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POL 215, MW, 2:30-3:45, Mon.-ALC #6, Wed.-LH #27
Dr. Jim L. Riley  Regis University

Professor of Politics

Fall, 2009

Office Hours
 Monday & Wednesday:   10:30 - 2:00
Tuesday &Thursday:  3:00 -4:00
Friday:  By Appointment  
Office: Carroll Hall 215
 Office Phone: (303) 458-4974

e-mail:   jriley@regis.edu
web page -- http://academic.regis.edu/jriley

TEXT: The Challenge of DemocracyBrief (7th ed., Janda, Berry, Goldman, Hula) (required);

                               (Go to Challenge for text web site.)

The first sentence in the Regis Mission Statement reads:  "Regis University educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society."  Understanding the nature of politics in its broadest sense is crucial to this goal.  This course seeks to expand the political knowledge of students such that each of them is better able to become capable and responsible leaders in our society that is so deeply penetrated by things political.

1. USE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SYLLABUS: This syllabus is a most important guide for you in understanding what it is this course is designed to accomplish and how it is organized to achieve its stated goals. Moreover, specific ground rules, obligations, and responsibilities are described below.

By a careful reading of the syllabus, you will obtain a clear idea of what we will be doing in this class throughout the semester. It serve as a series of guideposts enabling us to maintain some clear focus on the subject at hand.

The dates and deadlines contained below will be adhered to, barring unforeseen exigencies requiring modification. Daily assignments will not be given in class inasmuch as a complete semester's assignments is included at the end of this syllabus. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with each day's assignment and to complete it prior to classtime.

2. COURSE PURPOSE: As the title of the course indicates, the focus of this class shall be upon the subject of United States national politics. Students shall be exposed to a variety of matters pertaining to this subject, including, but not necessarily limited to: underlying American political values, the U.S. Constitution, political parties, interest groups, public policy, governmental institutions and the role of mass media.

At semester's end, it is to be expected that those students who completed the course successfully will have developed not only an enhanced understanding of the subject of United States politics but will also be imbued with a desire to know more about this most important American phenomenon.

3. COURSE OBJECTIVE: At the end of this course students will have developed their skills of political analysis, their levels of information, language capabilities, and political knowledge, generally to be able to observe events and institutions in the American political arena with comprehension and understanding.

More specifically, it is to be expected that the students will become aware of their basic, albeit obscured, value orientation underlying their existing political leanings. One means of measuring the degree to which these objectives have been reached will be student performance on four (4) different examinations during the semester. The second primary measure will be the quality of work done in the out-of-class assignment described below.

4. NOTE TAKING: In order to achieve a desirable grade in this class (presumably reflecting one's level of achievement), it is necessary to take "good" notes of three types: class notes, text notes, and research notes. These should be in the form of full and complete sentences, organized in outline form (major and minor headings being present).

Class notes should summarize material presented in class so that you may later recall what was put before you there. Text notes should condense and summarize the material given to you by the author. Research notes serve the purpose of recording that which you have gathered through your out-of-class research.

Generally, the purpose of notes is to store, organize, and make information more readily available so that it can eventually become knowledge. It is utilitarian in nature, that is to say, it is designed to serve some larger purpose. If you find after a few meetings that your notes are not very accurate or helpful in organizing and understanding the material, meet with the instructor at your first opportunity.

Most if not all of the class discussion outlines will be available on my web page.  These notes will normally include hypertext links to sites relevant to the point of discussion.  You are urged to utilize these notes to further enhance your understanding of the items that are discussed in class.

One final point, you should review notes taken at the previous meeting before going to class on any given day. This five or ten minute review will prove most valuable in various ways.

5. STUDENT-PROFESSOR CONFERENCES: You are invited and encouraged to come by my office whenever you would like. Although I can be found frequently in my office at times other than during regularly scheduled office hours, those scheduled hours are given above. Occasionally, I may be called out of the office during scheduled office hours, but for the most part I will be there when indicated.

Certainly we should meet if any problems develop with regard to your participation in the course, but this should not be the only reason for getting together. Feel free to drop by for a visit for any reason. If my office hours are not convenient, arrangements can easily be made to meet at another time.

6. GRADING POLICY: I shall make every effort to adhere faithfully to the grading standards set forth in the Regis University Bulletin while relying upon my professional judgment to make the necessary applications of these standards. Grades will be determined by student performance, both in and out of class as set forth in the section on examinations and out-of-class papers. "Borderline" grades will be decided using class participation as the deciding factor.

7. EXAMINATIONS: There will be four multiple choice (4) examinations during the semester including the final examination. Each examination will count for 25% of the course grade as will the out-of-class project described below. The lowest score on the 4 exams will be "thrown out" and not computed as part of the semester grade. The final examination grade may not be "thrown out" unless you have an "A" or "B" average at the end of the course and have taken each of the first three examinations.  Except in the case of verified illness, valid university obligation, or personal emergency at the time of the administration of the final examination, there will absolutely be no make-up exams. It is clearly in your best interest to "skip" no test.

It will be helpful if you read and learn these hints for taking multiple-choice examinations.

You may bring to class on each examination day five 3" x 5" note cards on which any information may have been written but not  copied.   Practice test questions may be found at the text web site (see below). The remaining portion of the grade will be determined by the out-of-class paper described below.

As a supplement to a careful reading of the text and class notes, the publishers of your text have an excellent web site that includes synopses of each chapter, valuable web links and ACE practice tests (from which some will be drawn for use on examinations in this class).  In addition there are chapter outlines that may be very helpful.  I strongly urge you to access this site frequently

8. CLASS ATTENDANCE AND DECORUM POLICIES: Three unexcused absences are permitted without penalty. "Cuts" beyond this will result in the course grade being lowered by 0.2 points for each day missed beyond the allowable three "cuts".   All absences are considered "cuts" unless explicitly excused.  

Once roll is taken students entering the class late will be counted as absent for that day unless explicit approval granted on that day of the late arrival. This policy is instituted to discourage chronic tardiness which has become increasingly prevalent in recent semesters. Moreover, students are expected to remain in the classroom for the entire duration of the class. If there is a need to leave prior to the end of the class period please inform me prior to the beginning of the class.

As a matter of courtesy I request that no hats be worn in class nor any food be consumed.  Bringing a drink to class is acceptable although there is always the risk of a spill.  Also, please power down all cell phones or other communication devices.

9. COMPUTER USE IN CLASS:  Any student wishing to use a computer in class needs to speak with me regarding this request.  It is required that in-class utilization of the computer will be limited exclusively to class related matters:   taking notes or accessing material related to subjects under scrutiny in class.   Utilization of the computer for communication purposes or accessing of material unrelated to the class is prohibited.

10. STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES: Each member of the class is expected to read the assigned material prior to class time. A reading of the material must be accompanied by the taking of written notes on what has been read. These text notes will be supplemented with notes taken in class. Thus, it is necessary that students attend class regularly (see the policy stated above regarding class absences).

You should also keep abreast of political events in the United States and the rest of the world. This means reading a newspaper daily, watching the news on TV (especially the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS TV), listening to NPR (90.1 on the FM radio dial) and reading a weekly news magazine such as Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

Finally, in addition to READING, TAKING NOTES, AND ATTENDING CLASS, students are expected to study and think about the material to which they are exposed and to be prepared to write on and discuss the subject examined.

11. OUT OF CLASS ASSIGNMENT:   Each member of the class is required to read out-of-class material  totaling no less than 10 pages. On September 23 each student must submit in writing or by e-mail a full bibliographical citation (including author, title of article, name of publication, inclusive pages, volume number, and date of publication) of two items chosen for reading.  I will return the two bibliographical citations indicating which, if either, is to be used for completion of the out-of-class assignment.

On reserve in the Dayton Memorial Library are the following readings: 

American Government: Readings and Cases

 Woll, Peter


 The American Polity Reader

 Serow, Ann G.


 The American Polity Reader

 Serow, Ann G.


 Behind the Scenes in American Government

 Woll, Peter


 The Challenge of Democracy: Government in America

 Janda, Kenneth [et al]


 The Enduring Debate: Classic and Contemporary Readings in American Politics

 Canon, David T.


 A History of American Political Thought

 Beitzinger, A.J.


 Public Opinion DVD

 (no author)


You may also find the material on the DML Website.  Many (but not all) of the articles in these publications are appropriate for the out-of-class assignment.  No reading material on reserve at DML of less than 10 pages is acceptable. 

You may also use the following article that I have written:   Introduction to Political Ideologies along with Moderate Political IdeologiesIf you choose this you must read the entire article consisting of material under both headings.

On November 9 a separate summary and analysis of  the chosen reading is due.  The paper must be divided into two parts: one under the heading of "summary" and the other under the heading of "analysis." This whole submission should be no less than 1000 words in length (5 to 7 pages), typewritten or computer printed and double spaced. A full bibliographical citation of each piece read shall precede the summary and analysis   A copy of the material read must be attached to the summary and analysis.  The summary should distill out the message of the writer and present it in a concise form and contain no opinions regarding the article.  The analysis portion of the review should evaluate and critique the reading  indicating thoughtful consideration of the writer's message. This paper will count for one-fourth of the course grade. This assignment is required and the grade may not be dropped.  Failure to complete this project will result in a grade of F for the course regardless of examination grades.

If you would like to have the opportunity to improve your paper and have it re-graded, you may submit it on October 14   It will be returned with a grade.   You may then accept that grade (and be finished with the project) or resubmit a revised (and presumably improved) version of the assignment on November 9.  The paper will then be re-graded with the second grade substituting for the initial one.  All resubmissions must be accompanied by the original paper, along with a copy of the material read. This resubmission is an option and not a requirement but is available only to those who meet the October 14   deadline.  Late papers will be penalized as will papers with technical errors of grammar, diction, form, superficial and/or careless summaries and analyses.

It should be noted that the out-of-class paper will be graded blindly. Each student will attach his/her student identification number to the papers - No Names. This will eliminate any personal factors from the grading process.

In order to avoid a very troublesome problem of "lost" data, I urge you to back up your out-of-class paper on a device separate from your computer.  Moreover, it will behoove you to finish your paper well before the due date.  This will provide opportunity for review, refinement and improvement. 

Regis College has an office that can be of great help to you in the completion of this project.  The Regis Writing Center is a free resource for all Regis College undergraduates. At the Writing Center, a trained undergraduate writing consultant will work individually with you on anything you're writing (in or out of class), at any point in your writing process, from brainstorming to organizing to polishing. You will get immediate and personal feedback about your writing as well as answers to your questions. Appointments are recommended. Drop by the Writing Center in Loyola 1 or call (303) 458-4039.

12. PROCEDURAL QUALITY REQUIREMENT: As a general rule misspellings, sloppy erasures, sentence fragments, technical errors (i.e., typographical mistakes, etc.) will be heavily penalized. 

13. CONTENT QUALITY REQUIREMENT: The out-of-class project must contain information that indicates thoughtful consideration of the subject under examination. Well organized structure, focused discussion, clarity of message and reasoned evaluations will all enhance the paper's value.

14. USE OF THE INTERNET: You are encouraged to use the Internet and especially  to locate and access material suitable for further exploration of topics relevant to this class. A useful place to start is my web-page. It contains numerous links to useful web sites of a political nature.  I also encourage you to locate any new web sites that other students of politics might fine helpful and interesting. When appropriate I will add them to my web page with proper acknowledgment.

15. USE OF TEXT REFERENCES AND APPENDICES The references provided in the end notes in the appendices of the text are also most helpful in the selection of an article for the final paper. The. U.S. Constitution (also in text Appendix) must be read in conjunction with specific topics studied. Specific class assignments in the appendices are given below.

16. USE OF E-MAIL:   Each student must have acquired a functioning e-mail account no later than the first week of the semester.  I will collect e-mail addresses on the second day of class.  This will enable me to build a group account to which I will send various important messages during the semester.  Students are expected to check e-mail daily.

Because the Internet has become such a valuable tool for gathering information and enhancing communication, we will be making extensive use of this during the semester.  Periodically I will assign reading material to be gleaned from the "net."  These assignments will be given by e-mail.

17.  ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  It is expected that students will act honorably in all activities related to this course and will refrain from any form of academic and professional dishonesty or deception in the classroom, clinical, and other learning settings. These behaviors include cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, falsification of records, and aiding and/or abetting dishonesty. 

The Dean of the College has asked that the following language be added to course syllabi:

"Consistent with the College's Academic Integrity Policy, I will report all violations of this course's academic integrity policy to the Dean's office. Students who have committed multiple instances of academic dishonesty can be subject to institutional penalties like probation, suspension, or expulsion, in addition to the penalties for this course. The Academic Integrity policy is described in the Bulletin; detailed information about the policy and the appeals process can be found in the Dean's office."

18.    ACCOMMODATION FOR DISABILITIES  For information regarding Regis disability services policies, visit the web site of the Office of Disability Services.

19.  COURSE WITHDRAWAL POLICY:  Students are expected to know and observe the published deadlines for (a) dropping the course and (b) withdrawing from the course. These deadlines are published on the University's Academic Calendar, which is available in the Bulletin, the course schedule and is in the Dean's Office. THESE DEADLINES ARE NOT FLEXIBLE.

20.  Important Dates and Deadlines:

Semester Schedule


Highlighted Links are Readings Assignments

8/24 Course Introduction & Freedom, Order and Equality

8/26 & 8/31  Dilemmas of the American Republic:  Majoritarian or Pluralist System (Ch. 1),  Political Ideologies & IDEAlog

9/2 & 9/9 & 9/14 The U.S. Constitution (Ch. 2; Declaration of Independence (text Appendix); The Articles of  ConfederationPreamble to the Constitution)

9/16 Federalism (Ch. 3, Federalist #51)

9/21 Examination #1

9/23 Public Opinion, Political Socialization and The Media (Ch. 4)  

9/28 Political Participation (Ch. 5)           

10/05  Political Parties, Nominations, Elections and  Campaigns  (Ch. 6)

10/7 Examination #2

10/14 Interest Groups (Ch. 7; Federalist #10)

10/19 & 10/21 Congress (Ch. 8)

10/26 & 10/28 President (Ch. 9)

11/2 Examination #3

11/4 & 11/9  Courts (Ch. 11)

11/11 & 11/16 Civil Liberties (Ch. 12)

11/18 & 11/23 Civil Rights & Civil Duties  (Ch. 13)

11/30 & 12/2  Economic Policy and Domestic Policy (Ch. 14)  

   Examination #4:   1:15-3:15, Wednesday, 12/9