The Empire Strikes Back
Foun 097 - 49
Course Specifics


Yoda: A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serioius mind....So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?

Luke: Master, moving stones around is one thing . This is totally different.

Yoda: No! No different! Onl different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned. ESB V


FOUN 097-49/Fall 2006

INSTRUCTOR: Jean Shackelford

OFFICE HOURS: W 9-12 , Others by appointment (Coleman 165)

ADDRESSES: e-mail:, phone: X- 73441

Many texts are devoted to examining the history or past empires and the current state of the U.S. empire and the new imperialism. The 2005 George Lucas film, Revenge of the Sith, reminded us of the “dark side” of empire, but this critical examination and review will focus not just on empires dark side, but on its complexity. This course is designed to study the economic causes of empire and to examine the resulting social, political, cultural and other economic consequences. Over the semester we will read books, essays, and articles that examine empire in the 21st century and that remind us of some ancient and not so ancient empires and their goals. We will view videos, listen to podcasts and examine recent events directly related to empire and empire building.


* Benjamin R. Barber, Fear’s Empire: War, Terrorism, and Democracy, W.W. Norton, 2004.
* Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire, The Penguin Press, 2004.
* THE NEW YORK TIMES - Monday thru Friday
* Additional reading assignments are on e-reserve and others will be handed out during the semester.
* War in Lebanon - daily update: BBC | NYTimes

CLASS SESSIONS: Class periods will be devoted to discussion of the assigned readings, projects, videos, and/or Podcasts and assigned questions that focus on these assigned materials. In our discussions you should feel free to express your own views about the ideas presented in the readings. Please raise questions about the readings as well as any comments you might have on the ideas we are studying or how the ideas of various authors relate to those of another.

We will study ideas that offer a number of views and perspectives of the 1990s and will consider arguments which range from the abstract to overly concrete. Some of these ideas have probably influenced your thinking. And, they may have even affected your behavior! (Keep a list of what those might be.) The opportunity to compare your ideas with the ideas of authors commenting on the events of the nineties, and to use your imagination to perhaps re-envision some of the lessons we might take from this period are two of the most important challenges of this course, and if taken seriously, are important lessons to take from the course.

GOALS for this Foundations Seminar:

One of the goals of Foundations Seminars is to help you begin to "negotiate the complexities of the modern world." Perhaps a goal of this particular seminar is to help you understand these complexities and help you chart the waters so you might better navigate your future journeys. Projects will be designed to help you further your analytical skills, be a bit more reflective and creative and understand diverse viewpoints that should serve you well as you continue to explore ideas throughout your life. You will be reading, writing, listening, and speaking. You will also examine material that will explore where the web leaves off and the library begins--and how to use each effectively.


Assigned readings, projects and videos provide the structure and the context for each class session. There is of course no scripted discussion of the material. Those will be constructed class by class. For each of the class periods you are invited to confront ideas, concepts, policies, facts, data, in the context of the ideas of economists, political scientists, sociologists, historians and the role of the media, and popular culture.

You will be graded on a combination of written and oral assignments and projects. The following criteria will be used for course evaluation:

  • Class Discussion
1. Preparation of assigned materials and reflection about questions that might arise in each reading assignment.
Make notes and jot down "muddy points" in your journal--and respond to them after class discussion.
List connections (and "disconnects") that you find between your "learning goals" and ideas or attitudes or behaviors you observe in
your assignments.
2. Voluntary participation in class discussions.
3. Frequency of participation.
4. Quality of participation.
5. Creating and asking questions about the ideas involved in class readings, projects and videos.
  • Written Assignments
1. A course journal. You will keep a journal to record your reflections on readings, current issues in public policy, economic trends, the media, popular culture, and new technologies of empire.
2. Often you will be asked to prepare short written answers for class (sometimes for your journal) in which you discuss a specific question, reading or handout. These short essays should demonstrate all aspects of the writing process, including thinking through the argument, stating the argument clearly and revising the answer if necessary.
When these papers are returned, please collect them in a folder that you will hand in on the last day of class.
3. Short paper/oral presentation and/or (perhaps) a Web or an iPod project. As the semester progresses you will be assigned a 6-10 page paper. At the end of the semester, oral summaries of these papers and projects will be presented to the class.
4. Group projects. Occasionally you will be asked to work in groups or teams to collaborate on a project. Generally there will be a written report at the end of the exercise.
  • CLASS PARTICIPATION -You are expected to come to all class sessions, to have done assigned reading, and to contribute actively. Your class participation will be evaluated in the standards below.
A - 4.0 Excellent. Perfect attendance. Always well prepared. Contributes actively in almost all sessions, in making contributions and in reacting to those of others.
B - 3.0 Good. Only missed two or three class/sessions. Almost always came well prepared. Usually contributed actively, both in making contributions and reacting to others.
C - 2.0 Satisfactory. Attendance at least 80%. Usually came prepared. Contributed actively in about half of the sessions.
D - 1.0 Unsatisfactory. Attendance at least 70%. Prepared about half of the time. Contributed actively in at least 20% of our sessions.
F - 0.0 Fail. Attendance spotty. Preparation poor. Little active participation.

Please remember that every class period is a final exam. Don't miss a daily final.

If you would like to discuss your written work or class participation, please feel free to stop in my office, (Coleman A165) to discuss your progress.

The following passage is taken from the academic regulations section of the Bucknell University Catalog:

"Bucknell students are responsible for the preparation and presentation of work representing their own efforts. Acceptance of this responsibility is essential to the educational process and must be considered as an expression of mutual trust, the foundation upon which creative scholarship rests. Students are directed to use great care when preparing all written work and to acknowledge fully the source of all ideas and language other than their own."
I fully support the above principles and the institutional process that deals with violations of academic responsibility at Bucknell. I will not hesitate to initiate this process if the above mentioned “mutual trust” is violated in my course. In addition, it is important that you recognize that there may be instances when collaboration is appropriate in my class and other instances when it is not. Absent specific instructions to the contrary, you are to assume that all assignments are to be completed without collaboration. Finally, in acknowledging the source of all ideas and language other than your own, you must cite the creator of Internet posted information just as you would an author of a textbook, a journal article, a reference book, emails, or personal conversations from which your have used information or ideas.

CLASS ETIQUETTE - Please make sure that you leave early enough to arrive in class on time. Please make sure that your cell phone is turned off--or assigned to silence. Also make sure that you are prepared to remain in class for the full period. It is disruptive for the class when someone wanders in and out of class after it has begun. (Certainly, if you find yourself in the middle of a coughing fit, please feel free to go get a drink of water, otherwise, please wait until class is over.)

Last updated, August 2006 please contact Jean Shackelford, Department of Economics, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837.