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

Spring 2004

GOV 310L • American Government

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34835 TTh
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
BUR 216

Course Description

Fulfills first half of legislative requirement for 6 hours of government. The purpose of this course, as its title indicates, is to introduce you to American government. Our shared goal this semester is to answer a single question: What "is" American government? While our exploration of politics in the United States will be a collective endeavor, the answer (or answers) that we each, as unique individuals, ultimately arrive at will be diverse. That is the nature of politics; it is about differences of opinion, conflicting views of the world, and incompatible perspectives. Politics is, in a word, about "arguments". While our central concern "What is American government"" is a straightforward question, it is not one that is satisfied with easy answers. It is worth noting that your instructor is not one who is satisfied with easy answers either. Therefore, your success in this course depends upon your willingness to dig a little deeper, look a little harder, and think critically about the arguments that we consider and discuss in this class. This undertaking demands time and effort; but with time and effort there are always rewards.

The course is organized around four topic areas, each of which suggests a possible perspective from which to address the question at hand: What "is" American government? We will unpack these four areas of study and examine their components by translating them into the language of political arguments. During the semester we consider (I) American government as "political ideals and principles, (II) American government as "shared values and beliefs", (III) American government as "elections and campaigns", and (IV) American government as the "division of powers and separation of powers". Remember, there are no easy answers here. Each of these four perspectives, examined separately, will help us shed light on particular aspects of a much bigger picture. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is for you to work toward constructing and understanding that big picture of American government.

Grading Policy

1st Exam - 20% 2nd Exam - 25% Final Exam - 30% In-Class Participation Assignments - 25%


"Choices: An American Government Reader" [compiled by Richard Holtzman] Available for purchase at the University Co-Op at 2244 Guadalupe St.


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