PS 230 - URBAN POLITICS
Ken De Bevoise
OFFICE HOURS: 2:00 - 4:00 F or appointment
THE COURSE: We will try to understand political, economic, and social aspects of the American inner city and their inter-dynamics through in-depth and intense reading and argumentative discussion in class of important issues raised by current books and articles. The basic focus is on how American cities work and how it is to live in one. The greatest emphasis is on the disadvantaged parts of big cities and the daily lives of people trapped there.
REQUIRED READING: (Note: this is merely representative and is tentative. There will be changes and additions before the list is finalized in December. The U of O Bookstore will have the complete list as well as the books themselves. Please be sure to have the first book on that list in hand before the first class meeting.
1. Claude Brown, Manchild in the Promised Land
2. Robert Caro, The Power Broker
3. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
4. Alex Kotlowitz, There Are No Children Here
5. David Simon, The Corner
CLASS PROCEDURE: My courses are run in a somewhat non-traditional way. We have no lectures, no formal mid-terms, no term paper, and no formal final examination. Instead, we have a quiz on the assigned reading during the first 10-15 minutes of EVERY class meeting including on the final exam day. That means about 19 graded tests. All count the same, so for instance, the last quiz of the quarter is weighted the same as the first one. After the daily quiz, the remaining hour and ten minutes of class is conducted wholly as argumentative discussion between the students on issues raised by the course readings.
GRADING: The base grade is your average of the 19 (or so) quiz scores. (Standard equivalencies apply - 90%-100% = A; 80%-89.9% = B; 70%-79.9% = C; 60%-69.9% = D; 0%-59.9% = F. The grades are NOT curved.) That average quiz grade is then adjusted up or down somewhat by your performance in class discussion, which in turn is based on the extent of your participation relative to the others in the class. I usually use a sliding scale of minus 7% - plus 7%. Your quiz average is then multiplied by your discussion percentage and that gives your final grade. (
EXAMPLE: Suppose your quiz average is 85%. Thatís a base grade of B. Suppose further that your place on the comparative discussion scale is plus 7% - the most possible. 85% x .07 = 5.95 %. Added together gives you 90.95%, which equals A-, your final grade. But suppose your discussion grade was minus 7%. The calculation would be 85% - 5.95 = 79.05 = C+. Thus, you control a reasonably wide grade differential by the degree of your participation or non-participation in the argumentative discussion.)
GENERAL COURSE POLICIES: EXPECTATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
1. Attendance is expected at every class meeting. You will be excused from the quiz only in the case of a DOCUMENTED EMERGENCY. No exceptions. No make-ups ever.
2. You are required to be in class for the entire class period. Do not enroll if you know that youíll have to leave early to catch your bus home or whatever. Do not come for the daily quiz and then leave before the end of the class. Your quiz will not be graded and youíll receive a zero on it.
3. You are expected to be an eager and regular participant in the class discussion. If you can not do that, for whatever reason, please do not sign up for the class. The argumentative discussions are crucial to your learning and to the class dynamics.
4. You are responsible for having the book we are reading at the time we start reading it. No excuses accepted.
5. Students with disabilities will be accommodated. Please contact Disability Services, 164 Oregon Hall, 346-1155, and they will then advise me as to how to meet your needs.