POLS 308: American Chief Executive

Fall 2004

Department of Political Science

Northern Illinois University

 

Instructor: Chad J. Kniss                                                                                   MWF 10-10:50AM

e-mail: ckniss@niu.edu                                                                         Room: 246 DuSable

Office Hours: TWTH 1-3PM

                        or by appointment

Office: 186 SSRI 148 N. 3rd St.

Phone: 753.9689

 

Course Goals

 

            The purpose of the class is to provide an overview of the modern American chief executive.  This course will focus primarily on the American presidency – the most public of all American executive offices.  During the semester we will discuss the founding, creation, and development of the office of president.  The role of the elected executive in the American system of shared powers will also be examined through presidential relations with other political institutions and actors.  We will also review the recruitment and election of presidents, with a focus on the current campaign for the office.  By the end of the semester students are expected to have a greater understanding of the multiple and often paradoxical roles that American presidents play.

 

Class Format

 

            The class meets three times a week.  During the course of the week there will be a mixture of lecture and seminar (student interaction).  To facilitate in class discussion and learning, students must come to class having read the assigned readings with the expectation of engaging fellow students and the instructor in discussion.  Additionally, students will be assigned into small groups to review assigned material, develop and deliver a short presentation to the class. 

 

 Required Readings

 

            The following books are required reading and are available for purchase at the university bookstore.

 

Edwards, George, and Stephen J. Wayne. 2003.  Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy Making.  6th Ed.  New York: Thomson, Wadsworth. 0-534-60237-1

 

Wayne, Stephen J.  2003.  The Road to the White House 2004: The Politics of Presidential Elections.  7th Ed.  New York: Thomson, Wadsworth. 0-534-61425-6

 

Additionally, there are articles and other materials that you are required to read some weeks.  They will be handed out the week before we discuss them.

 

Graded Requirements

 

Class Participation and Reading Assignments:

            A student’s grade will reflect her or his participation in class.  Components of the class participation grade include (1) regular attendance and (2) regular and thoughtful participation in lectures and discussions.  Class participation will account for 10% of the total grade, so failure to fulfill either of these requirements will result in significant reduction in our final grade (by up to one letter grade).

 

Regular attendance is required, with no more than three absences during the semester.  If you miss class on a regular basis or need to miss class for an extended period for any reason, you should contact me as soon as possible.  Waiting to explain absences at the end of the semester will not suffice. 

 

            Participation not only includes showing up for class, but also having read the assigned readings and actively using this material to engage fellow students and myself in discussion.  The assigned readings are listed below in the course outline.  All students are expected to complete the required readings prior to each class week.  I will occasionally supplement our discussion with newspaper articles, journal articles, or other reading material.  Students are required to read these once they are handed out.  They will be small in size and usually thought provoking pieces that add to our learning process.  I also strongly recommend that students regularly read and review the national news (e.g.: newspapers, websites, magazines, journals, and yes, even TV).

 

Short Assignments:

            During the course of the semester each student is required to complete three short assignments: a short group presentation, a memo to the incoming or re-elected President, and an abstract about your research paper.  These three short assignments are worth 20% of the total grade, and missing one of these assignments could result in a significant reduction in your final grade. 

 

One short assignment is a short presentation to the class.  The format will be a small group presentation (3-4 people) about one topic of discussion during the week.  The presentation will require reading the assigned material and then developing and delivering an approximately 10 minute presentation.  Each member of the group must actively participate in both development and delivery.  The groups and timing of the presentations will be decided the first week of class.  The presentations will be ongoing every week after that until the end of the semester (usually 2-3 presentations a week).

 

            Another short assignment will be to write a memo to the incoming or re-elected President after the November general election.  The memo is to be completed on your own and should be at least one page and no more than two pages long (standard fonts, 12 point type, one inch margins, double spaced).  In this assignment, use what you have learned through the assigned readings and in class discussions to do two things -- explain the election outcome to the winner (e.g.: why did they win and what does their election victory/coalition mean) and give advice to the new or re-elected President about what top two or three policies and strategies they should pursue now that they have been elected.  Your memo is due no later than Friday November 19, 2004 (11AM).

 

            The third short assignment is to write an abstract for your research paper that is due at the end of the semester.  Your abstract needs to be at least one paragraph long, but no longer than one page (standard fonts, 12 point type, one inch margins, double spaced).  In the abstract you need to address three items: (1) the topic of your research paper, (2) your plan of research, and (3) at least three sources of information other than the assigned readings.  The most important parts of your abstract are to explain your topic (e.g.: your research question and why it is important) and how you plan to answer your topic/question.  I want to see how you are thinking about answering your topic/question.  Specify where you will get information (hence the listing of the three sources) and what research method you are using to analyze information and arrive at your answer.  Your abstract is due no later than Friday October 15, 2004 (11AM).  All research topics/questions must be cleared by the instructor, no later than October 22nd.

 

Exams:

            There will be two exams.  The midterm exam will be on Friday October 8, 2004.  It will cover all the assigned material and class discussions up to that point.  The final exam will be on Monday December 6, 2004 (10-11:50AM).  The final exam is not cumulative.  It will only cover the assigned material and class discussions since the midterm exam.  Both exams will consist of three parts – (1) a multiple choice section, (2) a short answer section, and (3) a short essay section.  Each exam is worth 20% of the total grade, for a combined total of 40%.  Both exams must be completed to pass the course.

 

Research Paper:

            The final course requirement is a research paper on some aspect of the modern American presidency.  Each student is free to choose a topic to examine and write about.  However, all research topics/questions must be cleared by the instructor, no later than October 22nd.  The research paper can use portions of the assigned readings, but you must use at least three other sources outside of those assigned for the class.   It is not necessary to complete the research paper to pass the course, however failure to complete the paper will result in a grade of zero (0) for 30% of the total grade.   Your research papers are due Wednesday December 1, 2004, preferably in class, but no later than 4PM in my office.

 

            Research papers should be an analytical review of research materials (readings, data, and theories) that answer the question and/or theory that you pose as your research topic.   Topics cover a range of items from reforming the presidential election system to an examination of how specific modern American presidents have interacted with other political institutions and actors in their duties as President.  No matter what topic you choose, you must demonstrate your knowledge of at least a few of the topics, theories, and/or ideas that we have covered in the required material and/or class discussions.

 

The length of research papers should be no less then seven (7) and no more than eight (8) typed double spaced pages (standard fonts, 12 point type, one inch margins), not including a title page or references.  Given the limited amount of space, your topic must be specific enough to allow a full analysis and review of the topic.  Do not go beyond eight (8) pages!  I will stop reading at the end of the eighth page and grade your paper based on the first eight pages.  All research and writing must be your own.  Academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, copying others’ work, and turning in someone else’s work as your own will not be tolerated.  Any student guilty of academic dishonesty will receive a grade of F for the paper and the course.

 

Determination of Final Grades:

            Each student’s final grade will be determined on the following basis:

 

                        Class participation:                    10%

                        3 Short assignments:                 20% (6.67% each)

                        2 Exams:                                  40% (20% each)

                        Research Paper:                       30%

 

            Missing assignments, including the research paper, will normally be counted as zero.  However, based on the situation I may allow assignments/papers to receive some credit when handed in late.  In such cases, points will be deducted on a daily basis.  Only serious emergencies, such as a student or family long-term illness, constitute grounds for an incomplete.  If you face a significant emergency during the semester you should contract me as soon as possible.  You should also contact me as soon as possible if you think you will be late on any assignment for any reason.

 

Both exams must be completed to pass the course.  Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances/emergencies.  If such circumstances/emergencies come up, please contact me as soon as possible before the exam.  Students may be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation.  A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will results in a zero and a course grade of F.

 

 

Instructor Availability

 

            Students wishing to meet with me can do so after class, during my office hours (listed on the first page), or by appointment.  My time is usually flexible (although not always) and I can arrange to meet with you.  Remember I am available to you as a resource – if you need or want to talk about the course and/or your work I am more than willing.  Please be aware that the easiest way to reach me is via email (I check it several times through out the day) or my office phone (listed on the first page).  I anticipate being gone once or twice this semester and I have arranged the course around these date, but if I need to be gone another time I will let you know as far in advance as possible.

 

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.

 

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 Department’s 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 – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s 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 year’s competition even if the student has graduated.

 

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

 

 

 

Course Outline

Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments

 

Week 1: Introduction

 

August 23         Course Introduction

                        Explanations of requirements, expectations, and policies

                        Outline of subject matter

 

August 25         More Intro and Foundations

                        Survey of Students

                        Theoretical and Constitutional Foundations

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. xvi-xvii, pp. 1-27, and Appendixes A, B, and C

 

August 27         Theoretical and Constitutional Foundations

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. xvi-xvii, pp. 1-27, and Appendixes A, B, and C

 

 

Week 2:

 

August 30         The American Presidency

 

September1      The Nomination Process I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 28-59

                        Wayne, pp. 3-25

 

September 3     The Nomination Process II

 

                        Wayne, pp. 103-170 and pp. 174 -192

 

Week 3:  

 

September 6     Labor Day – No Class

 

September 8     The Political Environment

 

                        Wayne, pp. 65-93

 

September 10  The General Election I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 60-86

                        Wayne, pp. 193-262

 

Week 4: 

 

September 13   The General Election II

                       

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 60-86

                        Wayne, pp. 193-262

 

September 13   The General Election III

                       

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 87-99

                        Wayne, pp. 262-302

 

September 15  Election 2000: An Exceptional Election?

 

Review: Edwards and Wayne, Appendix D

                                      Wayne, pp. 17-22, 51-52, 253-256, 289-290, Appendixes A, B, C

 

 

 

                                      

Week: 5

 

September 20  The Office of the President

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 190-222

 

September 22  Presidential Decision Making

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 223-251, and pp. 273-279

 

September 24   Psych and the Presidents

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 252-284

 

Week 6:

 

September 27   The President and the Public I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 100-152

 

September 29   The President and the Public II

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 100-152

 

October 1        The President and the Media I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 153-189

 

Week 7:  Midterm

 

October 4        The President and the Media II

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 153-189

 

October 6        Review for the Midterm Exam

 

October 8        Midterm Exam

                       

                        Bring a Blue Book or lined paper for writing.

 

Week 8: 

 

October 11      Off – No Class

I will be out of town this day so no class.  I suggest that you use the time to prepare the abstract for your research paper that is due Friday.

 

October 13      The President and Congress I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 330-376

 

October 15      The President and Congress II

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 330-376

                        Abstracts for research papers are due by 11AM!

 

Week 9:

 

October 18      The President and the Bureaucracy I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 285-329

 

October 20      The President and the Bureaucracy II

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 285-329

 

October 22      The President and the Judiciary

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 377-406

                        Your research paper topics must be cleared by me no later than today!

 

Week 10:

 

October 25      Shared Powers and Presidential Leadership

                       

                        Cronin & Genovese, pp. 102-113, and pp. 115-125 (photocopied)

 

October 27      Presidential Policy Making I

 

                        Review Edwards and Wayne, pp. 223-280

 

October 29      Domestic Policy Making I

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 407-439

 

Week 11:  Election Time

 

November 1     Domestic Policy Making II

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 407-439

 

November 3     Election Outcomes: Now What?

 

November 5     Domestic Policy Making III

 

 

Week 12:

 

November 8   Economic Policy Making I- Budgeting

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 440-475

 

November 10   Economic Policy Making I- Economics

 

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 440-475

 

November 12   The President and Foreign Policy I

                       

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 476-503

 

Week 13:

 

November 15   The President and Foreign Policy II

                       

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 476-503

 

November 17   The Presidency in Crisis I

           

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 504-516

 

November 19   The Presidency in Crisis II

           

                        Edwards and Wayne, pp. 504-516

                        Memos to the President are due by 11AM!

                       

 

Week 14:  Thanksgiving Week

 

November 22   Off – No Class

I am out of town so we will not have class.  Many of you will likely be on the way out of town as well, but I recommend that you use the extra time to work on your research papers that are due the Wednesday we return (12/01/04).

 

November 24   Off – No Class – Thanksgiving Break

 

November 26   Off – No Class – Thanksgiving Break

 

 

 

Week 15:  Last Week of Classes

 

November 29   The Future of the Presidency I

 

                        Wayne, pp. 306-330

                        Cornin & Genovese, pp. 322-346 (photocopy)

 

December 1     The Future of the Presidency II

 

                        Wayne, pp. 306-330

                        Cornin & Genovese, pp. 322-346 (photocopy)            

Research Papers are due, no later than 4PM my office!

 

December 3     Last Day of Classes

 

                        Survey of Students

                        Class Evaluations

                        Review for Final Exam

 

Week 16:  Final Exams

 

December 6     Final Exam (Non-cumulative)

           

                        246 DuSable Hall

                        10-11:50AM

 

                        Bring a Blue Book or lined paper for writing.