Archive for January, 2009

Concepts Maps in Teaching Political Theory

January 20, 2009

A couple of years ago I became enamored of concept mapping, and did a lot of work to integrate concept maps into teaching political theory.  I made diagrams of the argument in Book 1 of Plato’s Republic, of Hobbes’s account of the sources of social conflict, of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, or Rousseau’s Social Contract.  Here’s one that’s intended to capture the structure of Locke’s defense of toleration:

The main elements of Locke's argument for toleration

The main elements of Locke's argument for toleration

I found these maps very illuminating, but some (many?) of my students found them too confusing.  “Couldn’t you simplify it a bit more, into a list of bullets?”  Well, yes… but what fun would that be?  It’s the complexity that’s interesting.  Probably my mistake was to introduce the full complexity up front, instead of giving the students the elements and having them figure out the map (or the alternatve possible maps).  As usual, too top-down, not interactive enough.

I also ran into a technical problem, however, that has deterred me from creating more of these. (more…)

Draft POLS451 Reading List

January 2, 2009

This is a tentative list of the required readings for my upcoming seminar on religion and politics, which will focus on the question of the relationship between religious toleration and public reason.

Week 1: Introduction 

Week 2: The Christian Debate

  • Joseph Lecler, Toleration and the Reformation (New York: Association Press, 1960).Volume1, Chapters 1-4 (Old Testament – Medieval).
  • Istvan Bejczy, “Tolerantia: A Medieval Concept,” Journal of the History of Ideas 58, no. 3 (1997): 365-84. 
  • Roland Bainton, “Sebastian Castellio and the Toleration Controversy of the 16th Century,” in Persecution and Liberty; Essays in Honor of George Lincoln Burr (New York: The Century Co, 1931).

(more…)