Read these requirements carefully.  Please copy them and put them with your other printed materials.


I love to read.  We will do a lot of reading in this seminar.

Required Books:

You must buy hard copies of the three books below. No kindles or other electronic formats. Otherwise, you will not be able to refer to the readings in class.

Sophia Rosenfeld, Democracy and Truth: A Short History
Lee McIntyre, Post Truth
Václav Havel, Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990

Don’t worry! I don’t want to disappoint you. We will read a lot more than these three books.

Readings on this Syllabus

One of the main reasons I only use web-based syllabi is to save you $$$.  Thus, you will find the majority of your readings on this Syllabus. I will also provide you with hand-outs.  You must read everything. Rest assured, I can always tell in our discussions that you have done the readings.

Our class discussions will only work well if you have these readings physically in front of you.  Therefore, please remember these rules:

1) Copy and print all of the readings on this site that are marked PRINT. Otherwise, you do not need to copy them—but I will assume that you have READ and TAKEN NOTES on them. (Should I have quizzes to check that you are doing this?)

2) Bring each required reading to class on the day we are scheduled to discuss it. Again: discussions will only work if you have the material right in front of you.

It is likely that we will use major newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, for some assignments in this class. You can get access to them through Factiva. To find Factiva, click on the Research tab in the Hesburgh collection, then on Databases.

Please do not use Kindles, Laptops, I-Phones, or similar electronic devices in our seminar.  They are distracting and do not facilitate learning.

Other Media

I love to look at things.  We will watch at least one film.  I have included other types of media on the Course Syllabus.  I encourage you to use visual and audio media when you lead class discussions.  Please send me the relevant photos and links beforehand, and I will post them on this Syllabus

Class Visits

The Age of Corona has encouraged me to arrange virtual visits by distinguished figures.  We will host some great visitors this semester.


I also love discussions. All of our class sessions will be based on speaking with each other. I will give no lectures.  Each of you will have the honor of serving as a discussion leader several times during the semester.  To the extent that I am able, I will resist the  temptation to monopolize discussions.  Your challenge, if you will accept it, is to restrain me when I fail to abide my maxim.  By the end of our class, you should not need me at all.


It is a special privilege to take a seminar.  You should treat our seminar accordingly.  Seminars are small and they allow for intimate and lively discussions.  They also provide me with the pleasant opportunity to work closely with each of you as individuals.

My aspirations are quite modest.  If I can enhance your ability to speak, read, write, think critically, and persuade, I shall be pleased.  These objectives are reflected in the breakdown of my grading standard.

    • Participation and Short Assignments (35%)
    • Two Reflective Essays (15% each)
    • Semester Essay (35%)

In the interest of being fair to all of your classmates, I will dock assignments 1/3 of a letter grade for each day they are late.

To receive a passing grade in this class, you must visit me during my virtual office hours at least one time this semester.  Please do not make me sweat over your ability to live up to this arduous requirement.


Class attendance is MANDATORY.   If you are ill, please send me an email as well as a statement from the health clinic so that I do not worry about you. Unless you are ill, you must consult with me beforehand if you know you will miss a class. University-approved absences are fine, but please remind me beforehand if you will be gone.

Honor Code

This seminar is based upon the collective exchange of ideas and insights. Therefore, I welcome all of the conversations you have with each other, inside or outside class.  You are free to discuss your readings and writing assignments with each other (with the exception of your final essay).  In fact, I encourage it. However, every writing assignment you turn in to me must be clearly, unmistakably, and unequivocally your own work!

Office Hours

I enjoy meeting with all of my students, and I hope to see each of you on a regular basis. Because I am a teacher by vocation, I particularly welcome the opportunity to get to know each of my students on a personalistic basis. When you visit, you do not need to have specific questions about the class.  I view your education holistically, and I am interested in learning about–and following–your adventures.

My office hours are Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 and Wednesdays 2:00-4:00, as well as by appointment.  I am situated in room 2080 in Nanovic Hall, just a couple doors down from the Political Science department.

Visit me soon!