POLS 307 - LEGISLATIVE PROCESS
Professor Barbara Burrell
115 Zulauf Hall
Office Hours: Office Hours:
Tuesdays, , Wednesdays, . I am also usually in my office on Wednesday mornings and during the day before classes on Tues. and Thurs.
The legislature is usually considered the people’s branch of government. With this idea in mind we will ask who are the people who serve as our legislators. How have they gotten elected to these positions? What are the ways in which they represent us and make laws on our behalf? How have they organized themselves to perform their lawmaking function? How should we evaluate the job they do?
Paul Herrnson, Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington, 5th edition. CQ Press.
Barbara Sinclair, Party
Students also need to purchase a Classroom Performance
In addition students are expected to read a national
newspaper on a weekly basis. The Washington
Post probably most comprehensively covers Congress. Also watch C-
Class Attendance: Students are expected to attend class each class period, be on time, pay attention, participate in class and not leave early. I determine when class ends. Do not pack up to leave early. I will take attendance. It counts toward students’ grades. If a student sleeps through class, his or her cell phone goes off or a student otherwise engages in disturbing behavior in class including chatting, he or she will be marked absent for that day.
This course schedule is tentative. We may move faster or slower depending on class participation.
I will keep you updated as to where you should be.
Week of January 15 – Introduction
Read Article 1 of the Constitution for January 17th
Begin Herrnson, Congressional Elections
Week of January 22 The Federalist Papers and begin Congressional elections
January 22: Quiz 1: on the Federalist Papers
Week of January 29: Complete Congressional Elections
Week of February 5: Who Are Our Representatives and What do We Think of Them?
Feb 5 assignment 1: Find
Sinclair, Party Wars, chaps 1 and 2
Week of February 12: Legislative Organization: Committees
Feb 12: Quiz 2 on Party Wars chapters 1-5
Week of February 19: Black History Month: African American
Representation in the
Week of February 26: Review and midterm
February 28 – Midterm examination
Week of March 4: The Senate
Sinclair, Party Wars, chap 6
Week of March 18: Women’s History Month: The Representation of Women in Congress
Week of March 25: Congressional Leadership
Week of April 1:
Film “Mr. Smith Goes to
We may finish the film on April 3 depending on my schedule for the Midwest Political Science Association meeting
Week of April 8: Congress, Foreign Policy and the Presidency
April 8 Quiz 3 on Deering reading
Week of April 15: Summarizing the Legislative Process in the Republican Years and in the 110th Congress
April 15 Assignment 2: Find two articles that describe and reflect on Nancy Pelosi’s Speakership. Write a short summary of these pieces. Think particularly about the adjectives used to describe her leadership and the actions she has taken in an attempt to lead. Try not to use highly partisan articles either “pro” or “con” regarding her speakership. Attach the articles to your paper.
Week of April 22: Congress in comparative perspective
April 22 Assignment 3: Adopt another democratic country and describe how its legislative process is structured and its elections are run. What is the size of its legislature? Is it a bicameral system? How are members elected? Is it a parliamentary system or a presidential system? Is it a proportional representation system or a “first past the post” winner take all system? What are its major parties? What can you learn about its internal structure such as use of committees and leadership? These are basic questions. Please provide additional information that you think is relevant.
Week of April 29: Overview of Representation
Final Examination: Tuesday, May 6th,
Major writing assignment: Journal and term paper
Students are required to keep a journal covering
Congressional activities of the second session of the 110th
Congress. The journal is kept by making
a weekly recording of activities based on news media accounts, use of CQ Weekly and its online information (www.cqpolitics.com), C-Span, etc.
Especially use the Washington Post
and the New York Times, plus the
This term paper must be at least ten double spaced pages. This amount is a minimum. It can and should be as long as you think necessary to convey your thoughts and to provide a thorough overview of Congressional activity during this time period. What is most important is the quality of the writing, the amount of information incorporated into the paper, and attention to the major concepts of the course. Attach your journal to the paper as an addendum.
The paper should have margins no greater than one inch on
all sides, and font no larger than Times New Roman, 12 point. Grammatical and spelling errors are
fatal! I urge you to use the
Honors Students: We will meet outside of class 2-3 times during the semester. In addition your term paper should be at least 20 pages in length. You should compare the activities of the Illinois State Legislature with the work you have done on Congress for your term paper. Keep a journal on what is occurring in the Illinois Legislature during the semester
Class attendance (30 days): 30 points
Assignment 1: 5 points
Assignment 2: 5 points
Assignment 3: 5 points
Quiz 1: 5 points
Quiz 2: 5 points
Quiz 3: 5 points
Journal and Term Paper: 80 points
Midterm Examination: 60 points
Final Examination: 60 points
Total points: 260
A = 234-260 points C = 182-207 points F = below 156 points
B = 208-233 points D = 156-181 points
Plagiarism Statement: "The attempt of any
student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced
is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students
are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an
examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part,
by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they
copy material from books, magazines, or other sources or if they paraphrase
ideas from such sources without 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." Northern
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.
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 require some type of instructional accommodation, please let me know. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources, the office on campus that provides services for students with disabilities. The CAAR office is located in the University Health Services building (753-1303).