PS 103-921: United States Political Systems
Dr. Jeremy Walling Office: Carnahan Hall 311R
Office phone: 651-2691
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/walling/ps103-921/
Patterson book website: http://www.mhhe.com/pattersontad9
Office Hours: MW 9:30-10:00 and 11:00-12:00; or by appointment
This course is designed to introduce students to basic concepts comprising contemporary American politics. Classic and contemporary literature will be incorporated to provide an understanding of the foundations of American institutions and enduring characteristics of a complex political system. The initial component of the course consists of the founding of American government. Concepts such as “separation of powers” and “federalism” will be illuminated by readings and class discussions. The second unit of the course introduces the characteristics and interactions of the institutions of American government, such as Congress and the president. Next, linking institutions will be discussed. These institutions, such as interest groups and parties, exist to connect citizens to the primary institutions of government. For example, if a citizen feels underrepresented in Congress, he or she might join an interest group to address that disenfranchisement. Finally, the course will address the fundamentals of Missouri government.
Required Texts—Patterson, Thomas, 2009. The New American Democracy, 9th Ed.
Expectations—This is a lecture format course. However, students are expected to ask questions and participate in class discussions. In addition, students are expected to complete reading assignments before the class in which we are scheduled to discuss them.
Grades—Your grade in this course will be determined by your performance on 4 examinations and the best 4 grades of 5 quizzes. The grades will follow the traditional percentage scale (90%=A; 80%=B; 70%=C; 60%=D; Below 60%=F).
Exams (4 @ 80 pts. each) = 320
Quizzes (4 @ 20 pts. each) = 80 pts.
Total = 400 pts.
Examinations— Each exam will contain only the material covered in each stated unit of the course. In that sense, the exams will not be comprehensive. However, some material in the course is cumulative in nature and each exam will build on material from the previous course units. Make-up exams must be scheduled in advance and supporting documentation must be provided. Students missing exams due to university sponsored activities should inform the instructor during the first two weeks of the semester.
Attendance and Participation—Students are expected to attend class on time. Since quizzes will be given in class, class participation is a significant component of your grade in the course. Although attendance will not be graded in and of itself, you must be present to participate.
Multiple Choice Quizzes—Five quizzes will be given. In the event that 5 quizzes have been taken, students will be allowed to drop the lowest quiz grade. Since a drop is allowed, quizzes missed for any reason will be given a zero grade and dropped from the final quiz grade. Since make-up quizzes will not be offered, it is essential that students are present for 4 quizzes. The quizzes will cover main concepts from the reading and will generally be multiple-choice in nature.
Academic Dishonesty—Plagiarism on papers and cheating on exams will not be tolerated. Evidence of cheating will result in a zero grade on that assignment. The official statement about academic honesty, including plagiarism, may be accessed at: http://www2.semo.edu/provost/handbook/html/Chapter5/FHV-5.htm
Special Needs—Please see me if you have a disability that requires alternative arrangements or circumstances. I’ll assist you in any manner possible.
Course Schedule (Note that assignment details and due-dates may be subject to change and that students should check for periodic updates)
Week of August 24: Introduction, Politics & Government
Readings: Patterson, Ch1
Week of August 31: The Founding and Constitutional
Readings: Patterson Ch2, Ch3
September 7: Labor Day, no class.
September 9: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties
Readings: Patterson Ch4 & Ch5
September 14: Review for First Exam
September 16: First Exam
Week of September 21: The US Congress
Readings: Patterson Ch11
Week of September 28: The President and Bureaucracy
Readings: Patterson Ch 12, Ch 13
Week of October 5: The Federal Judiciary
Readings: Patterson Ch14
October 12: Review for Second Exam
October 14: Second Exam
Week of October 19: Voting Behavior and Participation
Readings: Patterson Ch7
Week of October 26: Organized Interests
Readings: Patterson Ch9
Week of November 2: Political Parties
Readings: Patterson Ch8
November 9: Review for Third Exam
November 11: Third Exam
Week of November 16: Public Opinion
Readings: Patterson Ch6
November 23: Media
Readings: Patterson Ch 10
November 25: Thanksgiving Break
Week of November 30: Public Policy
Readings: Patterson Ch 15, Ch 16
Week of December 7: State and Local Politics
Readings: Patterson Ch18
Monday, December 14: Fourth Exam