Carnahan Hall    Russell Renka

Renka's Home Page, in the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion
º Online Applications in OIS:
        Drop Box
        Utest - Exams and Quizzes
º Southeast Portal and My Southeast
º Academic Calendar - Summer 2010
The Optional Essay 4 is due by or before midnight on Sunday, June 13, at the Drop Box under "Essay 4" heading.
 º Center for Study of Teaching and Learning
 º Learning Assistance - Learning Enrichment Center
 º Writing Assistance - Online Writing Lab
 º Kent Library Homepage
 º Local voting: Cape Girardeau County - Election Info; also Missouri - Voting In College
 º Renka, Madison and Federalism
 º Renka, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Public Opinion Polls

Syllabus for PS103 - U.S. Political Systems
Section 01 - TWRF 8:00 -10:40 a.m., Carnahan Hall 202
Summer 2010 Pre-Session
Professor Russell Renka

PS103  - U.S. Political Systems Professor Russell D. Renka
Summer 2010 - Southeast Missouri State University Campus Office:  Carnahan 211L; Mail Stop 2920
Locations:  Section 01 - TWRF 8:00 - 10:40 a.m., Carnahan 202 Office Hours:  TWRF 10:40 to 11:40 a.m. in Carnahan 211L (adjacent to CR 202)
Syllabus Website: PS103 Syllabus - Summer 2010 at Office Telephone:  (573) 651-2692
Renka's Home Page:; found via "renka" at Google Office FAX: (573) 651-2695
Professor Renka's e-mail: Department Telephone:  (573) 651-2183

Internal links:
° Introduction
° Course Textbook and Readings
° Course Requirements and Credits
° Source Citations and Source Locations
° What is Expected of You
° How to Reach Me
° Weekly Readings and Examination Itinerary

Introduction                    Next down; Top

    This course addresses government and politics of the United States and its states, including the State of Missouri.  Governments have special authority granted to no other organizations--the power to make laws and regulations and to enforce them, and to collect taxes from all of us.  Government is a nearly universal way human beings regulate themselves and their fellows.  Included here is coverage of our federal and state constitutions which provide the sovereign authority for these governments to exist and exercise powers over us.  The course fulfills the Political Systems requirement of the University Studies Program.

    Politics is the study of the uses of power in pursuit of public objectives.  It's amenable to scientific treatment, and I'm a political scientist.  You must learn some politics to truly understand government.  We'll go beyond dry formalities of government structure and functions such as "how a bill becomes law" (seen in every textbook).  Politics explains why one bill becomes law and a host of fellows fall short.  For example, a Republican 104th Congress passed a minimum wage increase in 1996 despite the traditional Republican disdain of such measures and the ardent hostility of many Members of Congress toward it; but politics can explain why and how this happened.

    This is also a civics course.  Wikipedia acceptably defines civics as "education in the obligations and the rights of the citizen under (some political or ethical tradition such as the American one)."  Not every student wants a dose of this, but it's good medicine.  Many Americans in 2010 dislike politics, politicians, and government.  But it's a representative_democracy, it affects you, and you have no way out of that.  Effective citizenship in democracy is a worthy personal goal.  It requires real knowledge of both government and politics.

    This course is taught at three levels.  Some material is basic description, such as an outline of the trimester system set forth in the Supreme Court's highly controversial Roe v. Wade abortion decision, or a specification of what the First Amendment says about freedom of speech.  Some is analytic; once you know basics, you can interpret whether the distinction in law of first and second trimesters makes sense based on what we know from medical research, or whether public tobacco advertising should be classified as commercial speech.  And ultimately you confront the evaluative or judgmental; you ultimately decide what if anything to accept in Roe v. Wade or in tobacco advertising.  All have the objective of enabling you to understand what you read or hear in the public realm, and to react as an informed consumer and citizen.  Essay portions of exams are designed to let you show knowledge at each of these levels.

    This course emphasizes two core University Studies Program Objectives.  First is effective citizenship.  The course should enhance your ability to be an informed participant and knowledgeable consumer.  This does not mean I promote an automatic acceptance of the American status quo; quite the contrary, blind acceptance is a fool's path.  The second, equally important objective is to master locating and gathering information.  Few things are more confusing to the average American than to figure out sources of the myriad effects our government has upon our lives.  Website access is a great help, but one must still learn navigation and acquisition skills.  Some assignments are therefore designed to ensure that you become conversant in web usage beyond the simple use of search terms in your favorite search engine.

    I'd love to remedy the woeful lack of scientific literacy among the American citizenry.  I cannot fix the fact that 1 in 6 Americans can be defined as scientifically literate, but I can help you to avoid some effects of that.  Some assignments are aimed directly at this objective, as you'll see.  I am a practicing skeptic on the many specious informational claims emanating from AM Talk Radio, from conspiracy theorists, and from self-appointed political experts; the reason is that many don't know what they're talking about.

Course Textbook and Readings:          Next Down; Top

Textbook:  Patterson, Thomas E.  2008.  The American Democracy, 8th ed.  New York:  McGraw Hill.  This is issued by Textbook Service.  See Self Study (from The American Democracy Companion Website) with chapter summary, flash cards, glossary, and self-tests.  I recommend you regularly do these Multiple Choice quizzes to stay current with the reading.

Other readings are specified in the Weekly Readings and Examination Itinerary below.

Web Reference Sources:  Paul M. Johnson's website has fundamental terminology used widely in political science, economics, and policy analysis classes, at A Glossary of Political Economy Terms.

Course Requirements and Credits           Next down; Top

Examinations:  Each two-week section is capped by a two part examination worth 200 points.  Each exam has two sections, multiple-choice, and essay, worth 100 points each.  The fourth examination covers Weeks 7 and 8 only, so there is no comprehensive final exam.  The material to be covered is shown below in the Itinerary.  You can follow all this via Gradebook.

   The multiple choice questions cover all readings, classroom materials, and other materials we may address during that four-week period.  These questions combine the basic and the analytic, but largely bypass the judgmental (although some will require you to recognize an opinion of a writer or your instructor on an issue raised in class and/or readings).  On the proportion of questions taken directly from reading, v. those taken from lecture:  both are important, and single items often blend both.  All these exams are conducted via Utest and then transferred to the Gradebook.  I don't administer the exams in class, so ITV is not a problem.  After deadline for the exam is done, you'll get Utest feedback to show right and wrong answers.    Net Value:  100 points per exam, 400 points in all.

    The essays cover the same materials we cover in the multiple choice exams, except of course that the Topics are necessarily defined around broader thematic questions and issues.  These are posted to Drop Box, where I write comments, assign a grade, and post that on the Gradebook.  I make Essay 4 optional where you can decide to do it if you believe it'll help your course grade average (which you'll see via Gradebook).   Net Value:  100 points per exam, 300 (without Essay 4) or 400 points (with Essay 4).

Polling Assignment:  The Itinerary shows a polling assignment in our third week, worth 50 points.  I'll spell that out in class when we get there.  The value for successful completion of this assignment is 50 points out of 50 possible.

    In summary, we get:
Examinations - multiple choice sections     400 points (100 per exam)
Essay                                                  400 points (100 per essay, including optional Essay 4)
Polling Assignment                                  50 points
All assignments:                                    850 points (with optional Essay 4) or 750 (without Essay 4)

Grades:   Gradebook posts interim grades and the eventual course grade, to let you keep up with your assignments and grades.

Source Citations and Source Locations                Next down; Top

   Kent Library has a Citing Sources tutorial.  The core rule is to cite so any reader can easily track down your sources.  So give full citation to all sources, including names of all authors, the book/article/website file name or name and position of an interviewee, and all publication information (publisher's location, publisher's name, year of pub, volume and issue of journal, URL of a website plus date of its access).  If you got specific information from one page of a 600-page tome, cite that page so they can avoid poring through 599 superfluous pages.  Simple.

    Essay writing in PS103 means using and citing sources.  Use the APA style unless you're familiar with and skilled in a different method such as MLA.  Whenever you cite a website source, don't put the URL in the paper's text.  Instead, put the website's authors (if any) and filename (the self-assigned file's title) in the text.  Then in Works Cited at conclusion, put full reference in, including the URL and date of access.  As a time-saver, whenever you use class readings as sources, you can copy the formal citation straight from this syllabus Itinerary and paste it to your paper.

    For assistance with writing, go to The Writing Lab in Kent Library 412.  Or use the Center's OWL, Online Writing Lab.  It includes Tutorials on Writing with Sources and on avoidance of plagiarism.  For PS103 paper links in APA style, go directly to Poly-Cy Guide to Internet Resources for Political Science - Style and Web Site Citation Guides.

    Elsewhere, Kent Library's Web Searching Tools has links to many databases.  On American government and politics, University of Michigan Documents Center includes Federal Government Resources on the Web.  Federal government navigation is assisted by using The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal.  On state government, The Council on State Governments is a good starting point.

What is Expected of You:              Next downTop

Attendance:  Attend every class.  We start on time and finish on time too.  There's online notes highlighting things I think are important, and they are useful for your essay assignments.  But these are not class notes.  I don't have any of those, so you must produce your own.  If you must miss a class, I recommend that you partner with a reliable classmate to acquire notes.  I reserve the right and pleasure to include class material, including impromptu discussion items, on our exams.

Cheating:  I had a certain nasty little cheater in 2003, haven't forgotten that, and have since studied some methods for catching and docking offenders.  If a student cheats on an assignment, it's an automatic zero grade on that work.  If there's evidence of cheating on more than one assignment, it's a zero on each affected assignment.  Once I have documented evidence of cheating, then I first confront the offender to elicit an explanation of the behavior, after which I file a report with the Department chairperson.  If I catch the evidence post hoc and cannot confront the offender, I proceed directly to that report.  If I have my druthers, this will be unnecessary.

Plagiarism (the most common form of cheating):  Plagiarism is a chronic plague of universities.  It refers to someone taking the work of others and passing it off as his or her own.  It can be as simple as taking a quotation and failing to show it properly, to lifting an entire piece verbatim and pasting it to one's own paper or exam.  The common element of this noxious practice is always the same, namely that of falsely claiming for oneself that which another person has created.  In the commercial world, plagiarism brings lawsuits for copyright violation.  In the academic world, it brings verdicts of moral and academic failure on the offender.  See Professor Hamner Hill's Policy on Plagiarism.

    The most commonplace web plagiarism is copy-and-paste from unspecified websites onto papers, followed sometimes by penning some cursory word changes.  I know these critters when I smell them, and it's not hard to follow the scent back to its source.  I do that.  I'm familiar with search protocols.  Also, don't write any your paper by copying that of a classmate.  Two starkly similar papers will mean no grade for either one.  Another commonplace problem is using exact or almost exact text wording without enclosing that in quotations.  Don't do that either.  Any time you use text words directly, enclose them in quotes and cite the source.

    Judicial Affairs - Statement of Student Rights and Code of Student Conduct deals with academic honesty.  The Faculty Handbook's Policy on Academic Honesty pointedly reminds that you must do your papers in your own words.  You may always invoke a source for assistance, but you may not copy or virtually copy their sentences to your paper UNLESS you cite that source and then enclose its wording in quotes.  This, by the way, includes the textbook itself. Look at how they do source citations in the chapters.  That includes websites.  Websites have authors, filenames (titles), and URLs.  When you use one, cite all those things, alongside the access date of that file.

    If the plagiarism is intentional, I report that as a violation of the University's academic integrity policy while assigning that paper or exam an irreversible grade of zero.  If it is not, I return the paper without a grade to its creator for immediate and thorough correction; once corrected, then I grade the paper while making sure the plagiarism has disappeared.  After one such occasion, I will assume you know how to avoid this.

On electronic devices:  Cell phones may attend ONLY when silenced.  Should one somehow ring anyway, silence it immediately and avoid any repeat.  If you must be on phone alert, tell me at start of class, use vibrate mode only, and depart class if it calls you.  If a cell phone disobeys these rules, it's gone for good.

    And on texting:  just say no (Texting May Be Taking a Toll -, 5.26.2009).  More precisely, finish your texts before class starts, and don't resume till afterward.  There's two reasons for this.  1) Nobody pays attention to class when tweeting and sending love messages to friends and lovers.  Automobile drivers are dangerous when a cell phone is attached to one hand and ear, because they pay no damned attention to other drivers.  They endanger themselves, too.  Once I saw a young woman on Montreal's principal commercial street (Rue Sainte-Catherine) clicking a cell phone number while riding a bicycle amidst rush hour traffic!  That was in 2005, so she's probably deceased by now.  2) As for the second reason, texting is outright rude when somebody's up front talking.  I had a student oral presenter watch a fellow student who was texting during her presentation.  You can imagine how that felt; and I don't have to.  I already know.
    With an ITV class, texting also interferes with your microphone.  Tweeters are not safe drivers in class or out.

     Laptop computers are welcome in class for note taking, and so are tape recorders.  Music devices aren't, as I've never met someone into music who also was into class proceedings (even in music class).  Use your laptop only for note taking, not for texting, tweeting, or otherwise wasting time.

On guns:   Real guns may not attend any of my classes.  The Missouri General Assembly passed a "concealed carry" gun statute in 2003 but didn't bother to say when and where it's permissible to pack heat.  So I was obliged to write my own law.  It's a simple one:  no firearms of any kind are permitted in any of my classes, or in my office, under any circumstances.  Should there be a violation, I will not confront the offender.  Instead I will contact the university's legal authorities and have them press action to ensure that the offender may not continue this practice.  There are no exceptions to this rule unless the student is:  a) a law enforcement authority authorized to carry a gun in the normal performance of duties, and b) this student gets my advance clearance to carry in class.  Note:  None of this refers to minor weapons such as Swiss Army knives, Gerber tools, box cutters, nail files, or the like.  I refer to guns.

Emergencies:  The Southeast Emergency Plan website is

     In adverse weather, we'll check Radar Images from KFVS-TV.  If a derecho storm like that May 8, 2009 creature gets within earshot, we hasten downstairs to the south wall of the basement floor of Carnahan, away from the Foyer windows and doors.  Twisters usually go southwest-to-northeast in direction.  Know why?  If not, look up Coriolis effect.

    If a shooter is in the building's hall, then we barricade the classroom door with the heavy podium plus chairs while you guys immediately call DPS at their cell number (573) 651-2911 while citing our classroom locale (Carnahan 202).  If a shooter is outdoors acting as a sniper, we stay inside and out of sight of the exterior windows.

    In case of fire, we exit the building promptly but without panic.  We physically assist any mobility-limited person to get out quickly with the rest of us.  We avoid the elevator, of course; and we stay low to the floor in case of smoke.  

Services and Special Needs:  Just advise me directly if you have specific difficulties that I can help you handle.  The Learning Enrichment Center offers special services for those with learning or other disabilities.

How to Reach Me:                      Next down; Top

    I have an open door policy, and can very often be found at or near my office computer at Carnahan 211-L; it's in a suite of offices immediately next to Carnahan 202.  You can reach me any of the following ways:
        a) At Google, write "renka" and find Renka's Home Page (URL: for details on me and my courses, including this syllabus.  Then:
        b) E-mail me at; but don't submit papers here.  The Drop Box is for that purpose.  Or:
        c) Leave a message at my Department mailbox or with the Department office in Carnahan 211.
        d) Leave a message at the mail drop outside my door at Carnahan 211-L.
        e) Leave a voice mail message at my office telephone number, (573) 651-2692; or if I am home, call (573) 334-0039.

PS103 Weekly Readings and Examination Itinerary--Professor Renka - Summer 2010       Top

Academic Calendar - Summer 2010

Week 1, Day 1 - Tuesday, May 18      Politics, Democracy, and Government
    º Patterson Chapter 1 - American Political Culture
    º The Declaration of Independence - textbook Appendix 1, or on-line: National Archives - Declaration of Independence
    º on-line reading:  America During the Age of Revolution, 1776-1789
    º Missouri tax increase raising ire in Kansas - AP story by David A. Lieb, Monday, 20 August 2007
Notes - Why Do We Have Government?

Week 1, Day 2 - Wednesday, May 19    A Constitutional Democracy
    º Patterson Chapter 2 - Constitutional Democracy
    º The Constitution of the United States - Patterson Appendix, pp. A5-A16, or Constitution of the United States
    º Roger A. Bruns, A More Perfect Union:  The Creation of the U.S. Constitution at
    º James Madison, Federalist No. 10 in Patterson A-17 to A-20, or
Notes - Creation of the U.S. Constitution

 Week 1, Day 3 - Thursday, May 20     Federalism and the American States; U.S. and State of Missouri Constitutions
    º Patterson Chapter 3 - Federalism
    º Patterson Chapter 18 - State and Local Politics
    º James Madison, The Federalist No. 51 in Patterson A-21 to A-23 or
    º Russell D. Renka, Madison and Federalism
Notes - American Federalism

 Week 1, Day 4 - Friday, May 21     Civil Liberties    **
    º Patterson Chapter 4 - Civil Liberties
    º Future of the First Amendment - Key Findings (poll from Knight Foundation’s High School Initiative)
Notes - Civil Liberties As A National Concern

Note:  Saturday, May 22 is the last date to withdraw with a partial refund, per Southeast's Academic Calendar - Summer 2010.

** Friday, May 21 (by 6:00 p.m.) through Monday, May 24 (before midnight) **  Examination 1 (multiple choice) is on Utest under an "Examination 1" subheading.  You'll have 90 minutes for this test, which covers all readings including Renka notes.  Initially you will get only a a posted grade on your Gradebook, but once the Exam ends, Utest gives you complete feedback.  I recommend reviewing that.
    Before doing Exam 1 I recommend you prepare in two ways.  Do the textbook multiple choice exams at Self Study from The American Democracy Companion Website for Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 18.  Then do the Sample Test One at Utest.  It's open from Thursday May 20 through Saturday May 22.  It has 5 questions with 8 minutes to do them, comparable to the 60 questions in 90 minutes on Exam 1.  Those 5 items are from the real test, so they'll authentically show you what you'll see with Exam 1.
    You should have the Patterson text close by, and the Renka notes too.  Turn your cell off and go somewhere quiet until you're done.

Essay 1 is due by or before midnight on Monday, May 24, at the Drop Box under "Essay 1" heading.  I will write a critique and grade there as well, and the grade will be posted on your Gradebook.

 Week 2, Day 1 - Tuesday, May 25     Equal Rights
    º Patterson Chapter 5 - Equal Rights
    º Ronald L. F. Davis, The History of Jim Crow at
Notes - Civil Rights As a Growth Industry

 Week 2, Day 2 - Wednesday, May 26      Public Opinion and Polling
    º Patterson Chapter 6 - Public Opinion and Political Socialization
    º Russell D. Renka, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Public Opinion Polls

** Polling Assignment is due by Monday, May 31, at the Drop Box under "Polling Assignment" heading.  This is worth 50 points out of 50 if done correctly.  More details to follow.

 Week 2, Day 3 - Thursday, May 27     Political Participation and Voting
    º Patterson Chapter 7 - Political Participation and Voting
    º Michael McDonald, United States Election Project: Voter Turnout for 1948-2008 (with VEP and VAP); details on 2008:  Voter Turnout 2008 General Election
Notes - Voters and Nonvoters

 Week 2, Day 4 - Friday, May 28      Political Parties and Elections   **
    º Patterson Chapter 8 - Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns
    º maps - President Map - Election Results 2008 - The New York Times (with comparisons dating from 1992 election)
Notes - The Two-Party System in America

**  Friday, May 28 (6:00 p.m.) through Monday, May 31 (before midnight) **  Examination 2 is on Utest under an "Examination 2" subheading.  You'll have 90 minutes and 1 take to do this test, which covers all readings including Renka notes.  Initially you will get only a grade for feedback, but once the Exam period ends, you'll get complete feedback from Utest plus a posted grade on your Gradebook.

Essay 2 is due by or before midnight on Monday, May 31, at the Drop Box under "Essay 2" heading.

 Week 3, Day 1 - June 1     The Media
    º Patterson Chapter 10 - The News Media
Notes - Political Bias in the News Media

 Week 3, Day 2 - June 2     Interest Groups
    º Patterson Chapter 9 - Interest Groups
Notes - Interest Groups and Free Riders

 Week 3, Day 3 - June 3      The U.S. Congress
    º Patterson Chapter 11 - Congress, to p. 317
    º data site:  Psephos - Adam Carr's Election Archive - 2008 U.S. House Congressional Districts, by state
    º the art of gerrymandering, racial and otherwise - Mark Monmonier, Spotting Bushmanders
Notes - The Incumbency Advantage in the U.S. Congress

 Week 3, Day 4 - June 4     The U.S. Congress
    º Patterson Chapter 11 - Congress, from p. 317
    º Russell D. Renka, Presidents and Congresses
    º data site:  Keith Poole, The Ideological Structure of Congressional Voting, 1927-2000 (still shots of each Congress); and Keith Poole's NOMINATE Roll Call Data, 1st to 109th Congresses
Notes - The U.S. Congress At Work

**  Friday, June 4 (3:00 p.m.) through Monday, June 7 (before midnight) **  Examination 3 is on Utest.

Essay 3 is due by or before midnight on Monday, June 7, at the Drop Box under "Essay 3" heading.

Note:  Friday, June 4, is the last day to drop class without a failing grade, per Academic Calendar - Summer 2010.

Week 4, Day 1 - Tuesday, June 8    The Presidency
     ° Patterson Chapter 12 - The Presidency
     ° Renka, Presidential Elections through 2008
     ° Professor Renka's Presidential Election Maps, by County
     ° Renka on succession in the modern presidency (Timeline of Modern Presidents)
Notes - The Election of Presidents

 Week 4, Day 2 - Wednesday, June 9     The Presidency 
    ° Renka, Party Control of the Presidency and Congress, 1933-2010
    ° review of presidential approval via Gallup's Presidential Job Approval Center
    ° Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 70 - "The Executive Department Further Considered"
    ° Renka on succession in the modern presidency (Timeline of Modern Presidents) - conclusion
Notes - Powers of the Modern Presidency

 Week 4, Day 3 - Thursday, June 10     War, Peace, Diplomacy, Espionage, and Trade
     ° Patterson Chapter 17 - Foreign and Defense Policy (sorry, no Renka notes on this one; but it's a good chapter)

 Week 4, Day 4 - Friday, June 11     The Federal Judiciary
    ° Patterson Chapter 14 - The Federal Judicial System
Notes - The Judiciary as a Lightning Rod

** Exam no. 4 (90 minutes, at Utest) is open from Friday, June 11 by 6:00 p.m. until Monday, June 14, up to 12 noon.   This exam only covers material postdating Exam 3 from Week 4.  It is not comprehensive.  I must file final grades by 8 p.m. on Monday June 14th, so be sure you're done with Exam 4 by or before Monday at 12 noon.

The Optional Essay 4 is due by or before midnight on Sunday, June 13, at the Drop Box under "Essay 4" heading.

Copyright©2010, Russell D. Renka
June 10, 2010 02:06 PM

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