Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Intro to Political Theory (Edward Erikson)

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Course description[edit]

The following course seeks to investigate conceptions and practices of democracy through an engagement with historical and contemporary political thought. The course is an introduction to political theory and an invitation to engage in the ongoing discussion and debate that constitutes political theory. Students are encouraged to consider the texts selected for this course as part of the conversation that will play out in seminar. The conversation will not be limited to traditional texts, but will also take into consideration our own political practices and cultural consumption: film, videos, music, art, web etc. What we might call ‘theory by other means.’ How might we read these as texts alongside traditional political philosophy? How do they contribute to or problematize our understanding of democracy?

Questions we’ll consider throughout the course include, but are not limited to: What is democracy? How are democracies founded? Is democracy the best form of governance? How do we confront the limitations of democracy? What counts as “democratic practice”? Where do democratic practices take place? How/where do we experience ourselves as democratic subjects? What distinguishes democratic subjectivity?

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Edward Erikson (talk)
Campus Ambassadors
Kevin Rutherford
Online Ambassadors
Bejinhan, Sonia


Week 1: Wikipedia Essentials[edit]

In class
  • Overview of the course
  • Introduction to how Wikipedia will be used in the course
  • Handout: Welcome to Wikipedia (available in print or online from the Wikimedia Foundation)

Week 2: Editing basics[edit]

In class
Optional Reading
  • Read Five pillars, a explanation of Wikipedia's basic rules and principles
Assignments (due week 3)
(See this and this for example assignments.)
  • Create a Wikipedia account, create a user page, and sign up on the list of students on the course page.
  • To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, introduce yourself to one of the class's Online Ambassadors (via talk page), and leave a message for a classmate on their user talk page.
  • All students have Wikipedia user accounts and are listed on the course page.

Week 3: Exploring the topic area[edit]

In class
Assignments (due week 4)
  • Critically evaluate an existing Wikipedia article related to the class, and leave suggestions for improving it on the article's discussion page.
  • Research and list 3–5 articles on your Wikipedia user page that you will consider working on as your main project. Ask your class's Online Ambassadors for comments.

Week 4: Using sources[edit]

In class

Week 5: Choosing articles[edit]

In class
  • Discuss the range of topics students will be working on and strategies for researching and writing about them.
Assignments (due week 6)
  • Select an article to work on, removing the rest from the course page.
  • Compile a bibliography of relevant research and post it to the talk page of the article you are working on. Begin reading the sources.

Week 6: Drafting starter articles[edit]

In class
  • Instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors talk about Wikipedia culture & etiquette, and [optionally] introduce the concept of sandboxes and how to use them.
  • Q&A session with instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors about interacting on Wikipedia and getting started with writing
  • Video resource: Sandbox tutorial
Assignments (due week 7)
  • If you are starting a new article, write a 3–4 paragraph summary version of your article (with citations) in your Wikipedia sandbox. If you are improving an existing article, write a summary version reflecting the content the article will have after it's been improved, and post this along with a brief description of your plans on the article's talk page.
  • Begin working with classmates and Online Ambassadors to polish your short starter article and fix any major transgressions of Wikipedia norms.
  • Continue research in preparation for expanding your article.
  • All students have started editing articles or drafts on Wikipedia.

Week 7: Did you know[edit]

In class
Wiki assignments (due week 8)
  • Move sandbox articles into main space.
  • For new articles or qualifying expansions of stubs, compose a one-sentence "hook," nominate it for "Did you know," and monitor the nomination for any issues identified by other editors.
  • Begin expanding your article into a comprehensive treatment of the topic.

Week 8: Building articles[edit]

In class or outside of class
Wiki assignments (due week 9)
  • Expand your article into an initial draft of a comprehensive treatment of the topic.
  • Select two classmates' articles that you will peer review and copy-edit. (You don't need to start reviewing yet.)

Week 9: Getting and Giving Feedback[edit]

In class
  • Open discussion of the concepts of neutrality, media literacy, and the impact and limits of Wikipedia
Wiki assignments (due week 10)
  • Make edits to your article based on peers' feedback.
  • Nominate your article for Good Article status.
  • Prepare for an in-class presentation about your Wikipedia editing experience.


This table will list each article that a student is working on, and which other students will be peer reviewers for the article.

Wilson (Carol) Galloway v. United States 1st reviewer 2nd reviewer
User:bcole187 Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, Inc. open open
User:pcappiel Frisby v. Schultz open open
User:Bric360 United States V. Mendenhall open open
User:Ghostsena Vasquez v. Hillery open open
User:Kmc23 Carey v. Population Services International open open
User:jzaizar Capitol Sq. Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette open open
User: Remcginty Deck v. Missouri open open
User:Klawrence408 Clark v. Martinez open open
User: jsprik Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County open open
User: apkinch United States v. Grimaud open open
User: Davidcaggiano Bounds v. Smith open open
User:Jbhorn74 Estelle v. Williams open open
User:jar2112 Smith v. California open open
User:epopp16 Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse open open
User:Daucoin13 Wainwright v. Witt open open
User:Sandler.Emma Stack v. Boyle open open
User:Pct914 Pennsylvania v. Mimms open open
User:Wfritz Williams et al. v. State of North Carolina open open
User:SOW93 Department of Justice v. Landano open open
User:Jarons21 Nixon v. General Services Administration open open
User:pfs33 United States v. Janis open open
User:ariana 1993 Secularism in Israel open open
User:vandijki11 Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Delgado open open
User:eelshrafi27 United States v. Valenzuela-Bernal open open
User:jromags M.L.B. v. S.L.J. open open
User:Cbelisle Clark v. C.C.N.V. open open
User:Cjmoriarty Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner open open
User:WillSnail County of Riverside v. McLaughlin open open

Article banners

To mark each article the subject of a student project, add the following code at the top of the talk page for each article: {{ WAP assignment | course = Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Intro to Political Theory (Edward Erikson) | university = University of Massachusetts, Amherst | term = 2011 Q3 | project = WikiProject Politics }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):


Wikipedia contributions will be graded as follows:

  • 25%: Participation and Attendance
  • 25%: Wikipedia Article
  • 30%: Final Essay
  • 20%: Reading Responses


Add your username to the list here using the format for Example User below: