PSCI 410
Senior Seminar in American Politics Spring 2010
Division II
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Class Details

The United States of 2009-2010 is considerably different from the United States of 1787. Over the past two hundred and twenty plus years the population has grown by many multiples, the character of the society has changed from part slave, agricultural and mercantilist to increasingly democratic, liberal, urban and free-market. Further, the United States of 1787 had recently won its freedom from the major imperial power of the period, England (thereby changing its status from colony to sovereign nation). Now, the United States is the major imperial power of the world (even if bedeviled by anti-American movements of various kinds). Beyond these differences are innumerable others–demographic, institutional, technological and political. The focus of the American Politics senior seminar for this year is whether the Constitutional Framework and the rationales that justified those arrangements remain well suited to our current circumstances. And, if not, what could or should be done to redress that ill fit. There are two considerations that will broadly shape our deliberations and discussions this semester. The first consideration will be an analytic one: what claims of justice and freedom are embedded in American political institutions? These claims form the normative standards we can use to judge the success of American democracy, then and now. Which in turn raises the second question: are these foundational views, as best we can understand them, adequate to our times?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 13
Class#: 3213
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation and research paper
Prerequisites: one course in American politics or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: senior Political Science majors with a concentration in American Politics
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Research Courses

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