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PS40_Summer2010 - University of California Los Angeles...

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1 University of California, Los Angeles American People and Politics PS40 Summer 2010 Instructor: Phil Gussin Class location: BUNCHE 2209A Class day and time: MW 4:30-6:35PM Office: TBA Office Hours: 6:45-7:15PM Extension: Email: [email protected] Course Description In this class, we will explore the fundamentals of American government and politics. The goal of the class is to provide you with the tools you need to think critically about the institutions, political actors, and events that shape the American political system. Upon completing this course, you will be able to explain: circle6 The underlying theories behind the design of the U.S. Constitution, including the Founders less than favorable view of human nature. circle6 The system of checks and balances embodied in the Constitution. circle6 The three branches of government and the unique role each plays in our political system circle6 The extent to which the relationship between the three branches is constantly being negotiated circle6 The on-going negotiations over the proper role of the national government and state governments. circle6 The differences between conservative and liberal ideology as it pertains to the proper role of government and the “good society.” circle6 The role political parties play in organizing politics in the United States. circle6 The nature of public opinion, how it is measured, and the kind of information that public opinion polls actually provide. circle6 The extent to which political scientists believe the news media help or hinder citizens’ ability to perform their democratic functions. circle6 The debate over bias in the media from a political science perspective. circle6 How electoral rules affect our political system and the extent to which elections allow citizens to remain sovereign. circle6 The important role the bureaucracy plays in the everyday lives of Americans circle6 The on-going debate over the “living” Constitution. circle6 Some of the major economic, domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the United States today.
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2 Classroom Decorum: Like most people, I have some pet peeves that you should know about. First , it really bothers me when students engage in conversations while I am lecturing or other students have the floor. An occasional, extremely quiet comment to a fellow student is acceptable. On-going discussions are not. Second , if you use a laptop in my class, it must be for the sole purpose of taking notes. Unless directed to do otherwise, nothing else should be on your screen at any time. I reserve the right to ban an individual from using laptops. Third , as a matter of policy, I am willing to tolerate an occasional text. Repeated texts are completely unacceptable. Students who violate this policy will be told not to bring their phones to class.
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