PSCI 218
The American Presidency Spring 2021
Division II
Cross-listed LEAD 218
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Class Details

Many argue that the presidency has been fundamentally changed by the tenure of Donald Trump. Is this right? To study the presidency is to study human nature and individual personality, constitution and institution, rules and norms, strategy and contingency. This course will examine the problems and paradoxes that attend the exercise of the most powerful political office in the world’s oldest democracy: Can an executive office be constructed with sufficient energy to govern and also be democratically accountable? What are the limits on presidential power? How much do we attribute the shaping of politics to the agency of the individual in the office and to what extent are politics the result of structural, cultural, and institutional factors? Are the politics of the presidency different in foreign and domestic policy? How are national security concerns balanced with the protection of civil rights and liberties? How is the office and purpose of the presidency affected by an economic order predicated on private capital? By the character of the occupant? Exploration of these and other questions will lead us to examine topics such as presidential selection, the bases of presidential power, character and leadership issues, congressional-executive interactions, social movement and interest group relations, and the media. Attention will focus largely on the modern presidency, though older historical examples will also be used to help us gain perspective on these problems.
The Class: Format: seminar; This course will be taught as a hybrid class, with a mixture of in-person and remote sessions for all students. The course will feature both seminar discussion and several small group research projects.
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 5447
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three 5 to 7 page papers, small group projects, and class participation involving weekly writing
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors and Leadership studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI 218 Division II LEAD 218 Division II
Attributes: LEAD American Domestic Leadership
LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
PSCI American Politics Courses

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