POLSCI 688 - Selected Topics in Political Science
Section: 003 The Evolution of Societies and Cultures
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Political Science (POLSCI)
Department: LSA Political Science
Credits:
3
Waitlist Capacity:
99
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
Repeatability:
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This seminar examines the impact of a wide variety of factors on the evolution of societies and cultures. The underlying goal is to understand how the societies we live in are changing and are likely to change in the long term, and to understand the choices that will face us. We will examine the impact of a wide range of factors, from genetic evolution to epidemics, variations in agriculture and climate, technological change, economic development, and cultural evolution.

As economic and technological development gives humans greater control over their environment, people begin to escape from the reign of necessity and the range of human choice broadens. People become less narrowly constrained by economic scarcity and increasingly able to choose the world they will live in—and these choices are influenced by their cultural values. Although cultural variables influence given societies' economic growth rates, fertility rates or the survival of democratic institutions, until now cultural variables have largely been left out of quantitative analyses of these topics. One reason for this is that, although abundant data are available for economic variables, reliable and cross-nationally comparable measures of cultural variables simply have not been available: in their absence, the relevant literature largely consisted of sweeping claims about the role of culture based on impressionistic measures.

Recent evidence indicates that mass belief systems play a crucial role in the survival of stable democracy, and in a variety of other important social phenomena, from church attendance rates to divorce rates and fertility rates, to economic growth rates and the spread of gender equality. It also indicates that many of the most basic beliefs and values are changing over time—and that these changes are coherent and, to some extent, predictable.

Course Requirements:

Each participant will write three papers, each of which counts for 25 percent of the final grade. Contributions to the seminar discussions will also count for 25 percent of the final grade. These papers should be a critical account of the material assigned for a given day, adding some insight of your own, linking it with ideas from other readings if possible. You will present your findings in the meeting for which the reading is assigned, accompanied by a power point presenting key points.

Intended Audience:

Ph.D. level graduate students.

POLSCI 688 - Selected Topics in Political Science
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
P
25512
Open
7
7Graduate Standing
-
M 10:00AM - 12:00PM
002 (SEM)
P
24604
Open
13
8POLSCI GRAD + JOINT SW/PUBPOL
-
M 10:00AM - 12:00PM
003 (SEM)
P
27132
Open
14
14Graduate Standing
-
Tu 2:00PM - 5:00PM
005 (SEM)
P
30460
Open
7
7Graduate Standing
-
Th 10:00AM - 12:00PM
007 (SEM)
P
31951
Open
5
5Graduate Standing
-
Tu 10:00AM - 12:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.


ISBN: 9780199236633
War in human civilization, Author: Gat, Azar, Publisher: Oxford University Press 2008
Required
ISBN: 9780691175898
FORAGERS, FARMERS, AND FOSSIL FUELS : how human values evolve., Author: MORRIS, IAN., Publisher: PRINCETON University PRES 2017
Required
ISBN: 9780140264456
The origins of virtue : human instincts and the evolution of cooperation, Author: Ridley, Matt,, Publisher: Penguin Books 1997
Required
ISBN: 019938245X
Human societies : an introduction to macrosociology, Author: Nolan, Patrick, 1947-
Required
ISBN: 0199233020
Democratization, Publisher: Oxford University Press 2009
Required
ISBN: 1452601836
The singularity is near : when humans transcend biology, Author: Kurzweil, Ray., Publisher: Tantor Media 2011
Required
ISBN: 9780520222021
Acts of faith : explaining the human side of religion, Author: Stark, Rodney, Publisher: Univ. of California Press 2007
Required
ISBN: 0393254054
Rewriting the rules of the American economy : an agenda for growth and shared prosperity, Author: Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1943-, Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc 2016
Required
ISBN: 0465097537
Rise of the robots : technology and the threat of a jobless future, Author: Ford, Martin (Martin R.),
Required
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