PSCI 410
Senior Seminar in American Politics Spring 2015
Division II
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The United States of 2015 is considerably different from the United States of 1787. Over the past two hundred and near forty 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, technologically dynamic and urban. 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, 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 were the claims of justice and freedom that were the basis of the constitution and the American political institutions thereby created? These claims offer us some normative standards we can use as the basis 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? And, if not, what should be added, retracted, or changed?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 13
Class#: 4101
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
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