United States National Politics

PSC 1101, Sec. 200, TuTh, 5:00 - 6:15, Eaton Humanities Bldg. 250
Dr. Jim L. Riley
Fall, 2003

Office - Ketchum Hall,  Room 34
Office Hours

(NOTE:  Office Hours will be held after class in EHB at a room to be announced)
Tuesday:  3:45 - 4:45;  6:15-7:15
Thursday:  3:45 - 4:45
e-mail:   jriley@regis.edu
web page -- http://academic.regis.edu/jriley

TEXT: The Challenge of DemocracyBrief (5th ed., Janda, Berry, Goldman, Hula) (required)

               Study Guide for Challenge of Democracy (5th ed., Butler & Hula (optional)

                (Go to Challenge for text web site.)

American Flag

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 during the designated office hours. If my office hours are not convenient, arrangements can easily be made to have a phone conference at another time or possibly to meet elsewhere.

6. GRADING POLICY: I shall make every effort to adhere faithfully to the grading standards set forth in the University of Colorado Bulletin. Grades will be determined by student performance as set forth in the section on examinations. 

7. EXAMINATIONS: There will be four multiple choice (4) examinations during the semester including the final examination. Each examination will count for 1/3 of the course grade.  The lowest score on the 4 exams will be "thrown out" and not computed as part of the semester grade. There will absolutely be no make-up exams. It is clearly in your best interest to "skip" no test.

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 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:   Regular class attendance is required.  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.  Moreover, missing class will damage your ability to do well on the examinations.

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 food not be consumed in class.  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 or electronic devices.

9. 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 (1340 on the AM 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.

10. USE OF THE INTERNET: You are encouraged to use the Internet and especially the World Wide Web (WWW) 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.

11. USE OF TEXT REFERENCES AND APPENDICES The references provided in the end notes are also most helpful in the selection of an article for the final paper. The. U.S. Constitution at (A-4) must be read in conjunction with specific topics studied. Specific class assignments in the appendices are given below.

12. USE OF THE INTERNET AND E-MAIL:   Each student must have acquired a functioning e-mail account no later than the first week of the semester.  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.

13.  FIGURES AND GRAPHS:  On the internet you may find various figures and graphs that demonstrative various aspects of points made in your text.  To access these graphs go to Figures and Graphs.   The user name is user and the password is democracy.

Semester Schedule


8/28    Course Introduction & Freedom, Order and Equality

9/2 & 9/4     Dilemmas of Democracy (Ch. 1),  Political Ideologies

9/9 & 9/11  The U.S. Constitution (Ch. 2; Declaration of Independence A-1; The Articles of  ConfederationPreamble to the Constitution)

9/16 & 9/18 Federalism (Ch. 3, Federalist #51)

9/23   Examination #1   

(test results)

9/25 & 9/30 Public Opinion, Political Socialization and The Media (Ch. 4)  

     Political Participation (Ch. 5) 

(NOTE:  Chapter 5 is to be read for Exam #2 - It may not be covered in class)       

10/7 & 10/9       Political Parties, Nominations, Elections and  Campaigns  (Ch. 6)

10/14 Examination #2

(test results)

10/16 & 10/21 Interest Groups (Ch. 7; Federalist #10)

10/23 & 10/28    Congress (Ch. 8)

10/30 & 11/4     President (Ch. 9)

11/6 Examination #3

(test results)

11/11 & 11/13  Courts (Ch. 11)

11/18 & 11/20  Civil Liberties (Ch. 12)

11/25 & 12/2   Civil Rights & Civil Duties  (Ch. 13)

12/4 & 12/9 & 12/11 Economic Policy and Domestic Policy (Ch. 14)  

Final Examination:  12/16 Tuesday, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.