Introduction To Political Science
This course will examine the principles, structure, and problems of American government. Students will cover the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of California, political philosophies, political institutions, amendments and interpretations, the rights and obligations of citizens and Federal/State, State/Local, and contemporary Local/State/Federal government relationships.
Outcomes and Objectives - Student Learning Outcomes
Acquire a strong understanding of how the American Political System developed and why elites serve as important participants in every society.
Come to appreciate how theory helps us understand past events, presently unfolding events and even helps researchers to better predict future outcomes. Students will come to realize that theory serves as a vital tool in all fields, whether they are based in the social or natural sciences.
Better differentiate social science from natural science. Students will also come to appreciate political science as a distinct subfield of the social sciences.
All course materials are made available as Adobe Acrobat files (PDFs).
February 8th: Lecture will
introduce the course. Students will be introduced to the concepts of elitism
and pluralism. Political science will be defined as a distinct field of the
February 15th: NO CLASS!
HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY!
February 22nd: Class continues to review the fundamentals of our
discipline. We will cover elitism, pluralism, rational choice theory, and other
relevant theoretical constructs. The class will learn that the United States is
not a pure democracy, but rather a democratic republic. The class then will
examine degrees of policy changes, conflicts, and the concepts of stability /
instability and rampant instability. READ: Chapters 1 & 2 from “American
Government And Politics Today.”
March 1st: Degrees of policy changes, conflict and the concepts
of stability / instability, and rampant instability are matters of great
concern. Students will begin to examine those classical theorists who had a
great influence over the Founding Fathers. The class will learn about the
Organic Laws of America. The class will then discuss federalism and the balance
of power between our federal and state governments. READ: Chapter 3 from
“American Government And Politics Today.”
- Minor Paper Assignment #1 is due March 31st!
March 8th: Our class discusses
civil liberties. READ: Chapter 4 from “American Government and Politics Today.”
March 15th: The class discusses civil rights. Lecture then shifts
to how elites influence public opinion as a tool to maintain power. Discussion
then focuses on how members of the mass class can also use propaganda and
manipulation to assume positions among the elite class. READ: Chapters 5 &
6 from “American Government and Politics Today.”
March 22nd: This class covers American federalism and the various
responses available to elites when countering mass protests. Interest group conflict is our primary
topic of discussion. The discussion
then discusses whether political parties are a fundamental aspect of our
political system. READ: Chapters 7 &
8 from “American Government and Politics Today.”
March 29th: NO CLASS! SPRING
April 5th: NO CLASS! SPRING
April 12th: Lecture
argues that the theory of singular government deeply influenced founding
fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and even later
political leaders like Abraham Lincoln to present leaders of today. John Locke’s “Two Treatises on Government” is
recognized as being perhaps the first to articulate the basic principles of
modern liberalism. Students will discover how greatly Locke and other great
philosophers influenced the formation of our government. Lockean thought is the
main focus of our class. REVIEW: “Two Treatises On Government.”
Quiz #2 is on April 12th!
April 19th: The class will explore
different examples of presidential power. Discussion will then shift to the
multiple federal agencies that operate in various capacities. Students will
discover that federal bureaucracies can create their own regulations in their
attempt to follow the intent of Congress. READ:
Chapters 11 & 12 from “American Government and Politics Today.”
April 26th: The class covers bureaucratic, legislative and
judicial elites. READ: Chapter 13 from “American Government and Politics
May 3rd: There are two types of policy: The first is domestic
policy. The second is foreign policy. READ: Chapter 14 from “American
Government and Politics Today.”
- Minor Paper Assignment #2 is due May 3rd!
May 10th: We begin our discussion about the foundation of
California politics. We will examine how California’s Constitution came into
being. The Golden State has experienced its share of slights pertaining to the
protection of civil liberties and rights. Our lecture will follow California’s
past to its present day political hodgepodge of competing interests. READ: The
California Section from “American Government and Politics Today.”
May 17th: Our discussion about California politics focuses on
those pressure groups residing in the “Golden State” and how they attempt to
influence public policy. We will also look at how political parties operate in
the state and some interesting elections held in the past. Also important is
how politics directs California’s budget process! READ: The California Section from “American Government
and Politics Today.”
May 24th: Students are to share their paper topics for their
Final Research Paper with the entire class.
FINAL EXAM! OUR EXAM IS SCHEDULED FROM 10:00AM TO 12:00AM!
- The Final Exam is on May 31st!