Modern Political and Economic Ideas – GOVT 302

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/17/2022

Course Description

Survey of political and economic thought since the 16th century including the Christian influence in the development of modern Western freedom and justice. Emphasis will be placed on the emergence and scope of the disciplines of economics, political science, public administration and public policy.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The primary purpose of this course is to help the student understand two competing modern narratives used to explain and justify the relationship between freedom and justice. One narrative prizes justice above all, defining it in terms of economic equality, and subordinating individual liberty. The other narrative prizes individual liberty above all, accepting that the protection of individual liberty will lead to unequal economic outcomes. Students will learn to evaluate these narratives in light of a Christian worldview.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify the major concepts in modern political and economic philosophies.
  2. Compare modern political and economic philosophies showing where Christianity agrees and differs with the ideas of modern political thinkers.
  3. Analyze political concepts.
  4. Assess the impact various thinkers have had on our current political situations.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread per each of the 5 Discussions. Each thread must be at least 300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. Each thread must also include at least 3 relevant citations in current APA format. (Students should cite from both of our assigned source volumes, but are discouraged from citing sources that have not been assigned.) In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates' threads. Each reply must be at least 50 words long.

Essay: Introduction and Thesis Sentence Assignment

Essays are exercises in persuasive writing. In every academic and professional setting you may find yourself in, you will be expected to write (and speak) persuasively. Writing (and speaking) persuasively is a skill that you can develop and master. To master this skill, one must become adept at: stating clearly what position they want their reader (or listener) to adopt; using evidence confidently and convincingly to support that position; and drawing compelling conclusions from your evidence.

Every successful essay begins with a first sentence that captures the reader’s interest, continues with an introductory paragraph that convinces the reader that the essay will say something interesting and important, and closes that introductory paragraph with a clear thesis sentence that states concisely the argument that the essay will make.

This Introduction and Thesis portion of the Essay Assignment is intended to help you develop skill in writing a strong introductory paragraph and thesis sentence.

Essay: Outline Assignment

In this assignment, you will be asked to revise your introduction paragraph and thesis sentence based on feedback you were given on the Introduction and Thesis Sentence Assignment. You will then provide an outline detailing how you intend to defend your thesis sentence. In addition to your revised Introduction and Thesis Sentence, this Outline Assignment should include at least three main points, each of which must contain at least two quotations from one of our assigned sources or the Bible, properly cited, with an explanation for how it supports your key point.

Essay: Final Assignment

Your Essay Assignment in this course is expected to address the following prompt, in an essay of 4-6 pages in length:

The two chief values in modern political and economic thought are liberty and equality. In general, one modern narrative places the value of individual liberty most highly, and argues that individual liberty is best promoted through some form of private property, and best protected through a government of limited and defined powers. The other modern narrative places the value of equality most highly and argues that equality is best promoted through the limitation or abolition of private property, and best established through a government possessing extensive and centralized powers. But both modern narratives recognize that liberty and equality will never be perfectly balanced; one value will always be dominant over the other.

Write an essay in which you explain why either liberty or equality should be the dominant value in modern politics. Do we better secure both values of liberty and equality by prioritizing liberty, or by prioritizing equality? What dangers might we foresee if we prioritize the wrong value?

Defend your response by drawing from our assigned primary and secondary sources, and by evaluating these arguments in light of Christian scripture and teaching.