Political Science 100-10††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Andy Schott

American Government and Politics††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Fall 2004††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Tuesday Thursday 11:00- 12:15 (DuSable 459)†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Office: Social Science Research Institute at the corner of Third Street and Locust

Office 161††††††† Phone: 753-0961

††††††††††† E-mail:

Office Hours: Monday and Friday 2-3:00 and by appointment




POLS 100: American Government and Politics provides a college level introduction to the American political system at the national level and an abbreviated introduction to the structure of Illinois Government. It also serves as a prerequisite for many upper level courses in American Government. While it is an introduction course, it will be challenging. The American political system demands that its citizens be informed and knowledgeable on issues concerning government, since the people are the government in the United States.


What is the role of citizen? What do citizens need to know? Who is responsible for the actions of the United Statesí government? What is Federalism? What is a legislative district?




All students are expected to have full access to a copy of the following text. It is available in both bookstores on campus.


American Government: Brief Version, 6th edition, James Q. Wilson, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003.


The Illinois Handbook of Government 2003-2004 Jesse White Secretary of State. This handbook will be distributed to you by the instructor.


Occasionally students may be asked to do additional readings that may be found on the Internet, on reserve in the library or provided by the instructor. NIU students have access to the Internet through their assigned NIU.EDU account. If you do not already have your Z-ID number and access to an NIU account, you should make an early effort to acquire one (a personal account is adequate). The instructor is working under the assumption that everyone has access to the internet from some source. If this is a false assumption, it is the studentís responsibility to let him know.


Some Useful Websites:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††






1. Classroom Behavior and Attendance: Courtesy and regard for one another should guide classroom behavior. Differences in opinion will inevitably arise in good discussions. Absolute agreement is NEVER required, but respect is ALWAYS required. Attendance at each class is both expected and necessary for success in this class. Attending is defined as being present at the beginning of class and remaining in class until the instructor dismisses the class for the day. Students who are having difficulty arriving on time may be barred from class. Occasional difficulties do arise and are understandable if an appropriate explanation and apology are offered after class. If there are any scheduling problems that cannot be avoided, please consult with the instructor immediately.

Students are expected to be attentive to the lectures and class discussions. Students who sleep, text message, talk on their cell phone, read the paper, persistently talk with other students or are otherwise inattentive will be asked to leave the class and will be subject to administrative dismissal from the course. All cell phones must be turned off when class begins. If a cell phone rings during class, the owner will be asked to leave and the absence will be unexcused. Students who have extended absences due to illness should notify the instructor as promptly as possible during the absence and produce a doctorís note indicating the nature and duration of the illness. This note should be presented at the first class upon returning. Extended absences are regarded as not fulfilling course requirements and, unless justified with appropriate documentation, will adversely affect the final grade.

The instructor reserves the right to raise a studentís final grade if that studentís attendance and participation has been exceptional. It can only help - do the readings, attend class, and participate!


No electronic devices are allowed to be operated during the class period. Please see the instructor for exceptions.


2. Class Preparation and Note Taking: The best way to prepare for each class is to do the readings at least once (some require more than one reading) prior to the first day we begin each unit. You will be much better able to participate in and to grasp the class discussions if you have done so. Note taking is an important ingredient to success in this course. Learn to listen carefully to the arguments made and write them down as best you can. Good discussions will move beyond the readings and are likely to return on a test or quiz. Studentsí questions frequently lead to important points and essential discussions. You will be evaluated on your understanding of important material, regardless of who specifically brings it into the discussion. In other words, if it is discussed in class or in the readings, it is acceptable test material.


3. Class Participation:Participation in class is expected, required, and rewarded. Participation means that students demonstrate that they are trying to understand the arguments being made both in the reading and in the discussions, by asking questions or making comments, which show problems with the arguments and by responding to questions, which the instructor raises. Merely talking does not fulfill the expectation set for participation. The kind of participation expected is one, which shows that you are trying to understand what the whole picture looks like, what each part looks like, and how the parts fit into that whole.






4. Grading:Final grades will be based on a studentís performance in the following areas:


FOUR (4) EXAMS (80%): 100 points each. Exams may consist of multiple choice, short answer, and/or essay questions covering the reading and class discussions. Each exam will cover the chapters listed on the date of the exam. There may be overlap and understanding material from previous units may be required for a full understanding of later chapters. There is no comprehensive final, but the fourth exam will be taken during finals week.


2 ESSAYS (10%) 25 points each. The Essay topics are listed on the syllabus or will be announced in class. The essays must be typed using 12-point font. Your name, date assignment is due and word count must be printed in the top left hand corner of page one of the essay. Essay should be checked for grammar and for spelling mistakes prior to handing the essay to the instructor. Essays with more than one page must be stapled. No paper clipped essays will be accepted. Essays are due at the beginning of class. No late papers will be accepted without prior consultation with the professor.


Written Work Assignments should be handed to me personally or given prior to or upon the due date to a department secretary to be time-stamped. Assignments placed under my office door or sent with a friend tend to disappear at times. If a student selects one of these modes of delivery, he or she does so at their own risk. Students should also retain their work on paper and computer diskette in the event the instructor requests an additional copy.


5 QUIZZES (10%) 10 points each. Quizzes will be given as scheduled on the course outline. Each quiz will be based on the reading assigned for that week. Quizzes cannot be made up. The quiz will be administered at the beginning of the class. Ten minutes will be allotted for the completion of the quiz if you come late to class no extra time will be given for completing the quiz.††††



Grade ††††††††††††† Percentage†††††† Points

Quizzes†††††††††††† 10%†††††††††††††† 50

Essays††††††††††††† 10%†††††††††††††† 50

Exams††††††††††††† 80%†††††††††††††† 400

100%††††††††††††††† 500


A = 450

B = 400

C = 350

D = 300

F = 299 and below



EXTRA CREDIT: Extra credit assignments will not be given on an individual basis to raise final course grades. Like makeup exams, such projects raise serious questions of equity. In the unlikely event, such a project is made available; every member of the class will be given the opportunity to complete it.


5. Syllabus: The syllabus is a tentative schedule for the course. Each course progresses at a unique pace and it is inevitable that changes will be necessary. The instructor will announce any changes in class. In other words, one more reason for regular attendance is to stay up to date on important assignment and test dates.



6. Makeup Exams: Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances. If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor as soon as possible and before the scheduled exam. To keep the process fair for everyone in the course, students will be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a zero. Extraordinary circumstances are considered those circumstances that personally affect the studentís ability to take the exam (Illness, sudden car trouble must be documented).

7 Handouts: Handouts, including study guides, are a privilege for those students who attend class on a regular basis. No student is entitled to supplemental materials simply because they are registered for the course.

8 Incomplete Requests: Such petitions will be granted rarely and only in extraordinary circumstances. The instructor reserves the right to ask for documentation to verify the problem preventing completion of the course by the normal deadlines. If the student does not present documentation from a university office or official, the matter will be left to the instructorís discretion. All requests for incomplete must be submitted in writing to the instructor by December 2, 2004. The written request must include the reason for the request and when the incomplete will be completed.

9 Academic Dishonesty: Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: "students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." This statement encompasses the purchase or use of papers written by others. Since this course is offered frequently, it is might policy to retain photocopies of student papers written in previous years. In short, members of the class should do their own work and learn the rules for quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting.

10. Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


11. Department of Political Science Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to




12. Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Departmentís spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages Ė one with the studentís name and one without the studentís name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following yearís competition even if the student has graduated.


13. Appointments: The instructor will make every reasonable effort to be available to students. If you cannot come during scheduled office hours, please call me to schedule a mutually convenient appointment.


14. Emails:Do not notify me of absences or of reasons why you will miss or have missed class by email. Email is not a reliable media for such notifications. Contact me directly at my office telephone number 753-0961. I am in my office most days from 9:00 to 5:00.



††††††††††† Unit 1: Introduction to American Government, The Constitution, and Federalism.

††††††††††† Unit 2: Public Opinion, Parties, Interest Groups, Campaigns and Elections

 †††††††††† Unit 3: Congress and the Presidency

Unit 4: The Judiciary & Civil Liberties Civil Rights

††††††††††† Unit 5: Illinois Government



August 24

Introduction to American Government

Wilson Chapter 1††††††††††

Declaration of Independence (Wilson, page 378)


August 26- 31


Wilson Chapter 2


September 2-7

Continue Chapter 2

Wilson Chapter 3


September 9-14

Wilson Chapter 3

Illinois Handbook of Government 2003-2004 (Page 72)


September 16

Wilson Chapter 3

Illinois Handbook of Government 2003-2004 (Page 72)


September 21

Exam 1

Wilson Chapters 1, 2 and 3

Declaration of Independence

First Essay assigned.

Write a 300 word letter-to-the editor expressing your opinion on an action that a governmental official has taken. Alternatively, you may want to write a letter that urges the government to act or not to act. Include word count!

Due October 5


September 23-28

Wilson Chapter 4


September 30 October 5

Wilson Chapter 5

First Essay Due October 5


October 7-12


Wilson Chapter 5

Wilson Chapter 6


October 14-19

Wilson Chapter 6




October 21

Exam 2

Wilson Chapters 4, 5 and 6


October 26-28

Wilson Chapter 7

Illinois Handbook of Government (pages 73-77)

2nd Essay: In an essay, answer the following questions: DO NOT JUST LIST NAMES

Essay Due November 2.


In the US Senate:

1. Who is the President of the Senate? What is the Presidentís name and party identification? What Office is the President of the Senate elected to? What are the duties of the President of the Senate?


2. Who is the president pro tempore of the United States Senate? What is the president pro tempore name and party identification? What state does the president pro tempore represent in the Senate? What are the duties of the president pro tempore of the Senate?


3. Who is the Majority Leader in the United States Senate? What is the Majority Leaderís name and party identification? What state does the Majority Leader represent in the Senate? What are the duties of the Majority Leader of the Senate?


4. Who is the Minority Leader in the United States Senate? What is the Minority Leaderís name and party identification? What state does the Minority Leader represent in the Senate? What are the duties of the Minority Leader of the Senate?


In the US House of Representatives:

1. Who is the Speaker of the House Representatives? What is the Speakerís name and party identification? What State and congressional district does the Speaker represent? What are the duties of the Speaker of the House?


2. Who is the Minority Leader in the United Statesí House of Representatives? What is the Minority Leaderís name and party identification? What State and congressional district does the Minority Leader represent? What are the Minority Leaderís duties in the United States House of Representatives?


3. Who is the Majority Leader in the United Statesí House of Representatives? What is the Majority Leaderís name and party identification? What State and congressional district does the Majority Leader represent? What are the Majority Leaderís duties in the United States House of Representatives?


4. Who are the Whips? What are their duties? What party are they a member of?


November 2-4

Second Essay Due November 2.


Wilson Chapter 8



November 9-11


Wilson Chapter 10 &11


November 16

Wilson 10 & 11


November 18

Exam 3

Wilson Chapter 7, 8, 10 & 11

Essay part of final exam The essay will be handed out after the exam and is the first part of your final exam. This part is worth 25 points out of 100 and is due November 30, 2004.


November 23-30

Illinois Handbook of Government 2003-2004

Illinois Constitution (pages 100-132)

Illinois Government (pages 4-19)


December 2


Illinois Handbook

Legislative Branch (Pages 14-19)

The Executive (Pages 4-10 and 55)

The Judiciary (Pages 68-71)



Final Exam week December 6-10