Summer 2020  |  POL 3410 Section 001: Topics in Comparative Politics -- European Responses to Catastrophes: War to COVID19 (88267)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
Completely Online
Class Attributes:
Topics Course
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
06/08/2020 - 07/31/2020
Mon, Wed 05:30PM - 08:00PM
Off Campus
Virtual Rooms ONLINEONLY
Enrollment Status:
Open (11 of 25 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Topics of current analytical or policy importance to comparative politics. Topics vary, as specified in Class Schedule.
Class Notes:
Class Description:

What are the social, economic and political impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on citizens' lives in Europe and across the Atlantic? This course defines the current pandemic as a catastrophe and adopts a comparative approach to examine the novelty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and strategies deployed to contain it in Europe, compared with those followed in the US. It examines also the historical roots of mitigation policies deployed in Europe today to probe whether this catastrophe can open the way for constructive political changes, as the aftermath of WWII did 70 years ago.

The course will explore some of the following questions and others that may come up during the course's delivery:

· Facing COVID-19 has been compared to engaging in war. What policies did Europeans develop after WWII? How is this experience shaping current European responses to COVID-19?

· COVID-19 is putting pressure on the democratic systems of Europe, which differ widely from each other. What kind of pressures? How is the European Union's federal order responding compared to the US? What is different? What is similar?

· COVID-19 is challenging health care and employment policies across the world.

What are the intellectual and sociological roots for the current healthcare and employment policies in Europe? Why do these policies differ so much among European countries, and even more so from US policies?

· COVID-19 is provoking a major economic depression. How did Europeans respond to the 2008 Great Recession? How is this experience shaping current European policies and more specifically Greek policies?

· COVID 19 is exposing major cracks in the relationships between nation states as well as provoking new collaborations. What are pressures on the European integration's processes today? What kind of leadership can the European Union provide to a world in chaos? Is this leadership effective during the pandemic?


Who Should Take This Class?:
Students interested in learning from best practices and responses to COVID 19 across 35+ European countries and the Atlantic in a comparative perspective; students interested in learning more about the European Union and European social and international policies.
Learning Objectives:

SLO: This course meets five of the seven Student Learning Objectives by training students to:

· Master a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry through the readings assigned, lectures, course materials and in-class exercises and discussions.

· Locate and critically evaluate information through one Newspost presentation in class, preparing one of the two class debates by posting a blog on the relevant readings, and the final research essay.

· Understand diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies by studying comparatively and historically the intellectual and political influences on policy responses to crises and catastrophes, from the aftermath of WWII to the COVID19 pandemic across three dozen European countries

· Communicate effectively through class discussions, online discussion forums, short class presentations, and a presentation on the final research essay.

· Acquire skills for effective citizenship and life-long learning through the comparative study of European responses to catastrophes and the COVID-19 pandemic, and two class debates
putting that knowledge in dialogue with US responses.

Attendance: 15%

News post (in class presentation): 5%

5 short quizzes (responses to readings and webinars): 30%

In class paper presentation (on one European country's response to COVID 19): 20%
Final paper: 30%
Exam Format:
No exam
Class Format:

This is a hybrid online course, which means that we will meet on zoom twice a week, on Monday and Wednesday, for an interactive 90 minutes, and the rest of the time will be devoted to activities you can complete on your own at a suitable time.

Even though we will meet remotely, this course is conceived as a building of community as well as of knowledge. It will be a highly interactive learning experience, taught by a professor trained and experienced in on-line teaching, The course will include lectures on the weekly topics and readings; student presentations on European news (each student presents once during the term); regular group discussions in break out rooms and with the whole class; films, webinars, and two European guest speaker; and one final paper presentation in class. Your final paper examines the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in one European country, which you will choose.

On Mondays we will examine important and ongoing issues in European politics; on Wednesdays we will discuss the responses to COVD-19, which are related to these issues.


20-35 pages of reading per class; one news post; paper presentation; final paper; 5 short quizzes.

Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
2 June 2020

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