Political Palm Reading

Identity and Political Development

Do nations have identities?  What do people mean when they say “identity politics”? It is truly interesting to see how the identity of a nation and the identity of the individuals living in that nation influence one another.  Personal and group identities are inherently complex things, because both individuals and nations carry more than just one identity “label”; rather, we prioritize and emphasize our different identities in response to our environment. If this is the case, how do instances of hate politics, conservative/liberal leadership, or major Supreme Court decisions affect a nation’s identity? 

This course will explore the interesting and often turbulent intersection between personal identity and the identity of a nation and give you an understanding of the science in “political science”.  By joining this course you will get an introduction to how personal, group, and national identity influence one another – making you a more critical thinker, reader, consumer, and conversationalist.

In our week together we will focus on three major themes: 

  • Law as Culture - Do we create laws that reflect our values, or, do laws determine our values?
  • The Origins of Political Systems - Does Confucius-ism influence the politics of some Asian countries still today?
  • The Effects of Democracy and Authoritarianism on Identity - How do public freedoms impact our identity?

The major project for this class mirrors professional positions in a US national political administration and serving a regional experts/policy advisor in the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).  This experience will prepare you to evaluate context and evidence critically to make practical political decisions and negotiate counter arguments. 

You will leave this class better equipped to investigate and discuss how a nation develops and how the structure of law and government affect society.  Your ability to critically analyze will be enhanced and be put to the test as we explore country dossiers and major modern policy issues using a variety of academic readings, primary source materials, and media.  Think Mission Impossible meets Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.  I look forward to working with you soon! 

For additional course information and a welcome message from the instructor follow this link: Enrolled Student Information


  • Brian Boecherer, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Office of Early College Programs and a scholar in political science who focuses on law’s impact on society and political trust in new democracies.  His Pre-College Summer course is an adaptation from his popular UConn course for which he won a University teaching award.  Brian is an expert in the Post-Soviet Union with a special emphasis on Estonian political and social development. He has traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, and even spent an inspiring January in Siberia.

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At a Glance:

Sessions Offered:

  • Session 4: July 19th - July 25th

Location: UConn Storrs

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