American Politics and Government: PLSI 101

American Politics and Government: PLSI 101
Department of Political Science
California State University, Bakersfield
Winter 2008
Instructor: Gitika Commuri
Class: MWF: 8.00 to 9.25a.m.
Location: BDC 153
Contact Information: Office: BDC 238
Phone number: 654-6080
Office Hours: M/W: 9.30 to 12.00.
Also by appointment.
Course Description: This course aims to provide students with information regarding the
American political system and institutions. The purpose is not only to identify and discuss the key
political structures and institutions but also to examine why they function the way they do. The
course is structured along the following questions-How does the American political system work?
What are the major forces shaping political life? How are policies formed? What values shape
American politics? What is the role of media in shaping public opinion? Who gets what, when,
how and why?
Objectives of the Course:
 Develop an understanding of American political system, institutions and values.
 To develop analytical and critical thinking skills.
Course Requirements:
10% - Participation
25% - Quizzes
30% - Midterm Exam
30% - Midterm Exam
35% - Final Exam
Required Text: We the People: An Introduction To American Politics, Benjamin Ginsberg,
Theodore Lowi and Margaret Weir, Norton, 2007.
Exams: There will be two midterm exams held on January 28 and February 18. The exams will
cover materials from the assigned readings, lectures and class discussion. The final exam will be
held on March 12 and will be a cumulative exam with greater weight placed on the material
covered in the second half of the course. There will be no make up exams unless there is a
documented emergency. Please note that you will not be allowed to take the exam if you arrive
5 minutes after the exam has begun.
Quizzes: The quizzes are worth 12.5 points each. These will be held on January 14 and
February 29.
Class Attendance and Discussion: Students are expected to have read the assigned texts prior to
the class and to participate actively in class discussions. Participation grade is based on regular
interaction and participation in class.
Students with Disabilities: Students should notify the instructor of any special requirements at
the earliest so that alternate arrangements can be made.
Academic Honesty: All CSUB students are expected to maintain high standards of academic
integrity. Please refer to the CSUB catalogue for the University policy in this regard. Severe
penalties apply for cheating, plagiarism and other instances of academic dishonesty.
Cell Phones and Pagers: Please turn of these devices in class.
Changes to the Syllabus: The instructor may change items in this syllabus. Students will be
kept informed of any such changes.
Week 1: January 2: Introduction
January 4: Chapter 1: American Political Culture
Week 2: January 7: Chapter 2: The Founding and the Constitution
January 9: Chapter 2
January 11: Chapter 3: Federalism
Week 3: January 14: Chapter 3: Quiz 1
January 16: Chapter 4: Civil Liberties
January 18: Chapter 4
Week 4: January 21: Holiday
January 23: Chapter 5: Civil Rights
January 25: Chapter 5
Week 5: January 28: Midterm Exam
January 30: Chapters 6 and 7: Public Opinion and Media
February 1: Chapters 6 and 7
Week 6: February 4: Chapter 8: Political Participation and Voting
February 6: Chapter 9 and 10: Political Parties: Campaigns and Elections:
February 8: Chapter 9 and 10
Week 7: February 11: Chapter 11: Groups and Interests
February 13: Chapter 11:
February 15: Chapter 12: Congress
Week 8: February 18: Midterm Exam
February 20: Chapter 12
February 22: Chapter 13: The Presidency
Week 9: February 25: Chapter 13
February 27: Chapter 15: The Federal Courts
February 29: Chapter 15: Quiz 2
Week 10: March 3: Chapter 18: Foreign Policy and Democracy
March 5: Chapter 18
March 7: Chapter 18
Week 11: March 10: Last class/Review
March 12: Final Exam: 8.00 – 10.30 a.m.