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, 2009
I. Faculty Information
a. Instructor: Geoff Rogal (email@example.com)
b. Office Location: DuSable 476
c. Office Hours: Wednesday: 11:00a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Thursday: 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Also, By Appointment
d. Mailbox Location: Zulauf 415, Outside of Departmental Office
e. Department Phone #: (815) 753-1015 (leave a message with one of the
administrative assistants at the Political Science Department).
II. Course Identification:
a. Credit Hours: 3
b. Total Credit Hours: 3
c. Days and Hours Course Meets: Tuesday/Thursday: 12:30-1:45 p.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.Campbell, Colin et al. 2008. The George W. Bush Legacy. Washington,
DC: CQ Press.
2. Kernell, Samuel. 2007. Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential
Leadership. Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
3. Milkis, Sidney M. and Michael Nelson. 2008. The American
Presidency: Origins and Development. Fifth Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
4. Neustadt, Richard E. 1990. Presidential Power and the Modern
Presidents. New York: The Free Press.
5. Pika, Joseph and John Maltese. 2008. The Politics of the Presidency.
Seventh Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Additional handouts and required readings listed below may be accessed via web addresses, Blackboard or through NIU’s electronic reserves. 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 6, 2009 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: May 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm 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 as this is distracting to other students
and disrespectful towards the instructor.
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!
Furthermore, 50 points of your final grade is based upon the quantity and quality of your participation. I expect everyone to contribute during class discussions! Moreover, information will be presented during lectures and discussions that will not be found in the required readings.
Once again, please attend class. The examinations will consist of lecture materials, and information absorbed, comprehended and otherwise discerned from assigned readings and lectures. 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.
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. Please consult NIU’s Academic Integrity webpage at
www.ai.niu.edu/ai/ for further information.
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 8 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 and emailed to me) will be due on April 21, 2009. No exceptions! However, papers may be submitted prior to April 21st. No late papers will be accepted. The paper is worth 100 pts.
However, to assure you are actively researching your chosen paper topic, I will have you submit a paper proposal (abstract) by February 17, 2009 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). The abstract is worth 50 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 (20%)
Examination #2 100 points (20%)
Examination #3 100 points (20%)
Research Paper 100 points (20%)
Abstract 50 points (10%)
Attendance/Participation 50 points (10%)
Total: 500 points 100%
e. The grading scale will be as follows:
450-500 points =A
400-449 points =B
350-399 points =C
300-349 points =D
299 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 #: 815-753-1303).
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 2009 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 13: Introduction, distribute syllabi and other necessary stuff
January 15: Lecture: Approaches to Studying the Presidency
Readings: Campbell, Chapter 14, the Legacy of the George
W. Bush Presidency-A Revolutionary President? pp. 325-34
and Pika, Chapter 1, pp. 1-31
January 20: Lecture: The Constitutional Convention and Creating the Presidency
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 1, pp. 1-23,
Article, Roche; “The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus
In Action” Blackboard
Handouts: The Articles of Confederation, Debate of the Constitutional Convention and Checks and Balances Blackboard
January 22: Readings: Milkis, Chapter 2, pp. 26-63 (pay special
attention to pp. 60-62)
Federalist Papers #s 47, 48 and 51 can be accessed via:
http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed47.html (Paragraphs 1-3)
January 27: 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:
January 29: 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 3 Lecture: Jacksonian Democracy
(Elite versus Popular Democracy) Blackboard
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 5, pp. 121-147
February 5: Lecture: Expanding Presidential Power
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 6 (Abraham Lincoln), pp. 151-170 and Chapter 7 (Reaction against Presidential Power), pp. 173-180
February 10: Lecture: The Rise of Executive Power, the Progressives
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 8, pp. 208-232 and Chapter 9, pp. 237-255
February 12: Lecture: The End of the Progressive Era
Reading: Milkis, Chapter10, pp. 258-277
February 17: Research Paper Proposal due by the beginning of class!
Lecture: the Evolution of the Presidential Selection Process
Readings: Pika, Chapter 2, pp. 37-83,
Handouts: The Nomination Process & Electoral College
February 19 Lecture: The Permanent Campaign
Reading: Pika, pp. 136-137
Review for Examination #1
Part II: The Modern Presidency
February 24: Examination #1(Weeks 1-6)
February 26: Lecture: The Modern Presidency
Reading: Milkis Chapter 10, The Triumph of Conservative Republicanism, pp. 258-277
March 3: Lecture: The Consolidation of Executive Power
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 11, pp. 280-317
March 5: Lecture: and the Executive Office of the President
Readings: Pika, Chapter 6, pp. 246-89 and the Economic
Sub presidency, pp. 388-407
March 9-13: Spring Break, No Classes!!
Part III: Institutional Checks on the Executive Branch
March 17: Lecture: The President and Congress
Reading: Pika, Chapter 5, pp. 200-238
March 19: Lecture: The President and the Judiciary
Reading: Pika, Chapter 7, pp. 298-327
March 24: Lecture: Presidential Leadership in the Washington Community
Reading: Neustadt, Preface-p 49 (Chapter 3)
March 26: Lecture: The Federal Budget and Economic Policy
Reading: Neustadt, pp. 50-90 (Chapters 4-5)
March 31: Lecture: The War Powers Act of 1973 and
Signing Statements and Executive Orders
Reading: Pika, pp. 221-23
Review for Exam #2
April 2: Examination #2: (Weeks 7-12)
Part IV: The President and the Public
April 7: Lecture: The President and the Public
Reading: Pika, Chapter 3, pp. 93-136
April 9: Lecture: Personalizing the Presidency. Kennedy-Carter
and Psychological Approaches to Assessing
Reading: Milkis, Chapter 12, pp. 323-360
April 14: Lecture: The Presidency of Ronald Reagan
Readings: Milkis, Chapter 13, pp. 366-385
April 16: Lecture: Going Public
Reading: Kernell, pp. 1-45 (Chapters 1 and 2)
April 21: Research Paper Due (Final Draft)!!!!!!!!
Lecture: Avenues of Going Public
Reading: Kernell, pp. 48-106 (Chapters 3 and 4)
April 23: Lecture: The Growth of Going Public and a Case Study of
Going Public: Reagan and His First Three Budgets
Reading: Kernell, pp. 110-177(Chapters 5 and 6)
Part V: Executive Leadership and Public Policy
April 28: Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Domestic Policy
Reading: Pika, Chapter 8, pp. 333-362
April 30: Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: National Security
and Foreign Policy
Reading: Pika, chapter 10, pp. 412-446
(I will schedule a review session for the final exam for those students interested)
Seventeenth Week Final Exam Week
May 7, 2009 Examination #3 (Weeks 13-16)
Special Time; same location: Thursday: 12:00-1:50 pm
(This time is designated by the university)