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This course will introduce you to the study of the American political system. We will examine how the components of the system — political institutions (Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court), organized interests, ordinary citizens, and the media — operate together to produce the outcomes we read about in the news. A central question we will return to throughout the course is: to what extent can the United States be considered a democratic society? We will examine what leading scholars and practitioners of American politics have said about this fundamental question. Along the way, we will consider other important questions, such as: why did the framers design the Constitution as they did, and how do their choices influence politics today? Why do the actors in the political system — the president, members of Congress, judges, and interest groups — behave as they do? Do the people have coherent political views? To what extent do decision-makers listen to the views of the public? Where do people get their political ideas from? And what factors influence election outcomes?
Format: lecture; For spring 2021, this course will be taught remotely, with twice-weekly synchronous Zoom sessions as a class.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
three 5-7 page essays, a final essay or exam, and participation in class and on GLOW
this is an introductory course, open to first-year students and sophomores; juniors and seniors may enroll only with the permission of instructor and under special circumstances
first-years and sophomores
POEC Required Courses
PSCI American Politics Courses