POLS 001: American Political System
4 Credits – Two Sections Offered – CRN’s 40288, 42573
Constitutional principles; organization and operation of the national government; and dynamics of power within the U.S. political system.
POLS 090: Turmoil in the U.S. Congress
4 Credits – CRN 43333
Recent inter- and intra-party battles have at times left the Congress incapable of action, leading to institutional gridlock and government shutdowns. In those cases in which congress has acted, partisan polarization has made it virtually impossible to work across party lines, aggravating inter-party conflict. The problem of institutional struggles has been exacerbated by battles within each party, leading to instability in congressional leadership. The Republican House Speaker was forced to resign in 2015 when members of his own party threatened to force him to “vacate the chair.” The current Republican Speaker, buffeted by competing factions, has announced his retirement. And the Democratic House Minority Leader faced a strong challenge for her position from within her own party at the beginning of this congress. In this class we will examine the dynamics of electoral campaigns and the changing nature of media coverage of elections and congress as an institution. Insights generated from this analysis will be applied through a simulation of congressional elections which will, then, provide a foundation for exploring the Congress’s current institutional challenges.
POLS 090: Dreams and Nightmares of American Political Thought
4 Credits – CRN 42019
This course will be taught in the Socratic Method which means students will be called on at random to answer questions and follow-up questions. We will begin by critically examining the “founding” dreams of what the USA might become by reading the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Next, we will briefly look at what the USA was becoming just a few generations after the founding by reading Alexis de Tocqueville. Lastly we will think about what the USA has become, and might yet become, through several works of contemporary fiction. We finish the course asking the fundamental American question: Can contemporary Americans enjoy the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? Or, is it time for another revolution within the U.S. political system.