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date: 13 August 2020

Summary and Keywords

A review of undergraduate course offerings at top-ranked colleges and universities in the United States and analysis of course syllabi from undergraduate programs in political science have revealed certain trends in the teaching post-communist politics. For instance, majority of schools now offer post-communist politics courses, although a student at a national university is more likely than one at a liberal arts institution to have the opportunity to learn about the region. Regardless of the type of school, students will most commonly study post-communism from a comparative, rather than international relations, perspective. Comparative courses usually focus on Russia and East Central Europe. Undergraduates curious about why a course on Russian politics matters will most often find syllabi that present the course as an examination of one of the most “dramatic political events of the twentieth century.” The examination of political change and continuing instability or chaos in Russian politics is another common theme. A few syllabi structure the course around theoretical concerns of the discipline and practical policy questions, framing the semester as a study of the quality and scope of democracy in Russia since the end of communism. East Central European (ECE) politics courses encompass multiple states, which creates opportunities and challenges not present in teaching Russian politics. Undergraduates are most likely introduced to East Central Europe through a thematic study of the entire region rather than extensive, individual country case studies.

Keywords: teaching, post-communist politics, political science, pedagogy, undergraduate students, American college students, Russian politics, East Central European politics

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