PSCI 314
How Change Happens in American Politics Fall 2021
Division II
Cross-listed PSCI 314 / LEAD 314

Class Details

An unprecedented assault on the U.S. Capitol, the rise of white nationalism, a pandemic, a volatile economy, racial reckoning, and rapidly evolving environmental crises have all rocked American politics in the last year. What might we expect to come next? From the Founding to the present, the American political order has undergone cataclysmic and thoroughgoing transformations, yet it has also proven to be remarkably enduring. How can this be? Where do we find continuities and where upheavals? What accounts for the continuities, and what for the changes? What sorts of transformations have been possible, and who or what has made them possible? Finally, what are the costs of change (and of continuity)–and who pays them? The goal of this course is to assess American political change, or lack of, and to gain a sense of the role that political leaders have played in driving change. We will examine when and how individuals and leadership have mattered vis-à-vis broader historical and contextual factors, including economic developments, demographic change, war, and constitutional and institutional parameters. After examining general models of change and of leadership, we will consider specific case studies, such as civil rights for African-Americans, gender equality, labor advances, social conservatism, and populism. We will consider some of the complicated legacies of change. Finally, we will look at arguments that America has been “exceptional”–or, unlike other countries–as well as critiques of these arguments, to help us gain an understanding of future prospects for political transformation.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1692
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in weekly meetings as well as weekly essays or critiques
Prerequisites: previous course in American politics or American history
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 314 Division II LEAD 314 Division II
Attributes: LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
POEC U.S. Political Economy + Public Policy Course
PSCI American Politics Courses

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