Course Requirements

Instructor - Mr. D. Miller

This course is about the American political system. We will discuss political ideology, the development of the political system and our democratic institutions. Students will be able to evaluate the role of the national government and its relationship to the concept of liberty in a pluralistic society. The discussions will emphasize the changing political culture of American society and its effect on voting patterns, trends and the processes of government. In doing so we will examine certain critical elections in American history as well as recent political movements. The main thrust of the course, however, is to be able to apply an understanding of our political system to contemporary events.

The following five major topics will be covered: (1) The constitutional underpinnings of American government, (2) political beliefs and behaviors, (3) political parties and interest groups, (4) institutions and policy development and, (5) civil liberties. At the conclusion of the course students should have a more sophisticated understanding of majority rule democracy, constitutionalism and civil liberties. Students will also be able to see the relationships and distinctions between formal and informal institutions and the public policies that are developed as a result of these relationships.

General Expectations

This is a college level class in Political Science. As such I expect students to behave as college students. I will instruct this class in a method that best exemplifies a college course and I expect students to act accordingly. I will not accept or tolerate late or missing work and absence from class in unacceptable. Due to the short nature of the course and the vast amount of materiel involved student are expected to become learners both IN and OUT of the classroom. This means doing reading when it is required and becoming aware of current events and political happenings. It is expected that students read the New York Times every day as well as a weekly magazines such as Newsweek. Only in this fashion can students begin to truly understand and apply knowledge. Learning, true learning, does not occur in the vacuum of the classroom.

Teaching and Study Methods

Classes will be conducted in a lecture and discussion format. Board notes will be minimal so student note taking is essential. Students might also consider outlining their texts as a study tool. This is optional but highly recommended. Typically, college students will highlight but since you do not own your books, outlining might be a suitable alternative.

In addition to assigned class readings students are expected to stay abreast of current events in national politics. In order to do this, students should read the New York Times every day. The reality is that the Times is the very best newspaper in America. Students should also consider reading Newsweek or another similar weekly news magazine. Newsweek has excellent political coverage. National Review (conservative) and The Nation (liberal) are also excellent sources of political information. This reading will further your knowledge of the subject matter and the articles you read can be included in the clipping file project you will be asked to complete.

Texts and Readings

The class text is American Government by James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio. Copies have been provided to you. It is expected that you will read all assigned chapters prior to class discussion.

Supplementary readings are essential in this class. The acquisition of a supplementary texts has been discussed and as of now has yet to be resolved. If such a text is obtained it will be The Lanahan Readings in American Polity by Ann Serow and Everett Ladd.

There will also be other readings assigned throughout the year. I will make them available in advance. In some cases required readings will only be available online. Again, it is expected that you will read all assigned chapters prior to class discussion.

As discussed, reading of the New York Times and Newsweek is extremely important. National Review (conservative) and The Nation (liberal) are also excellent sources of political information.