POLS 308: The American Chief Executive Syllabus
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Course Title: The American Chief Executive
Course Number: POLS 308, Section 1
Class Location: DuSable Building, Room 461
Semester: Spring, 2008
I. Faculty Information
a. Instructor: Geoff Rogal (email@example.com)
b. Office Location: DuSable 476
c. Office Hours: Monday: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Wednesday: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Also, By Appointment
d. Mailbox Location: Zulauf 415, Outside of Departmental Office
e. Department Phone #: (815) 753-1015 (leave a message with Karen Schweitzer, Administrative Assistant, Political Science Department).
II. Course Identification:
a. Credit Hours: 3
b. Total Credit Hours: 3
c. Days and Hours Course Meets: Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 9:00-9:50 a.m.
d. Prerequisite: At least sophomore standing or consent of department. A previous course in American politics (POLS 100, 150) is highly recommended.
e. Corequisite: None
f. Course Description:
Within this course, we will explore the philosophical and constitutional origins of the American Chief Executive and the evolution of the office to gain a greater understanding for the role the President occupies in modern American politics. To this end, theoretical, historical, legal, institutional and psychological approaches will be used to examine the Presidency and those individuals who have served the office. Special attention will be given to the institutional Presidency and its relationship with Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the influence public opinion and the media have on the office. Finally, the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Presidential leadership, ethics, and decision-making and their influences on public policy will be explored.
III. Textbooks/Reading List:
1. Edwards, George, C. and Stephen J. Wayne. 2006. Presidential
Leadership: Politics and Policy Making. Seventh Edition. Belmont,
CA: Thomson Publishing Co.
2. Milkis, Sidney M. and Michael Nelson. 2008. The American
Presidency: Origins and Development. Fifth Edition. Washington, DC:
3. Pfiffner, James P. 2008. The Modern Presidency. Fifth Edition.
Belmont, CA: Thomson Publishing Co.
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.
1. Brinkley, Alan and Davis Dyer. 2004. The American Presidency. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
IV. Program/Course Goals or Major Purposes:
a. To think critically
b. To understand the origin, powers and structure of the Executive Branch.
c. To gain a better understanding of the selection, tenure, succession, and leadership of the American chief executive in the policy, administrative, and
legislative processes of American government.
d. To understand the concept of separation of powers.
e. To better understand the United States Constitution.
f. To understand the role of the President in formulating and implementing the
annual federal budget.
g. To investigate the influence special interest groups, the media and public opinion have on the President.
h. To understand the history and role of the federal bureaucracy in the American
i. To understand the relationship between the President, Congress and the
j. To gain a better understanding of Presidential War Powers.
k. To investigate the role Presidential leadership and decision making have on
public policy formulation and implementation.
V. 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 the course by March 7, 2008 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, 5/7/08 from 8:00-9:50 a.m. in DuSable 461
d. Turn off cell phones, pagers, MP 3 players and Blackberries before the start of all classes. If you have a computer, please do not surf the web, work on other assignments or chat during class.
e. Be considerate of your classmates.
f. Attendance Policy:
From past teaching experiences, I have amassed substantial empirical evidence suggesting a student who attends class regularly is more likely to perform at a higher level during course evaluations (examinations, papers, class participation) than a student who is frequently tardy or absent from scheduled classes. So, come to class! While attendance is not required, it is strongly recommended. You, or somebody else, are/is paying for this opportunity to gain knowledge—Take advantage of it!
Once again, please attend class. The examinations will consist of lecture materials, and information absorbed, comprehended and otherwise discerned from assigned readings. However, I understand a class may be missed, skipped or “blown off” on occasion. It is your responsibility to acquire the missed class material. Please, don’t—I repeat—do not ask me for lecture notes or missed materials. If a class is missed, ask a fellow student for the lecture notes. 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. Northern Illinois permits the instructor to withdraw the student(s) from the course if found plagiarizing or cheating on an assignment, paper or examination. I will not hesitate in doing so in the aforementioned cases. Each student is responsible for adhering to the code of Student Conduct as stated in the NIU Undergraduate Student Catalogue.
VI. Grading Policies/Procedures:
a. There will be three (3) examinations. Each examination will be worth 100 points. You will be tested on the required readings from the textbooks, websites and handouts, as well as the information presented during class lectures. The examinations will consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer and essay questions. Make-up exams and incompletes will be allowed only with the PRIOR approval of the instructor.
b. Additionally, you will be required to complete a research paper. The research paper will explore some aspect of the George W. Bush Presidency. Your grade will be determined by your ability to compose a well-written, legible, grammatically correct research paper (minimum 7 pages in length with 5 cited scholarly sources, double-spaced, spell-checked and typed). The paper will be evaluated according to the quality (support for the thesis, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, organization) of the information presented. The expectations for the paper will be discussed in detail during the second week of class. The final paper (in hard copy-no emailed copies) will be due on April 18, 2008. No exceptions! However, papers may be submitted prior to April 18, 2008. No late papers will be accepted. The research paper will be worth 80 points.
However, to assure you are actively researching your chosen paper topic, I will have you submit a paper proposal (abstract) by February 15, 2008 stating your thesis and providing an annotated bibliography including 4 sources (basically, cite each source and provide 3-4 sentences explaining why the book or journal article is relevant to your research topic). This will be worth 20 points.
c. The final grade will be based upon your performance on and successful completion of the aforementioned examinations and research paper.
d. The individual assignments will comprise the following percentages of your
Examination #1 100 points (25%)
Examination #2 100 points (25%)
Examination #3 100 points (25%)
Research Paper Abstract 20 points (05%)
Research Paper: 80 points (20%)
Total: 400 points 100%
e. The grading scale will be as follows:
360-400 points =A
320-359 points =B
280-319 points =C
240-279 points =D
239 or below =F
d. No extra credit will be awarded.
VII. Students With Disabilities:
NIU abides by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that 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).
VIII. Student Athletes
Student athletes should submit the official NIU Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) form to me as soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in unsatisfactory reports when academic progress is requested from the NIU Associate Director of Athletics.
IX. Course Schedule/Calendar:
Spring 2008 Semester Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments
(Assigned Readings and Examinations May Change At the Discretion of Instructor. If so, I will inform the class prior to the change(s).
Week/Date: Required Readings
Part I: The Origins and Evolution of the Presidency
January 14: Introduction, distribute syllabi and other necessary stuff
January 16: Lecture: Approaches to Studying the Presidency
Reading: Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 1, pp. 13-27
January 18: Reading: Pfiffner, Chapter 1, pp. 1-18
January 21: No Class, Martin Luther King Day!
January 23, 25: Lecture: The Constitutional Convention and Creating the Presidency
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 1, pp. 1-23 and Chapter 2, pp. 26-63 (pay special attention to pp. 60-62)
Federalist Papers #s 47-48 can be accessed via:
http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed47.html (Paragraphs 1-3)
January 28, 30: Lecture: The Pre-modern Presidency and Sources of Constitutional Ambiguities
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 3 (George Washington and John Adams), pp. 68-93 and
Pacificus/Helvidius Debates, Access from the website:
February 1: Readings: Milkis, Chapter 4(Thomas Jefferson), pp. 97-114 and
Milkis, Chapter 2, pp. 63-64 and Chapter 16 (Vice-President), pp. 451-461
February 4 Lecture: Jacksonian Democracy
(Distribute handout: Elite versus Popular Democracy)
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 5, pp. 121-147
February 6, 8: Lecture: Expanding Presidential Power
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 6 (Abraham Lincoln), pp. 151-170 and Chapter 7 (Reaction against Presidential Power), pp. 173-180
February 11, 13: Lecture: The Rise of Executive Power, the Progressives
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 8, pp. 208-232 and Chapter 9, pp. 237-255
February 15: Research Paper Proposal due by the beginning of class!
Lecture: The End of the Progressive Era
Reading: Milkis, Chapter10, pp. 258-277
February 18: Lecture: Selecting the President
(Distribute Handout: The Nomination Process)
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 2, pp. 28-58 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 19-25
February 20: Review for Examination #1
February 22: Examination #1(Weeks 1-6)
Part II: The Modern Presidency
February 25: Reading: Milkis Chapter 10, The Triumph of Conservative Republicanism, pp. 258-277
February 27, 29: Lecture: The Consolidation of Executive Power
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 11, pp. 280-317
March 3: Lecture: The Executive Office of the President
Reading: Pfiffner, Chapter 4, The Institutional Presidency pp. 100-114
March 5, 7: Lecture: The Presidential Election
(Distribute Handout: The Electoral College)
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 3, pp. 59-99 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 25-45
March 10-14: Spring Break, No Classes!!
Part III: The President and the Public
March 17: Lecture: Public Opinion and Polling
Reading: Edwards, Chapter 4, pp. 100-146
March 19, 21: Lecture: Personalizing the Presidency. Kennedy-Carter
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 12, pp. 323-360 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 6, pp. 173-181
March 24: Lecture: The President and the Media
Readings: Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 45-54 and
Edwards, Chapter 5, pp. 154-192
March 26: Review for Examination #2
March 28: Examination #2 (Weeks 7-11)
Part IV: Institutional Checks on the Executive Branch
March 31: Lecture: The President and Congress
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 10, pp. 330-376 and
Pfiffner, Chapter, 6, pp. 153-171
April 2 and 4: Lecture: The President and the Judiciary
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 11 pp. 378-404 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 8, pp. 255-284
April 7, 9: Lecture: The Federal Bureaucracy
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 9, pp. 286-324 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 5, pp. 120-146
April 11: Lecture: The Federal Budget
Reading: Edwards, Chapter 13, pp. 442-471
Part V: Executive Leadership
April 14: Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Domestic Policy
Reading: Edwards, Chapter 12, pp. 409-438
April 16: Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Foreign Policy
Readings: Edwards, Chapter 14, pp. 475-494 and
Pfiffner, Chapter 7, pp. 203-217
April 18: Research Paper Due (Final Draft)!!!!!!!!
April 21: Lecture: The Presidency of Ronald Reagan
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 13, pp. 366-393 and
Pfiffner, pp. 181-184
April 23 and 25: Lecture: Case Studies in Presidential Leadership and Decision Making
Reading: Pfiffner, Chapter 7, pp. 217-248
April 28: Lecture: The Presidency of Bill Clinton
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 14, pp. 398-419
April 30: Lecture: The Presidency of George W. Bush and Beyond
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 15, pp. 423-447
May 2: Review for Examination #3
Seventeenth Week Final Exam Week
May 7, 2008 Examination #3 (Weeks 12-16)
Special Time: Wednesday: 8:00-9:50 a.m.
(This time is designated by the university)