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The Aquilian

    Beyond borders: Unlocking global perspectives with AP comparative government

    Chinese, Iranian, Nigerian, Mexican, Russian and British flag. (Left to right top row then bottom) Credit: PPT AP Comparative Government and Politics Fall 2013 PowerPoint Presentation ID:3891641

    As the deadline for applying to electives quickly approaches, students are asked the question of which classes they are truly interested in. One of those enriching electives is AP Comparative Government.

    Comparative Government, as described by the CollegeBoard, is “a comparative approach to examine the political structures; policies; and political, economic, and social challenges of six selected countries: China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Students cultivate their understanding of comparative government and politics through analysis of data and text-based sources as they explore topics like power and authority, legitimacy and stability, democratization, internal and external forces, and methods of political analysis.”

    “The class is a lot more current, it’s about the governments of these six countries right now, which makes it very unique,” said Mr. Curtin, who currently teaches the course. 

    That’s a long way of saying that the class at its core is an analysis of six major countries and their political systems to get a general scope of all the major ways of government in the world outside the United States. The goal of covering six countries is to see all of the different systems from unitary government all the way to a theocracy. 

    “It’s really interesting to learn about the government and history of different countries all over the world,” said Cash Bartenzen ‘24, who is currently in the course.

    His description of the class would make the CollegeBoard very happy; the overall goal is to make American students more rounded in talking about global political issues. They want the student to get outside the constraints of a simple American outlook on government and look at other ways of governing from a completely different scope.

    “I really enjoyed exploring and learning about foreign governments and seeing how their internal politics affected how they acted on a global scale,” said Jack Graser ‘24, who is also in the class. 

    His point should be well taken; in Comparative Government, students learn about the mindset of different governments and how that impacts decisions. For example, in the Russia unit, students learned about the idea of Russian destiny and how Ukraine is their ancestral capital, so that then tells students that from the perspective of a Russian, they feel like they are entitled to invade and take back the land that is rightfully theirs.

    Comparative Government is unlike any class a student will take at Gonzaga. Unlike the vast majority of histories offered at Gonzaga, there is no United States influence; in fact, students get points deducted if they mention the United States form of government.

    “I feel that AP Comparative Government is a unique course because of the non-linear approach in how we study these governments and how it teaches you how to recognize the similarities and differences in how countries operate,” said Brendan Rohde ‘24.

    The uniqueness cannot be understated; going from AP Euro to APUSH is a linear move, but APUSH to AP Comp Government is a completely different story. Instead of focusing on which president did what, it’s now about why China does not give their people rights and why the UK goes the completely opposite direction.

    “Analyzing, discussing and comparing governments like Russia, China and Mexico helps to provide context and reasoning behind the decisions they make on the world stage. AP Comparative Government also, in a way, humanizes governments by letting us see beyond the American perspective,” said Hayden Wierzba ‘24. 

    Humanization is an extremely important thing; understanding how and why countries make decisions and having some understanding of that allows us as Americans to understand their geopolitical decisions and have empathy. It’s really easy to drop a bomb on a hated enemy, but a country and culture that you appreciate is a different ordeal.

    Comparative Government gives the tools to see and recognize others, and that allows American students, especially here at Gonzaga, to empathize and love our neighbor as we are called to do, so when you go to fill out which classes you want to take next year, you could hear more about America and our system, or you can learn about the systems of the world and how they fit together.

    Course application for AP classes ends this Friday, Feb.2, be sure to sign up before then. Finally, remember that applying for a class doesn’t mean that you have to take it so be sure to apply because you don’t want to be at course selection wishing you had applied for the class.

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