American Politics - HonorsPOL 103HW
Prerequisite: READING LEVEL 4 and WRITING LEVEL 4 or permission of the Honors Office. Introduces the development and maintenance of the U.S. system of government. Surveys the nature of American political institutions, behavior, ideas and their structure. Explores core beliefs and their affect on government participation. Explores the role of citizens in a diverse democracy. Credit may be earned in any POL 103 course, any POL 104 course, or any POL 111 course but not in more than one. (This course satisfies the American Politics graduation requirement in all curricula.) (45-0)
Outcomes and Objectives
Define the elements of American political culture and identify the fundamental principles which make up the American political system.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of American government including majority rule and minority rights, universal suffrage, liberty, republicanism, constitutionalism, and equality.
- Interpret what government is, what it does, and how it can be influenced by citizens.
- Define what power and authority are, and how they are critical in any government.
- Describe what politics are, its motivating effects in the system and why it is vital in every society to study politics.
- Define why people disagree in the U.S. over the proper size, shape, and scope of the government.
- Explain the basis of the need of American government to have the consent of its citizens.
- Compare and contrast a democratic system with other forms of government in the world.
- Evaluate the conditions of contemporary American democracy and the citizen's responsibilities to maintain it.
Demonstrate an understanding of the history, structure and powers of the Constitution
- Understand the historical events of American history and the political thought which led up to the American Revolution.
- Critique the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the need for a new government.
- Detail the events and results of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
- Discuss the debate and ratification of the Constitution
- Analyze the main components of the Constitution and discuss its structure.
- Detail the process by which the Constitution can be amended and adapted to conform to societal changes.
- Explain the basic principles of the Constitution such as checks and balances, separation of powers, limited government, federalism, national supremacy and states rights.
- Compare and contrast between unitary, confederation and federal system in the U.S.
- Describe the nature of federalism as it relates to the relationship between the national, state, and local governments and the reasons for a federal system in the U.S.
Access the importance of civil liberties and civil rights and the need for them in a democracy.
- Explain the importance of the Bill of Rights and why they did not cover all citizens.
- Analyze the obligations, restrictions and guarantees placed on the government through civil liberties and civil rights.
- Interpret the 14th Amendment and how it allowed for the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.
- Evaluate court cases which have changed the interpretation of the Constitution.
- Analyze the struggle of African Americans, women and other minorities to achieve Civil Rights.
- Demonstrate how America will become an increasingly diverse nation in the future and the necessity for all to be protected by civil rights and civil liberties.
- Debate under which conditions a government can infringe on civil rights and civil liberties.
Analyze how individuals and groups participate in the political process, are influenced by and linked to political institutions, and develop values of effective citizenship.
- Define and analyze the roles following in the political process: interest groups, political parties, political participation, and mass media.
- Describe how and why interest groups are formed.
- List the methods used by interest groups and political parties to achieve their goals.
- Describe the history, nature, and functions of political parties.
- Discuss the differences between the major political parties in terns of their platforms, ideological positions and how Democrats and Republicans are different.
- Interpret how ideology relates to political party positions and is then translated into public policy.
- Discuss the history, role, and affects of minor parties on the political system.
- Describe and assess the role of public opinion, the structure and use of public opinion polls and the effects of polling data.
- Analyze the function, roles, and influence of the mass media in the U.S.
- Analyze the process of political socialization and how people form their political beliefs.
- Detail the various methods of political participation, both collective and individual participation.
- Define the factors which affect whether people vote and how they vote.
Describe the structure of American political institutions and their effect on the political process, citizens, and policies.
- Describe the structure of the presidency and the roles of the presidency including commander-in-chief, chief diplomat, chief executive, head of state, party leader, and chief legislator.
- Analyze the presidential nomination process, presidential campaign, and election process including the role of the Electoral College.
- Outline the structure, functions, and procedures of Congress and how its members are elected.
- Compare and contrast the Senate and House of Representatives in terms of their roles, leadership, organization, powers, and rules by which they are governed.
- Analyze the Committee structure in Congress and the process by which a bill becomes law.
- Define the concept of Judicial review.
- Describe the structure and functions of the Federal Court system.
- Define the nomination of Supreme Court judges and organization and powers of the Supreme Court.
- Describe the process by which the Supreme Court hears, argues, and rules on cases.
- Discuss the differences between judicial activism and judicial restraint.
- Synthesize how the three branches interact to affect public policy.
Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of civic involvement in a democratic society.
- Identify and describe the responsibilities, values and benefits of political participation and practicing good citizenship in a democracy.
- Discuss the importance of critical thinking to assess how individuals and groups can impact their society and achieve common goals.
- Analyze the need to resolve conflicts peacefully, tolerate diverse opinions, and demonstrate respect for the dignity of all citizens.
- Discuss the importance of taking responsibility for ones own actions and the necessity to work cooperatively with others.
- Analyze the critical need for citizens to be aware of political issues which impact their lives and the ability to affect the political process to affect change.
- Define the difference between acting on a local level and thinking on a global level.
Write effectively for a specific audience and purpose
- Analyze course content in written form.
- Explain the subject matter in a coherent writing style.
- Analyze and evaluate theories, positions, viewpoints, and ideas.
- Distinguish strong from weak arguments.
- Evaluate the credibility of sources of information
Practice intellectual curiosity and apply it in independent ways to deepen understanding of course material.
- Complete at least one significant project, either individually or as a group at the instructor's discretion, and work with the instructor to assure that the project demonstrates intellectual curiosity and academic rigor.
- Actively engage with peers in conversations, seminars, or in other formats at the instructor's discretion to enhance the depth of knowledge of the relevant material.