PSCI 218
The American Presidency Spring 2024
Division II
Cross-listed LEAD 218
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Class Details

Impeachments. Investigations. Polarization. Did Donald Trump’s tenure fundamentally alter the institution of the presidency? Or are its most significant features enduring? To study the presidency is to study human nature and individual personality, but also constitution and institution, rules and norms, bureaucracy and administration, strategy and contingency. This course examines 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 and what are the expectations of presidential performance? How much do we attribute the shaping of politics and policy outcomes to the agency of the individual in the office and to what extent are they the result of underlying structural, cultural, and institutional factors? How is the office and purpose of the presidency affected by an economic order predicated on private capital? By the character of the occupant? To answer these questions, we examine topics such as presidential selection; the bases of presidential power; character and leadership; inter-branch interactions; party, social movement, and interest group relations; and media interactions. Attention will focus largely on the modern, twentieth and twenty-first century, presidency, though older historical examples will also be used to help us gain perspective on how the presidency has changed over time and what the implications are for democratic governance.
The Class: Format: seminar; The course will feature both seminar discussion and several small group research projects.
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3676
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three 5 to 7-page papers, small group projects, oral presentations, 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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