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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2010

GOV 312L • Issues and Policies in American Government

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38740 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
JGB 2.324
Dietz, H

Course Description

Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take. Its topic - Poverty and Politics - deals with questions concerning what poverty is and why it exists, with welfare policies in the US and in Texas, and with poverty and politics in the Third World. The course assumes the basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, but nothing more. Questions concerning the nature and cause of poverty and what to do about it are by definition controversial and subject to much debate. This course does not presume that either the instructor or the readings has The Answer to such questions. Rather, it is to identify the major schools of debate around such questions and for you to think about them. If you believe that you have already decided how you feel about poverty, the course may provoke you to think again; if you have never given the question any thought, the course may provoke you into thinking about such questions. Given the size and nature of the course, it is taught by lecture. There will always be time for discussion and participation in class, however. Attendance can make a clear difference at the end of the semester. Indeed, failure to attend class can lower your grade. On the other hand, active participation in class can raise your grade if you are borderline.

Grading Policy

Grades are drawn from two in-class exams and a final, each counting about a third of your grade. I shall look for evidence of improvement over the semester and will reward progress as appropriate. In addition, you may write an optional extra paper that counts the same as one mid-term (the paper cannot be a substitute for a midterm, however). You are strongly encouraged to consult with me about a paper if you want to write one.


Dinitto, Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy, 6th edition (2005) Isbister, Promises Not Kept, 7th edition (2005) Kozol, Rachel and Her Children (1988) Rodgers, American Poverty in a New Era of Reform, 2nd ed. (2006)


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