Introduction to Political Ideologies

John Schwarz's picture

This course will be an overview of political ideologies. It will explain what ideologies are conceptually, explain and define specific, major ideologies, and address the relationship between ideologies in theory and as the labels are applied in practice. Ideologies can be considered at times as description and at other times as prescription. The label and concept meta-narrative will sometimes be used to refer to ideologies and other broad ideas about how to organize political communities and behavior.


There will be an initial defining of the concept of ideology and setting up general categories of issues they address in order to understand given ones.  Then individual ideologies will be reviewed and explained. The major ideologies to be addressed are: Democracy, Liberalism, Capitalism, Social Democracy, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Monarchy, Libertarian, and Anarchism. The review will include looking at key similarities and differences, with emphasis on governing structures and economic systems.


Prerequisites: Very basic understanding of governments, economics, political principles. Emphasis on lecture and discussion. Suggested readings, none required.  No assignments, but instructor willing to evaluate any written work students want to submit.

Facilitator email(s): 
[email protected]
Facilitator's experience: 
John M. Schwarz has a Master’s degree in Government from Cornell University, having spent three years as a PhD student in the Government department. His first field was political theory; political economy was his second field. He passed the PhD qualifying exam in political theory. He was a Teaching Assistant at Cornell for 2 years, including for the Introduction to Political Theory course. He’s Director of United Health System (no relation to the HMO), a non-profit health policy think-tank and is a progressive health reform activist. A frequent testifier at the Legislature, he was appointed to the Legislature’s Single Payer Working Group in 2007 and was main author of its final report. He is a member of the American Political Science Association and the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. He taught two EXCO courses in Summer 2009 - “Health System Overview” and “Governing Society: Politics, Economics, and Public Policy.” He is teaching "Debating the Health Care System: Ethics, Access, and Politics" in the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Department this Winter.
Facilitator phone number(s): 
(651) 442-8899
Class minimum size: 
Class maximum size: 
Class times: 
Tue, 04/06/2010 - 18:30 - 19:30
Tue, 04/13/2010 - 18:30 - 19:30
Tue, 04/20/2010 - 18:30 - 19:30
Tue, 04/27/2010 - 18:30 - 19:30
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 18:30 - 19:30
Additional class time information: 
Class start/end dates subject to variance
Additional class location information: 
U of MN or Macalester campus preferred; somewhere in St. Paul or Mpls otherwise.
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