GOV 310L • American Government
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Fulfills the first half of the legislative requirement for Government. 1. BRIEF DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to the government and politics of the Unites States and Texas. Although our emphasis will be on the U.S. national government, we will also cover some aspects of Texas government. Special attention will be given to how government affects citizens and what citizens can do to affect government. The course not only seeks to impart substantive knowledge, but also to enhance your ability to analyze and to critically evaluate political institutions, processes, policies, and events. 2. INSTRUCTOR'S GOALS: For some students, the study of politics and government is fascinating and fun, while for others watching paint dry offers more excitement. No matter where you may fit in, I intend to share with you my enthusiasm for this subject and make this course as interesting as we can and still meet the academic goals set forth below. It is my desire that this course helps you be better citizens, successful in your chosen careers, and a little wiser about how things work in the political world. No matter what career you pursue, critical thinking and writing are valuable skills. In this course, students are encouraged to think and write about politics. It is hoped that this will not only promote a deeper understanding of politics, but will enable students to participate effectively in democratic society. 3. OVERVIEW OF TOPICS: The first part of the course introduces a framework for political analysis in which we examine such concepts as politics, power, democracy, and frameworks for analysis. We then look at the U.S. Constitution and how it serves as the fundamental legal framework for the national government. We will then examine federalism and the relationship of Texas and the U.S. Government. In the second part of the course, we turn our attention to political behavior by looking at public opinion, interest groups, political parties, social movements, elections, voting, and the media. We will explore how these processes serve to connect citizens to government. Next we explore the structure and functions of the Congress, the Presidency, and the bureaucracy, with special attention on their roles in foreign policy and defense. We will also examine several areas of domestic public policy. We will conclude by discussing the federal courts, civil rights, and civil liberties.
REQUIRED TEXTS: The required texts are Losco, Joseph and Ralph Baker. AM GOV. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. (hereinafter L&B) Momayezi, Nasar and Stouffer, W.F. Texas Politics: Individuals Making a Difference. Boston, Mass.: Houghton-Mifflin, 3rd edition, 2008. (hereinafter M&S) Note: an additional required text may be added. Additional reading are assigned from handouts and from readings posted on the Class Blackboard site.