Course Exam: AU Courses, up close – POLI 355 – Hot Off the Press

Course Exam: AU Courses, up close – POLI 355 – Hot Off the Press

Another new AU course is rolling out, hot off the press! Opening in time for a May 2005 start date, Political Philosophy: Plato to Machiavelli (POLI 355) is the first half of a core political philosophy course at AU. If you’re majoring in political science, interested in politics, or just love learning, this course is for you.

POLI 355 introduces students to the political thinking of ancient and medieval philosophers; in addition, it “invites students to read carefully and develop critical thinking skills,” says Dr. Jane Arscott, the course author, in a recent interview.

The course is divided into two parts. The first introduces students to different perspectives on political philosophy in ancient times. It explores the core political philosophies of famous ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Students will have the opportunity to research Plato’s views on inquiry, good, decay and corruption, in addition to his philosophical thinking surrounding education. Likewise, students explore the world of Aristotelian thought, discovering views on internal happiness and the Ideal State, as well as on education and revolutions. The second part of POLI 355, which consists of six units, traces political philosophy from medieval times to the current-day. Students will explore the political thinking of famous men like Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas; additionally, they will be introduced to Niccolo Machiavelli’s theories on success in politics. Students will also focus for one unit on Hildegarde of Bingen, a medieval woman who offered a non-conventional political philosophy from her position as a “inspirational political visionary and cosmologist,” indicates Dr. Arscott.

The course has several interesting and just plain fun components integrated into the instructive content as well. “After each unit”, says Dr. Arscott, “we have provided crossword puzzles to test students’ knowledge”. Additionally, the four texts used in POLI 355 are the original works of several famous philosophers, including Saint Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Plato, and Machiavelli. Dr. Arscott says that having students read the original texts takes the course an extra dimension because of the different language, and way of thinking and expressing thoughts expressed in these original sources.

Your evaluation in POLI 355 is calculated using three assignments, each of which is worth 20%, and a final exam worth 40%. Two of the assignments are relatively open-subject, with students being able to choose from a selection of course-related topics. The third essay is a more involved one where students can “focus in depth on one particular philosopher studied in the course, if they like,” says Dr. Arscott. One unique feature of the assignments is that Dr. Arscott carefully designed them to help “forestall plagiarism” since the assignment topics make it too difficult for students to take something word-for-word from the texts or course manual.

The course author for Political Philosophy: Plato to Machiavelli (POLI 355), Dr. Jane Arscott, coordinates the Human Services Department at AU. Dr. Arscott received her PhD in political theory, and feels that writing POLI 355 is a “way of giving back something,” from her area of expertise.

Since POLI 355 will open shortly in time for an May 2005 start-date, you can have the chance to be the first student in this “hot off the press” course! For more information, visit the course syllabus at: