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Even before the pandemic, scholars, pundits, and the public thought Congress was in a state of crisis. Riven by polarized partisanship and gridlock, the most powerful assembly in the world seemed incapable of representing citizens and addressing problems. This seminar focuses on how Congress organizes itself to act as a collective body. In an organization comprised of equals, how and why do some senators and representatives acquire more power and authority than others? How does Congress act as an institution and not just a platform for 535 individuals? Why does Congress not act, especially when the U.S. confronts so many pressing problems, and how do legislators justify inaction? In what ways does this institution promote or hinder the legitimacy, responsiveness, and responsibility expected of a democratic governing institution?
Format: seminar; For fall of 2020, this class will be remote, with twice weekly synchronous discussion sessions. A few brief lectures will be put up on Glow to review before the relevant class section. Class discussion will draw on student questions posted on Glow as well as the process of developing and conducting original research.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation, two short papers, and a final research paper
PSCI 201 or permission of instructor
Political Science majors with American Politics concentration and Leadership Studies concentrators
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Research Courses