GOV 310L • American Government
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course is an introduction to American government and politics. While our main focus is on the national level, additional attention is paid to state and local governments of Texas. In some instances, the American case is placed in a comparative context derived from the experience of other western democracies. In other instances, we focus on changes over time within the American political system to demonstrate how principles often change with context. At all times, we are interested in a better understanding of how this particular system has developed and what it means for citizens of the United States. There are three primary objectives in this course. The first is to provide basic descriptive information about American and Texas political systems by examining important political processes, institutions, and actors. The second is to develop analytical skills by which to understand complex relationships and phenomena. The third is to introduce the work of the political scientist by concentrating on the paradigms and techniques of the discipline.
Course evaluations are broken into two components. I. The first is three midterm exams. Each is worth 25%, or 75% of your grade These exams are NOT cumulative. There will be no early or make-up exams, except for extreme emergencies (and I am the sole arbiter of what constitutes an extreme emergency). II. The second is based on your attendance. This grade will be based on class, as measured by a number of pop quizzes.
The following book is available at the University of Texas Co-Op: Peterson, Paul and Morris Fiorina. New American Democracy, 3rd ed. New York, NY: Addison, Wesley, and Longman, 2003.