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What is Politics? [Presentation Thursdays] July 16, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking, Presentations.
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The first class I ever taught — in my brief career lecturing at my alma mater — was for a course on Philippine Politics and Governance. In another lifetime (i.e. when I was a student), the course was called “Fundamentals of Politics”, and between the two titles it’s easy enough to piece together what the course is about. All told, the purpose of the course (required for undergraduates under a liberal arts curriculum) was to introduce basic principles in politics and be the requisite course on the Philippine constitution, by and large a very practical way to get students to understand the subject.

Here are the slides from my introductory lecture:

This was back in the day when Powerpoint XP was cutting edge, and way before I moved to a Mac (and thereby, Keynote) or read Presentation Zen. As such, the slides are somewhat cringe-inducing (to me anyway), albeit in a nostalgic way. Obviously, the slide template leaves much to be desired, and at the time I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the important terms in different colored font (I overdid it), but at least I got the whole “use an overview slide” routine down from day one. So all in all, serviceable slides that got the job done.

Content-wise, the purpose of the lecture was really simple: get students to start thinking about why some acts are “political” while others are not. Famously, the one question that just has to be asked during the course of the lecture is “Is brushing your teeth political?” Classic stuff. I also made it a point to make use of the late Bernard Crick’s definition of politics as “the conciliation of diverse interests in society” (from In Defence of Politics), as that was instrumental to getting me heavily interested in the subject in another lifetime (again, when I was a student).

Alas, the other sources I referred in the course of preparing the lecture were on the syllabus but currently escape me, particularly the bit about political predicaments. There’s also the token reference to Aristotle not just because it’s de rigueur, but because I also happened to be teaching a course on Political Thought at the time.

[About Presentation Thursdays: Every now and then, on a Thursday, I post a presentation from my archives and include some accompanying commentary not just about the content but also my thoughts on designing it. The presentations can also be viewed and downloaded from my Slideshare page (Creative Commons license applies).]

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