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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 Syllabus in Canvas and 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
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.

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 and rules in the Syllabus in Canvas and with specific rules of decorum placed on our Requirements page above.  
HC's attendance policy
Students are expected to attend all classes.
My Attendance Policy
While school sanctioned excuses will not count against you, unexcused absences reduce your potential contribution to class, and will reduce your class participation score.
HC's Policy on completion of absence related work: see Syllabus in Canvas

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 Syllabus in Canvas and my Requirements page