Introduction to American Government and Politics Syllabus
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Course Title: Introduction to American Government and Politics
Course Number: POLS 100, Section 8
Class Location: DuSable Building, Room 459
Semester: Spring, 2007
I. Faculty Information
a. Instructor: Geoff Rogal (email@example.com)
b. Office Location: DuSable 476
c. Office Hours: Tuesday: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Also, By Appointment
d. Mailbox Location: Zulauf 415, Outside of Departmental Office
e. Department Phone #: (815) 753-1011 (to leave a message)
II. Course Identification:
a. Credit Hours: 3
b. Total Credit Hours: 3
c. Days and Hours Course Meets: Wednesday from 6:30-9:10 p.m.
d. Prerequisite: None
e. Corequisite: None
f. Course Description:
Within this course we will explore basic principles of the constitution, and the structure and functions of the federal government including Congress, the Presidency, the federal court system and bureaucracy. The roles of political parties, pressure groups and public opinion in America are also examined. Special attention is given to English and American political philosophy and theory.
III. Textbooks/Reading List:
Jillson, Calvin. 2005. American Government. Third Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Additional handouts and required readings listed below may be accessed via web addresses, Blackboard or through NIU’s electronic library. It is your responsibility to read these articles before attending class.
b. Highly Recommended
Jillson, Calvin. 2005. Study Guide for American Government. Third Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
IV. Program/Course Goals or Major Purposes:
a. To think critically
b. To understand the ideas and values which influence, shape, change and govern
the democratic process in the United States of America.
c. To understand and evaluate the United States' governing authority through a process of checks and balances.
d. To illustrate the function of a republic as related to other forms of governing political systems.
e. To better understand the United States Constitution.
V. Course End Competencies:
At the end of the course, you will be expected to know the following:
a. The concepts of freedom, order and equality; and why democracy is the basis for the United States.
b. The tenets of popular democracy, elite democracy and pluralism in relation to a system of participatory democracy.
c. The origins and evolution of American federalism.
d. The role of the two party system in America.
e. The role and organization of Congress, the Presidency, and the federal court system.
f. The effect and power of PAC's, special interest groups and the federal bureaucracy in the American political process.
g. Specific Supreme Court cases and their impact upon civil rights and civil liberties, economic policies, foreign policies and interest groups.
h. How public opinion is shaped, manipulated and measured in our system of government.
i. Voting behavior and some explanations for how and why people vote.
j. The (mis)use of campaign finance laws during primaries and general elections.
h. The origins of fundamental theories which influenced the Framers of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights.
VI. Classroom Policies/Procedures, i.e. The Rules of the Game
a. Any student who fails to complete the following assignments will not receive a
satisfactory grade for this course.
b. Withdrawal Policy:
A student who does not withdraw from a course by the designated withdraw date may receive a grade of ‘F', depending on course progress and\or course attendance, which will become a part of the student's permanent record. Please note the withdraw date at www.courselistings.niu.edu
c. Final Exam Dates:
Final Exam: Wednesday 5/9/07 from 6:00-7:50 p.m. in DuSable 459
d. Turn off cell phones, pagers and Blackberries before the start of all classes.
e. Be considerate of your classmates.
f. Attendance Policy:
Given the class meets once a week, it is imperative that you attend class! However, I understand a class may be missed, skipped or “blown off”. So, I will allow two absences before your final course grade will be effected. Upon reaching three (3) absences, your final course grade will be deducted one letter grade (examples: A to B; B to C; C to D or D to F).
Once again, please attend class. The examination will consist of lecture materials, and information absorbed, comprehended and otherwise discerned from assigned readings. If a class is missed, ask a fellow student for the lecture notes. It is your responsibility to acquire the missed class material. You might have to wash his\her car, but the reward of increased knowledge and understanding is worth it!!!
g. Cheating, Plagiarism and Student Conduct:
If found cheating on an exam, the student(s) will receive a grade of zero for that exam. If plagiarism occurs, the student(s) will also receive a zero for that paper, activity or project. Each student is responsible for adhering to the code of Student Conduct as stated in the NIU Undergraduate Student Catalogue.
VII. Grading Policies/Procedures:
a. Each examination (mid-term and final) is worth 20% of your final grade. You will be tested on the required readings and class lecture material. There will be two (2) examinations comprising 40% of your final grade.
b. Also, I will assign three (3) short papers (2-3 pages in length, double spaced, spell-checked and typed). 20% of your final grade will be based upon the quality (spelling, grammar, sentence structure, organization) of your papers.
c. The remaining 40% of your final grade will be based upon your quiz scores covering the required readings for that week (1 per week, 15 questions), attendance and participation during class. The quizzes will be administered at the end of each class to ensure students keep up with the readings and attend class. I will drop your two lowest quiz grades. Please arrive to class on time, prepared and awake. I will calculate individual examinations, papers and the final grade based upon percentages. Thus, the grading scale will be as follows:
59% or below =F
d. No extra credit will be awarded.
e. No late papers will be accepted.
f. Make-up exams and incompletes will be allowed only with the prior approval of the instructor.
VIII. Students With Disabilities:
NIU abides by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please tell me early in the semester so I can help you attain the needed assistance. You will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities. The CAAR office is located on the 4th Floor of the University Health Services Building (telephone #: 753-1303).
IX. Course Schedule/Calendar:
Fall 2006 Semester Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments
(Assigned Readings and Examinations May Change At the Discretion of Instructor)
Part I: Foundations
Wednesday, 1/17/2007 Introductions, Distribute Syllabi
Introduction to Political Science
Elite Democracy/Popular Dem. Handout (Blackboard)
The Political Spectrum (Blackboard)
Wednesday, 1/24/07 Chapter 1: The Origins of American Political Principles (A brief history of democracy)
Chapter 2: The Revolution & the Constitution
Declaration of Independence, Appendix A, pages 441-43 in textbook
The Articles of Confederation (Blackboard)
Debate of the Constitutional Convention (Blackboard)
Quiz #1: Chapter 2
Writing Assignment #1: Due at the beginning of class, Wednesday, January 31, 2007
First, read Pro and Con: Do We Need a Bill of Rights? The Federalists’ Dilemma located on page 43 in the textbook.
Next, in a 2-3 page, typed, double-spaced, coherent paper address the following questions:
a. What rights are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution?
b. Briefly describe why the Federalists opposed this amendment; and anti-Federalists supported the amendment. What are their respective positions?
c. Finally, take a stand. Do these argument(s) merit consideration by contemporary readers? What do you think? Which argument makes better sense to you? Support your position.
Wednesday, 1/31/07 Paper #1 Due
Chapter 3: Federalism and American Political Development
Grants and General Revenue Sharing (Blackboard)
Supreme Court case: Gonzales v Raich (2005)
Go to www.law.cornell.edu and search for: Gonzales v. Raich (2005). Compare and contrast the opposing interpretations of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce (Article I, Sec. 8 of the US Constitution).
Quiz #2: Chapter 3
Wednesday, 2/7/07 Chapter 4: Political Socialization and Public Opinion
Be prepared to discuss Pro and Con: Knowledge, Ignorance and the Democratic Process, on page 90 in textbook.
In class DVD: America in Black and White
Quiz #3: Chapter 4
Part II: American Political Culture
Wednesday, 2/14/07 Chapter 5: The Mass Media and the Political Agenda
Article: On the Bias (July/Aug. 2002) (Blackboard)
Access the website www.ropercenter.uconn.edu for more information on the mass media
Article: Joseph Cappella and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, News Frames, Political Cynicism and Media Cynicism, (www.jstor.org)
Quiz #4: Chapter 5
Wednesday, 2/21/07 Chapter 6: Interest Groups and Social Movements
James Madison, Federalist #10: The Union as Safeguard against Domestic Faction and Insurrection, pages 462-65, Appendix D in textbook
Quiz #5: Chapter 6
Writing Assignment #2: Due at the beginning of class, Wednesday, February 28, 2007
First, access website: www.uspolitics.org and click on ‘IDEALOG’
Read the first section of the program explaining ideologies
Next, take the 20 question survey and answer the questions by clicking the button corresponding to your answer.
Finally, write (type) a 2 page paper explaining to which ideological category you belong based upon your answers. Does this surprise you? Why or why not??
Wednesday, 2/28/07 Paper #2 Due
Chapter 7: Political Parties
Article: V.O. Key, A Theory of Critical Elections, Journal of Politics (1955), pgs. 3-11. (www.jstor.org)
Quiz #6: Chapter 7
Wednesday, 3/7/07 Midterm Examination: Chapters 1-7 plus supplemental readings and class lectures
March 10-18, 2007 Spring Break, NO CLASS!!!
Ninth Week Chapter 8: Voting, Campaigns and Elections
Wednesday, 3/21/07 Access website: www.campaignfinance.org . Be prepared to discuss the pros and cons of the Supreme Court cases: Buckley v Valeo (1976) and McConnell v FEC (2003). See pages 212-13 in textbook.
Do we need campaign finance? Why or why not?
In class DVD: Air Wars
Quiz #7: Chapter 8
Part III: Institutions
Wednesday, 3/28/07 Chapter 9: Congress: Lawmaking and Domestic Representation
Article: Pork, A Microcosm of the Overspending Problem (Blackboard)
How a Bill Becomes a Law, p. 237
Quiz #8: Chapter 9
Wednesday, 4/4/07 Chapter 10: The President: Governing in Uncertain Times
Article: The Electoral College (Blackboard)
Article: Who Picks the President? (Blackboard)
James Madison, Federalist #51: The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments, pgs. 466-68, Appendix D in textbook.
Quiz #9: Chapter 10
Wednesday, 4/11/07 Chapter 11: Bureaucracy: Redesigning Government
Article: Mark P. Petracca, Predisposed to Oppose: Political Scientists and Term Limit, Polity (1992), Vol. 24, No. 4, pgs. 657-72 (www.jstor.org)
Quiz #10: Chapter 11
Writing Assignment #3: Due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, April, 18, 2007
First, go to the website www.gpoaccess.gov/wcomp/index.html and access The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. The website is published by the Office of the Federal Register and contains statements, messages and other presidential materials released by the White House during the preceding week.
Second, once at the website, click browse to access the years. Third, pick one year.
Fourth, choose one month of the year and look at the table of contents for each week.
Finally, write (type) a 2-3 page paper addressing the following questions:
Wednesday, 4/18/07 Paper #3 Due
Chapter 12: The Federal Courts: Activism versus Restraint
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #78: The Judiciary Department, pgs. 468-472, Appendix D in textbook
Quiz #11: Chapter 12
Part IV: Domestic and International Policy
Wednesday, 4/25/07 Chapter 13: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: Balance or Conflict
The Bill of Rights (Blackboard)
Quiz #12: Chapter 13
Wednesday, 5/2/07 Chapter 15: America’s Place in a Dangerous World
In class DVD: Illegal Immigration
Discussion: What is the Bush Doctrine?
Access the website www.benjaminrbarber.com/revisited and read the articles by Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld and Jihad vs. McWorld Revisited.
Wednesday, 5/9/07 Note: Final Examination will begin at 6:00 p.m. in DuSable 459.
Final Examination: Chapters 8-13, and 15 plus supplemental readings and class lectures
Final Grades Submitted.
You may pick-up your final examination with your final course grade at the Political Science Office, Zulauf 415.