Class Information Sheet for Political Science 1 - American Government and Institutions
San Joaquin Delta College
5151 Pacific Avenue Stockton, CA 95207
Semester: Spring 2005
Instructor: Dr. Matt Wetstein
Office: Cunningham 417
Office Phone: 954-5736
Web Page: http://www.deltacollege.edu/emp/mwetstein
Office Hours by appointment and:
Monday, 8:00 - 9:00
Tuesday, 8:30 - 9:30
Wednesday, 1:00 - 2:00
Thursday, 8:30 - 9:30
Friday, 8:00 - 9:00
This is an introduction to the fundamentals of government and political processes at the national, state, and local levels. Included are studies of basic issues confronted by the American people and their governing institutions. The course fulfills the Social Science (Group A) requirements for the AA degree, and applies toward the completion of the requirement in U.S. History and California state and local government (UC, CSU).
Christine Barbour and Gerald Wright. 2003. Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics, 2nd edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Jeanne Marie Velickovic. 2004. Readings in American Government: Minority Perspectives. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.
David Lawrence. 2003. California: The Politics of Diversity, 3rd edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Purposes & Goals
General aims of the course include providing the student with:
1. a basic knowledge of the fundamental elements that comprise the American political system.
2. an understanding of how the major institutions in American society interact with the political system.
3. an awareness of the historical context which shapes and influences the political system and larger society.
4. a sufficient knowledge to enable the student to distinguish between the theory and reality of the political system.
5. an understanding and appreciation of the rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution.
6. a continuing interest in public affairs and in government with the hope that such interest will result in direct involvement and political participation.
Upon successful completion of the course the student will be able to:
1. distinguish between major and minor historical events and developments in shaping the American political systems.
2. analyze the relative merits of contemporary government policies.
3. evaluate the effectiveness of the various elements in the political system.
4. evaluate the relative success and effectiveness of American political institutions in fulfilling the goals of society.
5. analyze problems related to governing a pluralistic society.
6. examine the structure and functions of California state and local government.
7. write a minimum of 1500 words in addition to examinations.
The following responsibilities apply to all students:
1. Attend class sessions and take notes.
2. Read assigned chapters from the books by the dates identified by the instructor.
3. Write one paper (totaling about 1500 words) on a topic to be determined by the instructor.
4. Complete unannounced quizzes, two reading assignments, two unit examinations, and a final examination.
5. Attend class on examination dates.
6. Participate in class activities and discussions.
Method of Evaluation & Grading
Student grades will be calculated using the following criteria:
Quizzes & In-Class Activities
2 Reading Exercises
(90 to 100 = A; 80 to 89.9 = B; 70 to 79.9 = C; 60 to 69.9 = D; under 60 = F) Late papers will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade for each day that they are late (this includes weekend days). Thus, an "A" paper turned in three days late can earn a grade no higher than a "B." Copies of assignments that are handed in via electronic means must also be printed out by the student and turned in at the next class session in order to be graded.
The course will follow the following outline.
1. Foundations of American Government
A. Political theory & the roots of government
B. The U.S. Constitution
C. Federalism & intergovernmental relations
D. Basic institutions of the American system
2. The Justice System and Bill of Rights
A. The federal judicial system
B. The Supreme Court
C. First Amendment issues and cases
D. Criminal & procedural rights and cases
E. Equal protection and the 14th Amendment
3. Political Participation & Linkage Institutions
A. Interest groups
B. Political parties
C. The role of the media
D. Political participation
E. Elections & voting behavior
4. National Institutions of Government
B. The Presidency
C. The Bureaucracy
D. The impact of divided government
5. State & Local government
A. Direct democracy in California
B. California legislature
C. California executive branch
D. California judiciary
E. Local government
Social Science Division Classroom Expectations
It is expected that students in all Social Science Division classes will:
1. be attentive to, and participate in, all instructional activities.
2. be courteous to people with different perspectives and values.
3. be respectful of all persons.
4. be on time.
5. not leave early without instructor permission.
6. not disrupt class sessions by inappropriate behavior.
7. not cheat on assignments or examinations.
8. not engage in plagiarism.
9. not eat, drink, or smoke in classrooms.
10. make use of instructor office hours during designated times.
Withdrawal from the Course
Under college policies, students bear the responsibility of withdrawing from a class if they choose to stop attending class. Students who fail to drop the class and stop attending will receive an "F" for the final course grade.
Students should be aware that there are severe consequences for violations of academic integrity such as cheating or plagiarism (turning in work that is not your own, without proper credit to the original author). Students who are found to have cheated or committed plagiarism will face disciplinary action under the College's Student Conduct Code. As an instructor, I will penalize any student guilty of plagiarism with an "F" for that assignment (A ZERO GRADE), and a 10-point deduction on the final semester grade. Depending on the nature of the violation, I may also refer the instance of plagiarism to the Vice President of Student Affairs for possible suspension from the College. Thus, any student found guilty of plagiarism will receive NEGATIVE points toward their semester grade, and may face a suspension. A student's continued presence in the class throughout the semester will be considered as acknowledgment of this plagiarism policy.
Schedule of Topics & Readings
Week 1 -- Introduction: Citizenship & Politics
Jan. 18 -- READ: Chapter 1 in Barbour & Wright
Classes Begin January 18, 2005
Week 2 -- Structures & Forms of Democracy
Jan. 24 -- READ: Chapter 3 in Barbour & Wright
Week 3 -- The U.S. Constitution & Federalism
Jan. 31 -- READ: Chapter 4 in Barbour & Wright; Velickovic, pages 4-12
Week 4 -- The Role of Public Opinion
Feb. 7 -- READ: Chapter 11 in Barbour & Wright
President Lincoln's Birthday Observed, Friday, Feb. 11 -- no classes
Week 5 -- Interest Group Politics
Feb. 14 -- READ: Chapter 13 in Barbour & Wright; Velickovic, pages 161-173
Week 6 -- Citizen Politics -- Linkages to Government
Feb 21 -- No Readings Scheduled
President's Day Holiday, Monday February 21 -- no classes
TEST 1 -- Thursday, February 24 (TTH) and Friday, February 25 (MWF)
Week 7 -- Voting & Elections
Feb. 28 -- READ: Chapter 14 in Barbour & Wright; Velickovic, pages 126-139
Week 8 -- The Presidential Campaign
Mar. 7 -- READ: Velickovic, pages 66-75
Week 9 -- The Courts & Legal System
Mar. 14 -- READ: Chapter 10 in Barbour & Wright
Week 10 -- SPRING BREAK
Mar. 21 -- No classes Mar. 21-25
Week 11 -- Civil Liberties
Mar. 28 -- READ: Chapter 5 in Barbour & Wright
Cesar Chavez Holiday, Wednesday March 31 -- no classes
Week 12 -- Civil Liberties, Part 2
Apr. 4 -- READ: Velickovic, pages 96-97, 108-111
Week 13 -- Civil Rights & Equality
Apr. 11 -- READ: Chapter 6 in Barbour & Wright; Velickovic, pages 113-116
TEST 2 -- Thursday, April 14 (TTH) and Friday, April 15 (MWF)
Week 14 -- Congress
Apr. 18 -- READ: Chapter 7 in Barbour & Wright; Velickovic, pages 46-56
Week 15 -- The Presidency
Apr. 25 -- READ: Chapter 8 in Barbour & Wright
Week 16 -- California Politics
May 2 -- READ: Chapters 4, 5 & 6 in Lawrence
PAPER DUE, Monday May 2 (MWF), and Tuesday May 3 (TTH)
Week 17 -- California Politics continued
May 9 -- READ: Chapters 11, 12, & 13 in Lawrence
Week 18 -- California Politics continued
May 16 -- No readings scheduled
Week 19 -- FINAL EXAMS
May 23 -- Schedule of examinations listed below:
MWF 10:00 -- Final Exam -- Wednesday, May 25, 10:00 - 12:00
MWF 11:00 -- Final Exam -- Tuesday, May 24, 10:00 - 12:00
TTH 9:30 -- Final Exam -- Thursday, May 26, 10:00 - 12:00