Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Articles

AP Comparative Government and Politics

The AP course in Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to fundamental concepts used by political scientists to study the processes and outcomes of politics in a variety of country settings. The course aims to illustrate the rich diversity of political life, to show available institutional alternatives, to explain differences in processes and policy outcomes, and to communicate to students the importance of global political and economic changes. Comparison assists both in identifying problems and in analyzing policymaking. For example, we only know that a country has a high population growth rate or serious corruption when we compare it to other countries. Careful comparison of political systems produces useful knowledge about the policies countries have effectively initiated to address problems, or, indeed, what they have done to make things worse. We can compare the effectiveness of policy approaches to poverty or overpopulation by examining how different countries solve similar problems. Furthermore, by comparing the political institutions and practices of wealthy and poor countries, we can begin to understand the political consequences of economic wellbeing. Finally, comparison assists explanation. Why are some countries stable democracies and not others? Why do many democracies have prime ministers instead of presidents?

In addition to covering the major concepts that are used to organize and interpret what we know about political phenomena and relationships, the course should cover specific countries and their governments. Six countries form the core of the AP Comparative Government and Politics course. China, Great Britain, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia are all regularly covered in college-level introductory comparative politics courses. The inclusion of Iran adds a political system from a very important region of the world and one that is subject to distinctive political and cultural dynamics. By using these six core countries, the course can move the discussion of concepts from abstract definition to concrete example, noting that not all concepts will be equally useful in all country settings.