PSCI 290
How Change Happens in American Politics Fall 2024
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed LEAD 290

Class Details

An unprecedented assault on the U.S. Capitol, the rise of white nationalism, a pandemic, economic volatility, racial reckoning, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and rapidly evolving environmental crises — American politics in the last four years has been tumultuous. 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 stable and enduring. How can this be? Where do we find continuities and where upheavals? Who or what has been responsible for the continuities, and who or what for the changes? What sorts of transformations have been possible, and why — what marriage of individual action and contextual factors have created political change in the past and in the present? Finally, what are the costs of change (and of continuity) — and who pays them? In this tutorial, we assess American political change, or lack of, to gain a sense of the role that political leaders have played in driving change. We examine when and how individuals and leadership have mattered vis-à-vis broader historical and contextual factors, including war, economic developments, demographic change, and constitutional and institutional practices. We consider general models of change, as well as specific case studies, including civil rights and social justice for racial and ethnic groups, gender equality and family relations, and reactionary or traditionalist politics. 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#: 1718
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in weekly meetings as well as 4 lead essays (5-6 pages) and 4 critiques (2 pages)
Prerequisites: one prior course in political science
Enrollment Preferences: Declared and prospective Political Science majors and Leadership Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
LEAD 290 Division II PSCI 290 Division II
WS Notes: Extensive written feedback will be provided on tutorial essays and critiques. Additionally, the tutorial sessions will include attention to the quality of the written argument in the paper that is the focus of each session. At the end of the semester, students will be required to revise one of the tutorial papers incorporating the feedback, oral and written, provided by their tutorial partner and the instructor.
Attributes: LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
POEC Depth
PSCI American Politics Courses

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