POLSC322: Asia-Pacific Politics

Course Syllabus for "POLSC322: Asia-Pacific Politics"

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This course will introduce you to the international relations of the Asia-Pacific region.  In political science, the “Asia-Pacific” region is generally limited to those parts of Asia east of India, and for the purposes of this course, will include Northeast (China, Japan, Taiwan, and the two Koreas) and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines).  Countries in South and Southwest Asia, such as the Gulf States, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, will not be covered, nor will the Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand.  Globalization, economic ties, national security issues, and politico-military alliances with the U.S. make an understanding of this region important to any political science student or participant in American government. The political systems of Asia have a much longer history (dating back nearly 5,000 years) than do the systems you may be accustomed to studying in the West.  The general philosophical outlooks of the Asian population have likewise been molded through societal and historical forces very different from those of the West.  As such, this course will begin with an examination of the differences between Eastern and Western thought and a discussion of how culture and philosophy impact government and politics. The next few sections of the course will address government and politics in Asia by examining pre-colonial systems of government, Western imperialism and colonial governments, national liberation movements, and proxy wars fought by the Superpowers through supporting selected political regimes in the region during the era of the Cold War.  The course will conclude with a survey of political systems and issues in Northeast and Southeast Asia during the past two decades. Please note that this course will apply concepts from international relations theory where appropriate.  Because international relations theory developed out of the Western European experience, scholars debate how well international relations theory applies to regions other than Western Europe, but we will attempt it here with that caveat in mind.  The Asia-Pacific region is of particular interest in current international relations scholarship as it is home to China, which is widely considered a potential challenger to U.S. global hegemony.  The Asia-Pacific has also given rise to several of the U.S.’s major security concerns: financial support of the U.S. economy by China and Japan through the purchase of U.S. government debt securities, conflict with China over Taiwan, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, separatist movements in several of the smaller Pacific Rim nations, and the growth and support of transnational terrorism within the region.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Explain how religion and culture impact government and political systems in Eastern Asia.
  • Discuss philosophies of government in Eastern Asia from ancient times to the present.
  • Identify the ways in which Western imperialism has impacted Eastern Asia.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of systems of governance currently in existence in Eastern Asia.
  • Analyze contemporary political and security issues in Eastern Asia that may impact U.S. national interests.
  • Assess the relationship that exists between economic development, systems of governance, and political stability of a Third World nation.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt., .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed and passed the following course: POLSC221: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Course Information

Welcome to POLSC322.  Below, please find general information on the course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Dr. Sharon Jumper

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following:

  • Columbia University’s Asia for Educators website.
  • YouTube: day50192A: Mike Day’s “Comparative Religions” video clips.
  • Lionel Giles’ translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as it is important to understand the culture and history of the region in order to understand the modern political systems in Asia that are presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete the Final Exam.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 110 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These time advisory sections should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 12 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2 (a total of 4 hours) on Monday night, subunit 1.3 (a total of 2 hours) on Tuesday night, etc.

Tips/Suggestions:  Asian history is much longer than the history of Western nations you have studied, so it is important to keep this in mind as you progress through the materials. The influence of Eastern religions has permeated government, culture, and social mores in Asia, and these influences may be difficult to understand as a Westerner.  Keep in mind that generally speaking, Eastern religions have a much more collective orientation than do Judaism and Christianity, and collectivism is a common theme throughout Asian politics and governance.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.