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Intro to American Political Thought and Culture

POL 215W

Intro to American Political Thought and Culture

POL 215W

Course Description

Prerequisite: READING LEVEL 3; or WRITING LEVEL 3; or concurrent-enrollment in WRT 098. Introduces concepts central to American political thought, philosophy, and culture. Explores topics relevant to current political events. (This course satisfies the American Government/Foundational Civics graduation requirement in all curricula) (45-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Practice the intellectual and participatory skills identified with effective citizenship.

Objectives:

  • Define and explain the terms "liberal", "conservative", "neo-liberal", and "neo-conservative".
  • Outline and explain the history of voting rights in the United States.
  • Outline and explain the history of the development of political parties in the United States.
  • Define the term "coalition" and outline the modern Republican and Democratic party coalitions.
  • Describe the Democratic and Republican party organizations.
  • Describe and explain the primary election system in the United States.
  • Outline and explain modern election campaign strategies for both the primary and general elections.
  • Define and outline the "heirarchy of political involvement" and the variables associated with an individual's political participation.
  • Identify, describe, explain, and evaluate important public issues.

Assess American democracy critically, using appropriate models to identify problems and possible changes using informal and formal writing.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental assumptions underlying democratic theory.
  • Contrast these assumptions with the philosophical basis for autocracy and oligarchy.
  • Explain the importance of accountability in representative democracy.
  • Evaluate the roles and responsibilities of citizenship in democratic societies.
  • Contrast the civic tradition of the United States with those of other nations' autocracies, oligarchies, and democracies, in terms of: 1) use of constitutions or basic laws; 2) geographical division of power; 3) the nature of executive authority; 4) legislatures and assemblies; 5) the role assigned to courts of law; 6) the role of political parties and interest groups; 7) the manner in which citizens participate in civic affairs.
  • Recognize the role of core values in the workings of a civil society.
  • Synthesize all of the above into a comprehensive assessment of American democracy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to at least consider the possibility of alternative structures and models for collective decision-making in society.

Relate American history, culture, and political institutions to our civic culture using informal and formal writing.

Objectives:

  • Assess how religious freedom, history of slavery, economic resources, relative geographic isolation, the frontier, immigration, market economy, and cultural values have influenced the development of American political culture.
  • Use all of the above to define the shared political and civic beliefs and values that define an American citizen.
  • Use the American experience to analyze the tension between core values and beliefs and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties for a diverse population.

Analyze how individuals and groups influence American political institutions using informal and formal writing.

Objectives:

  • Define and analyze polyarchiacal democracy, interest group, party systems, political party, democratic and nondemocratic parties.
  • Compare and contrast interest groups and political parties in the United States.
  • Evaluate the merits and defects of interest groups and parties in the United States.
  • Describe and assess the role of public opinion in the United States.
  • Critique the role and influence of the mass media in the United States.

Relate the structure of American political institutions to policies produced by those institutions using formal and informal writing.

Objectives:

  • Describe and scrutinize the presidential roles of foreign-policy maker; commander-in-chief of the armed forces; legislative leader; political party leader; and molder of public opinion.
  • Summarize the House of Representatives and the Senate leadership configurations and the roles they play within the organization.
  • Describe the House and the Senate operating procedures, including the structures and rules that affect them.
  • Describe the roles and functions of members of Congress.
  • Outline the function of the state and federal court systems.
  • Define and analyze civil, criminal, original, and appellate jurisdictions.
  • Summarize and analyze the restraintist and activist philosophies utilized as a judicial philosophy in the United States.
  • Define and explain the concept of judicial review.