against the War on Drugs policies? Are we in danger of becoming an unconstitutional police state?

Discussion closes November 19


8.       Torts, contract, property and regulations:

Video, Regulation and Civil Law

Torts: Negligence, Causation, Damage, duty


Change of status of women in the workplace.

Clean Air Act

Mortgage meltdown

Learn tolerance (sexual revolution), education (safe sex), manipulate price (tobacco) , create rights (sexual harassment), regulation (alcohol), criminalization

Hierarchy of responses to perceived undesired behavior:

Learn tolerance (sexual revolution), education (safe sex), manipulate price (tobacco) , create rights (sexual harassment), regulation (alcohol), criminalization



Discussion topics:

How could regulation prove a superior means of social control to criminalization? How have you successfully asserted your rights to achieve justice? How should American law be more regulatory toward corporations? How do the political parties differ on this issue? What sins should be regulated but not criminalized? Why?

Discussion closes November 26.


9.       The Politics of Criminal Justice.



See Video Politics of Criminal Justice


Era of bipartisan conservatism, Capitalism and Social; challenged by progressives, The Jungle Upton Sinclair, FDA; challenged by Prohibition; challenged by New Deal, Social Security, NLRB, SEC; challenged by McCarthyism; challenged by Great Society, Sesame Street, AFDC, Head start, public housing; Challenged by Ronald Reagan, War on Drugs, militarization, culture war; challenged by Bill Clinton, moderate Democrat; War on Terrorism; today? Pragmatism; Santorum and Culture War?


Consideration of Willie Horton,




Life on the Outside.

 Drug Hate and the Corruption of American Justice:        (Disclosure, my book)

Conservative Thought:




Discussion, write about one, respond to two and two criticisms or questions.

What are the politics that drive criminal justice? How do you agree or disagree with any of the above arguments? Where are we in the cycles of politics?


Discussion closes December 3 .


10.   A more rational legal structure.

Video: 3/12 and 3/14

Recognize that prison is expensive. It should be rationed accordingly.

Recognize that the beneficial incarceration effect is greatly diluted by irrational rules and punishment.

Recognize that criminal justice should not be deployed to fight America’s culture war.

Recognize that the status quo ante of criminal justice made political, but never policy sense.

Recognize that regulation and civil law can be used to confront social ills in a way that criminal justice cannot.

Recognize that police are only effective if they have the support of the city, population, legal establishment and media.

Recognize the importance of family and the need in particular of fathers.


Essay prompts:

How should criminal justice be reorganized? How is criminal justice being changed by Jerry Brown, Brown v. Plata and the state budget?  Why does the United States spend so much on criminal justice but achieve so little by way of public safety?

Discussion closes December 10.



Grading and Weekly Participation

The heart of our class together is our online dialogue. I believe that it is the promise of online teaching to create the conditions for superior discussion. Your grade is entirely dependent on your weekly engagement submitted in the correct form and format. My assignments are your keys to success in both education and grade. Submit all five required entries each week. Value your papers knowing it is your long turn to probe the issues. Read each other’s work with genuine interest and openness of mind. Ask the question you would really like to have answered. Answer questions directed toward you. I will try to do so to questions not answered.

All material is to be placed on the online discussion of Blackboard. Discussion ends on Tuesdays, first discussion ends Tuesday October 8. Your weekly essay is due the prior Monday, thus for unit one the seventh of October. This is to give the class time to critique your essay.  There is an essay and four responses each week, two affirming an argument, two critical. You always may substitute one criticism with a thoughtful question to me based on the class. I will respond in my weekly to the class essay that summarizes the discussion. You may ask questions of each other in place of criticism. Please think of the questions, answers and criticisms as an exercise in critical thinking. I of course judge if your questions and criticisms advance the conversation. If someone asks you a question and you reply, that is a matter for weekly grading. I heartily encourage such exchange.  There is in total a minimum of 50 comments. You may of course write more. You have entered an online discussion of issues of law, crime, justice, police, politics and America for the next eleven weeks. You will see, the topic is quite engaging.

Each week your contribution to the class is evaluated on a scale of 0-5. Thus there are 50 points needed in the class. Thirty points is needed for a grade of C. I reward: careful reading and use of materials provided including lecture, response to fellow classmates, use of relevant materials you have found through research, thoughtfulness of advancement of week’s discussion.  I also reward appropriate application of past material and responsiveness to my comments made as the week’s discussion evolves. This discussion can be exciting and even intense. I am open to the full range of points of view. However, I do take off points for comments that are rude, ill informed or simply unproductive. Conversation must be about the issues of the class and must be conducted in a civil manner.

There is one extra credit point available for posting a link that I find sufficiently useful that I include it in future syllabi. This is at my discretion.

I will send out my summary comment of each week based on the progress of class discussion.

All lectures are found under East Bay Replay.


Rubric for weekly contributions, this is included for your guidance. This is my basis for assigning points.


Levels of Achievement
1.      Use of Materials: lecture, readings, clips etc.
Weight 40.00%
0 %
Little evidence that you considered material.
50 %
Genuine evidence of reviewing materials.
100 %
Deep understand of materials and fully useful application.
2.      Material Added to Discussion: research, useful personal experience, and observations
Weight 15.00%
0 %
No added material.
50 %
Useful valid information.
100 %
Genuine research that makes a worthy point and is substantiated with citation.
3.      Advances Class Discussion: responsiveness to others, meaningful questions, criticisms and advancement of argument, use of weekly summary.
Weight 15.00%
0 %
Comments and questions have no relation to discussion.
50 %
Simple agreement or disagreement with thread.
100 %
Meaningfully shifts discussion.
4.      Shows Awareness of Subject Taken as a Whole: by remembering past material, advancing material yet to be covered, or showing the relationship of weeks and ideas.
Weight 10.00%
0 %
Lacks connection to big picture.
50 %
Shows some of the connection of ideas.
100 %
Shows how the particular material is a part of the big picture in a way that benefits the readers.
5.      Correct Form: weekly paper is class worthy, questions, comments and criticisms are intelligently composed.
Weight 20.00%
0 %
Careless and unworthy of college work.
50 %
Clear, but not well crafted.
100 %
Fine written work


There are thus five criteria for grading your five weekly posts. Give consideration to how you will demonstrate the five criteria. Note that the first criteria, use of this week’s materials, carries the most weight.

I do recommend that you use cut and paste to retain a copy of your posts until the end of the class. Sometimes students find that helpful if they wish to compare their answers to the rubric above. I can only discuss your work with you if you can present me with copy of the text. I cannot search back material for you.

Revised Student Learning Outcomes for Political Science (POSC)



POSC majors will develop and articulate an understanding of the theory and practice of political systems and gain practical experience in politics, public policy, and civic engagement in a democracy.

SLO1a:  understanding the theory and practice of political systems

SLO1b:  involvement in practical experience/civic engagement




POSC majors will demonstrate through written competency, an understanding of the theories, concepts, empirical content, and research agendas of the fields of political science with advanced understanding in the selected option and the use of critical thinking.

SLO2a:  understanding theories and concepts in political science and applying them to new material or situations

SLO2b:  understanding quantitative and qualitative empirical content

SLO 2c:  understanding research agendas




POSC majors will demonstrate an understanding of political institutions, processes, and culture in the U.S. and around the world including the economic, ideological, ethnic and cultural groups and movements that engage the political process.

SLO 3a:  understand the relationship between ethnic, racial, religious and socio-economic diversity and national political cultures.

SLO 3b:  understand the relationship between political culture and political institutions and processes.

SLO 3c:  understand the institutions and processes of government




POSC majors will articulate career goals, demonstrate knowledge of how to achieve those goals, and produce evidence of working to achieve the goals.




POSC majors will demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge through collaborative learning.





A=assignments, weekly

E=Essays, weekly

R=Research papers, weekly

 O=Other:  a continuing discussion in the class critical thinking format.




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