Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

This course will embark students on a comprehensive exploration of the American government, delving into its intricate institutions and dynamic political processes. Hence, the course is designed to provide students with profound insights into the underlying principles that drive the remarkable tapestry of American political structures and practices. Our primary objective is to dissect political institutions and practices, recognizing them as ingenious yet imperfect solutions to the challenges faced by communities requiring collective action. Throughout this course, we will meticulously examine the array of political institutions and practices that have emerged as responses to the complexities of collective decision-making. By studying recurrent barriers to collective action across various contexts, we will illuminate the diverse arsenal of strategies that American politicians have crafted to surmount these challenges. Effective political communities fortify their ability to act collectively and streamline the associated costs by crafting purpose-fit institutions. These institutional frameworks encompass a spectrum of majority and plurality rules and procedures, transforming individual votes into meaningful representation. They empower the delegation of authority to appointed agents while granting certain institutional actors the ability to propose courses of action, counterbalanced by others vested with the power to veto propositions. A central theme will be the strategic nuances that underscore political engagement throughout the course; this includes a deep dive into the endeavors of present-day officeholders as they mold policies, allowing students to perceive existing institutions as the outcomes of political clashes and the arenas wherein these conflicts find resolution. By the end, students will gain a holistic understanding of the intricate interplay between political dynamics and the establishments they give rise to.

Student Outcomes

The following individual goals will be pursued throughout the semester. 1) Comprehensive Understanding of American Government Dynamics. Students will develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of the intricate institutions, processes, and principles that shape the American government. This goal involves delving into the historical evolution, key actors, and fundamental concepts that underpin the American political system. 2) Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills. Students will cultivate analytical and critical thinking skills through the exploration of various political challenges, decision-making processes, and strategic maneuvers. They will learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different political institutions and practices, as well as analyze the underlying motivations and implications of political actions. 3) Application of Political Concepts to Current Issues. Students will be able to apply the theoretical knowledge gained throughout the course to contemporary political issues and scenarios. They will develop the ability to critically analyze current political events, policies, and debates within the framework of the historical and institutional context provided by the course. During the semester and by the end of the semester, students must be able to: 1) Quiz Performance. Students’ understanding of the course material will be assessed through multiple-choice quizzes. By the end of the semester, students should be able to accurately answer questions that require knowledge of key concepts, historical developments, and institutional frameworks within the American government. 2) In-Class Participation and Discussion. Through active participation in class discussions centered around thought-provoking questions, students will demonstrate their ability to engage critically with the material. By the end of the semester, students should be able to articulate informed perspectives, engage in constructive debates, and analyze complex political scenarios. 3) Video Activity Proficiency. Students will engage in video activities designed to simulate real-world political scenarios. These activities could involve analyzing policy dilemmas, proposing solutions, and defending their decisions. By the end of the semester, students should be able to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical situations, showcasing their understanding of strategic political engagement and decision-making.