Political Science at Huntingdon College
Huntingdon College | Political Science | Booklist | Courses | Calendar | Office Hours |Requirements| Special Needs |What's New?

PSC 201: American Government, Syllabus

Revised slightly 5/22/19, by Dr. Jeremy Lewis

Please check the following, using your Hawks identity only:

In summer, 3 semester weeks are compressed into each summer week, and each week of readings begins on Wednesday with a test each Tuesday following; each textbook chapter (though not GoogOlympics event) should be noted in 4-5 paragraphs, and each short reading in one paragraph, submitted in the Google form for reports on readings.

When adapted for course-by-conference, any class session missed will be replaced with report paragraphs as above, or an alternative.

Instructor: Professor Jeremy Lewis, Flowers 209, available M-F most of the day, especially 2-3 pm. 334.833.4521. <jLewis>.  Office hours are detailed here. Course information is detailed here.

Catalog description

The fundamental principles of American government, the framing of the US Constitution; the basic structure and functions of the federal legislature, executive and judiciary; the articulation of public opinion via interest groups and parties to political leaders and legislation.
Course objectives
To prepare students for upper level courses in American government.
To engage students in learning about the political principles, institutions and processes of the United States.
Learning objectives: students will demonstrate Expected outcomes: students will demonstrate these in Requirements
Current academic requirements are detailed on the Requirements page; requirements for the course adapted to course-by-conference are the same, except that any class session that is missed, shall be replaced with an essay of one typed page, single-spaced  on the session's reading or topic -- or, at the discretion of the instructor, by a tutorial session.  Honors students: additional readings, presentations, discussion, test questions and a brief paper may be required: see Requirements page.
Those taking the State's General Social Studies teaching certificate should take both PSC 201 and PSC 212.
The following requirements are taught in PSC 201 American Government:
(1)(b)1.(i) The purposes of government and how its powers are acquired, used, and justified.
(1)(b)(ii) American federal, ... government;
The following are introduced in principle in PSC 201 American Government and fleshed out in PSC 212 American Policy System:
(1)(b)(iii) The meaning, origin, and continuing influences of key ideas of the democratic republican form of government such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, general welfare, domestic peace and the rule of law.
The following are taught in PSC 212 American Policy System:
(1)(b)(ii) American [federal,] state, and local governments; domestic and international issues facing the United States and governments of other nations.

(1)(b)(iv) Citizen rights and responsibilities and how to facilitate discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizenship in a democratic republic."

About the books and materials
For latest information, see the Booklist page. Note: Resources in blue are shared with other political science courses.
Main text: Janda, Berry, Goldman and Hula, Challenge of Democracy, Essentials Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin). A leading text: provocative, lively, theoretical and comparative; if you are PSC major or GSS Teaching major taking PSC 212 in spring term, you will need the Janda text then. This text is not provided free by HC to new students. We were unable to find an alternative cheap or free text of good quality, but we did find a link online to this text; see top of Timetable page.

Selected chapters from our companion anthologies, shared among PSC courses:
Serow, Shannon and Everett Carl Ladd, The Lanahan Readings in the American Polity Baltimore, MD: Lanahan. Inexpensive anthology of brief, classic readings. We shall read most of these, matching each section to a chapter of Challenge.
There will be a loose rhythm for each topic (except where current affairs intrude): each week we shall generally first discuss the principles in Janda/Hula's Challenge; then explore Janda's data charts or Serow's Polity readings; and then hold further discussion of Serow or Curtis' Greats readings, current affairs or watch and analyze a brief video.

We will examine the design of the US Constitution and the intent of the Framers, then move forward to consideration of the modern functioning of interest groups and public opinion, the three branches of the federal government, the method of their election or appointment, and the results of their work in public policy. We will discuss controversial or topical issues, such as a military action or national election, even where this postpones part of the syllabus.

We will contrast the presidential system with the more common prime ministerial system, and US policies with Western European social democratic states. We may enjoy some multimedia and World Wide Web materials (equipment and time permitting) and may invite guest speakers to class or to extra-curricular evening events. (Note that although we will attempt to balance speakers from different parties, we cannot guarantee their availability.)

The Janda text focuses on the dilemmas of democracy: freedom versus order and equality versus freedom. The Challenge of Democracy, is one of the leading American Government texts on the market, and takes an up to date approach. Students seem to enjoy its provocative treatment of the democratic dilemmas, its applying normative theories of politics, and its exploring comparisons between the U.S. and other countries. It also has more references to websites than any other text in my comparison.

Expected of students
You are expected to comply with the HC Honor Code [read College's statement, August 2009, of procedure for violations] and with specific rules of decorum placed on our Requirements page above.  You are also expected to comply with Huntingdon College's Code of Classroom Conduct, August 2009.
HC's attendance policy
Students are expected to attend all classes.
My Attendance Policy [read full details on Required page, as HC's policy has changed]:
While school sanctioned excuses will not count against you, absences reduce your potential contribution to class, and absences in excess of four contact hours will reduce your class participation score.
HC's Policy on completion of absence related work
A specific policy for completion of absence related work is up to the individual instructor.  The instructor must state the policy in the course syllabus.  The specific policy must not penalize a student for participation in a documented College sanctioned event or for a documented medical, personal or family emergency.  [Also requires prior notification via a new online form, and verification by a coach, or similar]
My specific policy on late completion of in-class work
Late completion of tests or other graded exercises in class will only be permitted in cases with documented, prior notification and documented excuses from a coach, medical doctor or similar authority.
Grading Policy
See my timetable of weekly topics and deliverable documents (or click on the course code on masthead)
See my Requirements page
Support Services for Students with Disabilities
"Faculty at Huntingdon College make every effort to accommodate unique and special needs of students with respect to speech, hearing, vision, seating, or other possible adaptions. Please notify the Disability Services Intake Coordinator, via email at disabilityservices@hawks.huntingdon.edu or at (334) 833.4465, as soon as possible, of requested accommodations."
Staton Center for Learning Enrichment
"The Center for Writing and Critical Thinking, located in Jackson 112, provides support at all levels to students working to improve proficiency at skills associated with college-level reading, writing, and critical thinking. The Center offers an active interface among student, instructor, assignment, and tutor. Free one-on-one tutoring is available to all Huntingdon students, either by appointment or on a walk-in basis, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Contact Ms. Vaughan Dickson, Director of the Center for Writing and Critical Thinking, at (334) 833-4454 or by email at vdickson@hawks.huntingdon.edu to schedule an appointment or for more information.
Medical Considerations
"If you have a medical condition that may preclude participation in this course or any aspect of this course, the College suggests you consult your physician. The College will work with you based upon physician recommendations to find the best means to address any concerns."
Title IX Statement
"Huntingdon faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the College's non-discrimination policy. Under Title IX, discrimination based upon sex and gender is prohibited. If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member, understand that as a "Responsible Employee" of the College the faculty member MUST report to the college's Title IX Coordinator what you share. If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you privacy or confidentiality, there are people who can meet with you. Faculty can help direct you or you may refer to Huntingdon's Sexual Misconduct Policy at http://www.huntingdon.edu/student-life/student-service/misconduct. You do not have to go through the experience alone."