GOV F310L • American Government
10:00 AM-11:30 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 the 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 democratic nations. 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 the 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.
The course is broken down into two components. The first portion of class centers on the discussions and the Peterson and Fiorina textbook. Three examinations will be based on these materials and are each worth 30% of your grade (90% total). 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).
In addition, 10% of your grade is reserved for your attendance and performance in class. This grade will be based on things such as class participation, attendance, debates, and the like. A few other points merit attention. Incomplete grades are highly discouraged and will only be given in the direst of circumstances. Students must complete ALL assigned work to pass the course. Failure to complete all course requirements will result in a failing grade.
The New American Democracy (Fiorina, Peterson, Johnson, and Mayer)