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Syllabus PSCI 1101 spring 2009

Syllabus PSCI 1101 spring 2009 - PSCI 1101 The American...

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1 PSCI 1101: The American Political System Spring 2009 University of Colorado Department of Political Science Professor E. Scott Adler [email protected] 131B Ketchum (303) 492-6659 Office Hours : Mon. 10-11, Thurs. 11-12 or by appointment web: CULearn logic.cqpress.com C OURSE D ESCRIPTION This course introduces students to the study of American Politics from the perspective of a Political Scientist. We will undertake an in-depth examination of some of the critical topics in American politics, such as the foundations of government, its rules and institutions (Congress, the courts, etc.), and variations in behavior of different actors in the political process. I will try to emphasize differing perspectives on why government acts the way it does, why political actors (elected officials, bureaucrats, voters, interest groups, etc.) behave the way they do, and why policies are the way they are. An underlying theme to the course draws on an important set of interrelated theoretical concepts of contemporary Political Science: that actors are rational and strategic, and that structures and outcomes in politics are often a result of the need for many individuals to act collectively . Lectures will often be structured around current debates in American politics (e.g. presidential power, partisan polarization, etc.). While the subject of each lecture will be related to the day’s readings, they will not necessarily cover the exact same material. I will try to provide as much opportunity as possible for discussion and your comments. Thus, I expect that all students will be active participants in their own education. While I feel it is important to emphasize an analytical approach to the study of politics, I also try to focus on the important political issues of the day. This means that all students must keep informed of political events occurring throughout the semester. At the end of the course students should not only understand much about the institutions and actors that constitute the political process in the United States, but should also have some of the basic intellectual tools necessary to do more advanced study in political science and other social science fields. Updates to the syllabus, lecture slides, grades, and other course-related information will be posted on the website (CULearn). Supplementary material to the textbook (chapter summaries, review questions, etc.) are available at the textbook website ( logic.cqpress.com ). Like many courses in American politics, we tackle subjects that are sometimes viewed as controversial. It is imperative that everyone (instructors and students alike) strives to maintain an environment that is conducive to learning. We should always remember that people bring differences with them into the classroom and that these differences should be respected. Thus, I ask that each of us maintain civility when asking questions and making comments. Likewise, questions and comments by others should be treated with civility at all times.
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2 T EXTS Reading will come from a textbook and a reader. Please purchase the following books.
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