Politics Today RAP
Fall 2014

  • Should people who don't vote pay a fine?
  • What's the "debt ceiling" and how does it affect me?
  • Why do countries go to war, and why are some able to maintain peace?
  • How can I become more involved in politics?

If you are interested in any of these questions, or any other issues related to politics, the Politics Today RAP is for you!

In the Politics Today RAP, we will:

  • Discuss current political controversies - from student loan rates to global climate change.
  • Learn issues from multiple perspectives.
  • Follow current political events together.
  • Explore ways to become active political participants.
  • Meet people in and out of the university who are involved in politics in different ways.

When you join this RAP you will...

  • Enroll in a small section of a Political Science course.
  • Share your living-and-learning experience with other curious and committed students interested in political issues.
  • Make connections with faculty and advisors in the Department of Political Science and learn about majors and minors that might be of interest to you.
  • Discover a variety of ways to 'be involved' in politics regardless of your academic area of study.

Politics plays a role in our daily lives - everything from the stop sign at the end of your street to military conflicts abroad. We interact with politics in various forms and at different levels, and often overlook the ways that political issues directly influence us.

Whether you're already engaged in politics or interested in learning more, you will find a variety of exciting discussions and activities in this RAP!

Specific Course Information

"Introduction to Political Theory" (Poli Sci 171) for students living together in Pierpont Hall.

Here is a message about the course from Alix Olson, the instructor:

In this introductory course, we will critically investigate some of the key philosophies and questions that have shaped contemporary political thought and ways of life.

I will invite you to find the connections between texts that have held the attention of political theorists over time and your present day experience of the personal and the political. In this way, we will combine close textual readings with discussion and lively debate and discussion. During this course you will also learn to assess and to craft a convincing and interesting argument that is your own. The class conversation will not be limited to traditional texts, but will also take into consideration our own political practices and cultural consumption including film, videos, music, art, etc.- what we might call "theory by other means".

How might we read these cultural forms as texts alongside traditional political philosophy? How do they contribute to or problematize our understanding of democracy and of politics more generally?




Politics Today RAP is intended for students declared in any major or undeclared.

Be sure to visit the How to Join page on this website to learn about the process and important timelines you must follow to become a member of this fantastic program! 

Classes and Location

Fall 2014

ALL students in the Politics Today RAP will enroll in the following classes taught in the residential area:

"Rap Seminar"- UNIV 190R
1 credit


Gen Ed class
(4 credits) specific to each location:

"Comparative Politics" - Political Science 111 (Gen Ed SBG) Students will live together in Webster Hall  in Orchard Hill area of campus.


"Introduction to Political Theory"- Political Science 171 (Gen Ed SB) Students will live together in Pierpont Hall in Southwest area of campus.


"College Writing" - English 112 (Gen Ed CW), 3 credits, a limited number of sections will be offered in each residential area both fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters.

Spring 2015

  • No required RAP classes
  • Small sections of Gen Ed classes will be offered in each residence area

Pamela R. Marsh-Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost & Dean

This website is part of Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities. We provide undergraduate students a variety of opportunities and services designed to facilitate the best academic experience possible. 609 Goodell Building, UMass Amherst.

UA&LC Units: Undergraduate Advising, Residential Academic Programs, Domestic Exchange Programs, Five College Interchange