American Government and Politics

Fall 2004

Cherish . . . the spirit of your people and keep alive their attention. . . . If once they become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves.

      - Thomas Jefferson

Instructor: LeAnn Beaty

Office: DuSable 476

Office Hours: MW 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM; and by appointment

Email: lbeaty1@niu.edu

Phone: 753-1818

Blackboard: http://webcourses.niu.edu/  



Course Objectives


This course is designed to provide students with knowledge and understanding of American government and politics; the role of citizens in a democratic society; to develop in students an appreciation of public affairs issues; the role of the United States in a global context; and to encourage students to use analytical tools to enhance society’s understanding of public problems and search for solutions. 




 Required Textbook


The Challenge of Democracy, Brief Edition, 5th Ed., Kenneth Janda, Jeffrey Berry, Jerry Goldman, and Kevin Hula (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004).  



Required Assignments


Idealogue Quiz/Essay                  50 points  (09/01/04)

First Exam                                100 points  (09/08/04)

Second Exam                           100 points  (10/11/04)

Third Exam                               100 points  (11/10/04)

Fourth Exam                             100 points  (12/01/04)

Blackboard/Attendance              50 points  (tracked weekly)


Total                            500 points




Exams:  There will be four exams during the semester consisting of 50 multiple choice questions covering material from class readings, lectures, and discussions.


Quiz/Essay:  There will be one essay assignment based on an Ideologue Quiz to be taken online at http://idealog.org/ followed by a 2-3 page essay summarizing your findings:


  • Step 1:  Complete the IDEAlog 7.0 self-test on-line:

ü      click on “Run Idealogue” under Options;

ü      click “Run Idealogue” in the box;

ü      click “Next” (you do not need to enter your email address);

ü      click on “Self-Test”

ü      Take test and print out results


  • Step 2:  Write a 2-3 page essay (typed, 1” margins, 12 font) summarizing:  

ü      Introduction relating to the perceived or real purpose of the Ideologue exercise

ü       Your test results (i.e. were you more conservative on some positions and liberal on others)

ü      Whether you agreed or disagreed with the findings, and why

ü      Whether you felt that this survey was well designed

ü      Conclusion (i.e. how do conflicting ideological positions contribute to democratic principles)  




Attendance:  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class period; students arriving after roll call will not be added.  Attendance may be used for consideration if the final grade is borderline.


Blackboard Discussion:  Students are required to post a minimum of five responses (possible 10 pts. per post) over duration of the semester to questions placed on NIU’s Blackboard Learning System.  Responses should be brief but substantive, using sound logic and reference to sources, including the textbook or credible news sources such as Newsweek, Times, The Chicago Tribune or Washington Post (cite your source).  Keep responses to other student posts to a maximum of two per week.  **Blackboard Etiquette:  While lively debate and dialogue is encouraged, remember there is a ‘real’ person at the other end of these posts.  I will monitor all comments; use good judgment.


Course Grade


Your course grade will be based on total points earned for the course.  The following grading scale will be used in assigning course grade:


450-500 points             A

400-449 points             B

350-399 points             C

300-349 points             D

Below 349 points                     F



Make-Up Exams


You are expected to take the exams at the scheduled times. If you must miss one of the four in-class exams because of illness, family emergency, or some other legitimate reason, you must contact me before the date of the scheduled exam. Requests to take a make-up exam will require some documentation or other evidence attesting to your circumstances. If you fail to contact me within 24 hours of the date of the missed exam, you automatically forfeit the opportunity to take a makeup exam, and your grade for that exam will be recorded as zero. All makeup exams will be scheduled by the Instructor during course office hours.  


**There will be no makeups allowed for late assignments or participation points. 




Because class attendance and course grades are demonstrably and positively related, the University expects students to attend all class sessions of this course.  Information covered in class may not be found in the texts, and test questions may be taken from this material.


Academic Integrity


Academic honesty is expected of every student. In POLS 100, academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following:

§         Looking at another student’s answers during an exam;

§         Allowing another student to look at your answers during an exam;

§         Using notes not approved by the Instructor during an exam;

§         Removing an exam without authorization; and

§         Making copies by any method of any questions on an exam.


 Classroom Etiquette


Please demonstrate courtesy and respect toward others in class. This includes respecting the opinions of others and refraining from talking while they are speaking. While the class is in progress, please do not read newspapers or books for some other class and please and turn off all electronic devices (i.e., cell phones, pagers, PDAs). Also, please make every effort to come to class on time. If you must leave early let me know before class begins.


Dropping the Course


It is your responsibility to understand the University’s procedures for dropping a class. If you stop attending this class but do not follow proper procedure for dropping the class you will receive a failing grade and will also be financially obligated to pay for the class. Check the drop deadline in the Academic Calendar for the semester.



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.


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 http://polisci.niu.edu






Note: This schedule and the reading assignments are tentative.  Any changes will be announced in class. 


Week       of 

Required:  Janda Text, Events,  and Websites for review



Aug.  23


Introduction:  Syllabus
Ch. 1:  Dilemmas of Democracy





BB #1

Aug. 30

Ch. 2:  The Constitution

     AUG 30-SEP. 2:  Republican National Convention


BB #2


(W Sept. 1)


Sept. 6

Ch. 3:  Federalism

     ***no class September 8 – Labor Day***



BB #3

Sept. 13

Ch. 4:  Public Opinion and Media


Exam 1

(W Sept. 8)


Sept. 20

Ch. 5:  Participation and Voting


BB #4

Sept. 27

Ch. 6:  Political Parties, Campaigns & Elections



     SEPT 30: Presidential Debate #1


BB #5

Oct. 4

Ch. 7:  Interest Groups

     OCT 5:  Vice Presidential Debate

     OCT 8:  Presidential Debate #2 






BB #6

Oct. 11

Ch. 8:  Congress

     OCT 13:  Presidential Debate #3


Exam 2

(M Oct. 11)

Oct. 18

Congress Cont’d (Illinois General Assembly)


     www.renewamerica.us/ (Alan Keyes)



BB #7

Oct. 25

Ch. 9:  The Presidency





BB #8


Nov. 1

Ch. 10:  The Bureaucracy



BB #9


Nov. 8

Ch.  11:  The Courts


Exam 3

(W Nov. 10)


Nov. 15

Ch. 12 and 13:  Civil Liberties & Rights


BB #10

Nov. 22

Civil Rights, cont’d

    ***no class November 24 – Thanksgiving***



Nov. 29

Ch. 14:  Public Policymaking/Budgeting

     Last Day of Class:  Dec. 1, 2004

Exam 4

(W Dec. 1)