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GOVT 2302.

Political Institutions in the U.S. and Texas
Professor Curt Childress
Term Spring 2009
Class Time MW 2:30PM - 3:45PM in SOM 2.107

Professor’s Contact Information

Office Phone 972-883-6416
Other Phone None
Office Location GR 3.314
Email Address
Office Hours MW 4:15 PM-5:15PM and by appointment
I strongly discourage students from using eLearning email or the phone to
Other Information contact me. Contacting me via my UTD Email is preferred to other forms
of communication.

General Course Information

Pre-requisites, Co-
requisites, & other None
This course introduces the student to the primary institutions of the
United States and Texas governments. We will study the historical
Course Description influences shaping the Constitution and governmental institutions. We
will also study how individual and group participation shape government
and government institutions.
1. Define the constitutional foundations of our government.
2. Identify the major institutional characteristics of Federal and State
governmental institutions
Learning Outcomes
3. Explain the role of collective action in politics and government.
4. Describe how individual and group participation influences
government institutions
Kernall, Samuel, Gary C. Jacobson, and Thad Kousser. (2009) The Logic
of American Politics. 4th ed. Washington D.C.: CQ Press. (Hereafter:

Canon, David T., John J. Coleman, and Kenneth R. Mayer, eds. (2008)
The Enduring Debate. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Required Texts & (Hereafter: TED)
Texas Politics Multimedia Online Textbook:
(Hereafter: TPOT)

Other brief readings will be assigned by the instructor during the

Suggested Texts, Collier, Ken & Steven Galatas & Julie Harrelson-Stephens. (2008) Lone
Readings, & Star Politics: Tradition and Transformation in Texas. 1st ed. Washington
Materials D.C: CQ Press.
Recommended articles and books might be suggested during class
lectures for students who wish to read on a particular topic in more

Assignments & Academic Calendar

August 24 Introduction to the Course
Intro to Collective Action; Democracy and American Political Traditions
Quiz 1
August 26 and 31
August 26th Readings: TLOP Ch 1 & TED Ch 1 (1); August 31st Readings: TED
Ch 1(2,3)
The United States and Texas Constitution
September 2nd Readings: TLOP Ch 2, TPOT
September 2 and 9
(; September 9th Readings: Article
on ELearning
Intro to Political Participation
Quiz 2
September 14 and 16
September 14th Readings: TLOP Ch 11; September 16th Readings: TED Ch 10
(47, 48, 49)
Interest Groups and Political Parties; Review
September 21 and 23 September 21 Readings: TLOP Ch 13; September 23rd Readings: TLOP Ch 14,
Federalist 10
First Exam and American Political Life
September 28 and 30
September 30th Readings: TED Ch 11 (56, 57)
US Congress and Texas State Legislature
October 5 and 7 Quiz 3
October 5th Readings: TLOP Ch 6; October 7th Readings: TED Ch 5 (21, 22)
Texas State Legislature and the Presidency
October 12 and 14 October 12th Readings: TPOT (
; October 14th Readings: TLOP Ch 7
United States Presidency and Texas Governor
Quiz 4
October 19 and 21
October 19th Readings: TED Ch 6 (27, 28); October 21th Readings: TPOT
October 26 and 28 Review and Second Exam
Simulation Week
November 2 and 4
November 2nd and 4th Readings: TBA
The Bureaucracy
November 9th Readings: TLOP Ch 8, TPOT
November 9 and 11
(; November 11thReadings: TED
Ch 7 (31, 32)
Federalism & Federal Judiciary
Quiz 5
November 16 and 18
November 16th Readings: TLOP Ch 6, TED Ch 3(13); November 18th Readings:
Federal & Texas Judiciary
November 23 and 25 November 23rd Readings: TED Ch 8 (37, 39, 40); November 25th Readings:
Local Government and Review
November 30 and
Quiz 6
December 3
November 30th Readings: TBA
December 7th Third Exam
Exam Dates September 28, October 28, & December 7 at 2:30PM
*Reading assignments are due on date listed on the syllabus
Course Policies

1. Participation—Classroom attendance is necessary to succeed in

this course and I want you to have classroom success. While you
will receive no formal “attendance grade,” I will regularly note
attendance and incorporate it into a general participation grade. I
will reward your classroom attendance and participation.

2. Assignments—Short assignments will be assigned occasionally

in class. These assignments will help you relate classroom learning
with the practical political environment. An example of a short
assignment would be to analyze current political events based on the
tools developed in class.

3. Quizzes—Short take-home quizzes will be given out in class

Each quiz will be announced the class day before the quiz is given,
and the instructor will also inform students of the material that will
be covered on the quiz. Quizzes will be open book and notes, but
you can not consult with anyone else while taking the quiz.
Academic integrity will be essential when taking these take-home
quizzes and any scholastic dishonesty will be subject to discipline as
set forth by university policy. While no quiz make-ups will be given
out, one quiz grade will be dropped from the final quiz grade
average. Late quizzes will not be accepted.

5. Exams—There will be three in-class exams covering the

readings and lectures. Each exam may consist of a mixture of
multiple-choice, short answer, and essay questions. All three exams
Grading (credit) Criteria will be non-comprehensive.

6. Optional Paper—There will be one optional paper due on

December 14th at 5:00PM. This optional paper will replace one
exam grade. The paper should be 8-10 double-spaced pages in
length (12pt Times New Roman, 1” margins), and include a
bibliography at the end. Students will select and report on a current
political event. More details about the optional paper will be
forthcoming as the semester progresses. If you wish to write the
optional paper, you must clear the topic with me by November 2nd.
Late optional papers will not be accepted.

Grade Breakdown:

Exam 1—20%
Exam 2—25%
Exam 3—25%

Grade Scale:
A+: 100-97 A: 96-93 A-: 92-90
B+: 89-87 B: 86-83 B-: 82-80
C+: 79-77 C: 76-73 C-: 72-70
D+: 69-67 D: 66-63 D-: 62-60
F: 59 or below

Contacting Me About Grades:

Federal privacy law prohibits me from discussing grades over the

phone or through email. To discuss your grades with me, please
contact me in person during my office hours.

General Notice about Assignments and Exams

Please write your work legible and neat manner. If an assignment is

illegible, I may reduce your grade by at least 5%. If your
assignment is unreadable, I will return it ungraded.

Challenging Grades:

1. Submit a letter stating the reasons why you are challenging your
grade. You should declare which question or part of the assignment
or exam you are challenging and include evidence such as a quote
from the textbook or other relevant material to support your
arguments. Please attach the original copy of the assignment to the
letter. I would prefer that you hand the letter and assignment to me
in person.

2. I will examine the letter and assignment, and I will make an initial
assessment on whether to sustain the challenge or not.

3. I will meet with the student to discuss the assignment and my

initial assessment with them. At the end of the meeting, I will make
a final decision on whether to sustain the challenge or not.

4. Please do not challenge a grade until 48 hours after the return of

an assignment. I will accept grade challenges for up to two weeks
after an assignment has been returned.


1. If you are still unsatisfied after challenging a grade, you may

request that I re-grade the entire assignment or exam. I will honor
such requests, but I may either raise or lower your score upon re-
grading your assignment.
First Two Exams: If you are unable to be present for an exam, you
should contact me as soon as possible and before the exam day. If
I have not heard from you by 5:00PM on an exam day, I will assign
a grade of zero unless you provide me with a compelling reason for
why you were not able to contact me before the exam was given. I
Make-up Exams will allow a makeup exam if a student provides a reasonable excuse
for missing an exam. Reasonable excuses could include medical
illnesses, religious holidays, car trouble on exam day, and
unavoidable business travel. Being unprepared for the exam is
not a valid excuse! I may request supporting documentation in
order to determine the validity of an absence.
Makeups for the third exam will only be given if there is an
extraordinary reason for why the student must miss the third
I may provide extra credit activities and assignments throughout the
Extra Credit
Late assignments, other than quizzes, will be accepted for grading.
To encourage students to turn assignment in on the due date, I will
accept late assignments with a ten percent (10%) penalty per day.
Late work will not be accepted after five days after the due date.
Late Work
Turning in late assignments due to illnesses or other reasonable
excuses will be accepted without penalty subject to the discretion of
the instructor. Quizzes and the optional paper will not be
accepted late.
Special Assignments None
Class Attendance Class attendance is strongly encouraged and will be rewarded!
1. Class begins promptly at 2:30PM. Please make plans to be in
class on time as being late is disruptive to the classroom

2. Please show respect to other students and the instructor in class.

Classroom environments can become polluted if students do not
respect each other and their opinions.

3. Expect regular reading assignments. Please read the assigned

reading by the due date. Prompt reading will lead to a better
understanding of the material as we cover these topics in class. Use
the weekend to read ahead if you have commitments during the
week which prevent reading.

4. I will be facilitating classroom discussion frequently. Towards

this end, I intend to question students frequently during class. My
intention is not to make you uncomfortable, but instead to help you
to learn. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me
Classroom Citizenship
5. I require students to keep current with political events by reading
internet news sources (CNN, Fox News, etc), watching TV, or by
reading newspapers. Much of our classroom discussion will be
much more enriching if you keep current with national political

6. I require all outside assignments to be typed. Typed assignments

are easier for me to read and grade. If you do not have regular
access to the computer, please talk to me so that alternative
arrangements can be made. At my discretion, I will penalize any un-
typed assignments twenty percent (20%) per occurrence.

7. eLearning will be heavily utilized during the semester to

communicate class related notices, post extra notes, and for chat-
based review sessions before each exam. I expect all of you to
check eLearning regularly for notices and other materials. If you
cannot check eLearning regularly, please inform me early so that
alternative arrangements can be made.
8. Laptops and other electronic devices will not be permitted, unless
approved by the instructor. You must meet with me in person and
discuss your needs for a laptop. Laptops or other electronic devices
will be approved only if the student intends to use the computer for
note-taking purposes.

9. Please contact me if you are having any trouble with the

course material. I will help any student having difficulty in this
course. I would rather help resolve problems than have students
drop from the course.

Off-campus, out-of-state, and foreign instruction and activities are

subject to state law and University policies and procedures
regarding travel and risk-related activities. Information regarding
Field Trip Policies these rules and regulations may be found at the website address
Off-Campus Instruction &
Course Activities . Additional information is available from the office of the school
dean. Below is a description of any travel and/or risk-related
activity associated with this course.

If you experience any problems with your UTD account you may
Technical Support send an email to: or call the UTD Computer
Helpdesk at 972-883-2911.

The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at

Dallas have rules and regulations for the orderly and efficient
conduct of their business. It is the responsibility of each student and
each student organization to be knowledgeable about the rules and
regulations which govern student conduct and activities. General
information on student conduct and discipline is contained in the
UTD printed publication, A to Z Guide, which is provided to all
registered students each academic year.

The University of Texas at Dallas administers student discipline

within the procedures of recognized and established due process.
Procedures are defined and described in the Rules and Regulations,
Series 50000, Board of Regents, The University of Texas System,
and in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities of the
Student Conduct and Discipline university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. Copies of these
rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the
Dean of Students, where staff members are available to assist
students in interpreting the rules and regulations (SU 1.602,
972/883-6391) and online at

A student at the university neither loses the rights nor escapes the
responsibilities of citizenship. He or she is expected to obey federal,
state, and local laws as well as the Regents’ Rules, university
regulations, and administrative rules. Students are subject to
discipline for violating the standards of conduct whether such
conduct takes place on or off campus, or whether civil or criminal
penalties are also imposed for such conduct.

Academic Integrity The faculty expects from its students a high level of responsibility
and academic honesty. Because the value of an academic degree
depends upon the absolute integrity of the work done by the student
for that degree, it is imperative that a student demonstrate a high
standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work.

Scholastic Dishonesty, any student who commits an act of

scholastic dishonesty is subject to discipline. Scholastic dishonesty
includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the
submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable
in whole or in part to another person, taking an examination for
another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a
student or the attempt to commit such acts.

Plagiarism, especially from the web, from portions of papers for

other classes, and from any other source is unacceptable and will be
dealt with under the university’s policy on plagiarism (see general
catalog for details). This course will use the resources of, which searches the web for possible plagiarism and is
over 90% effective.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States
Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of
copyrighted materials, including music and software. Copying,
displaying, reproducing, or distributing copyrighted works may
infringe the copyright owner’s rights and such infringement is
Copyright Notice subject to appropriate disciplinary action as well as criminal
penalties provided by federal law. Usage of such material is only
appropriate when that usage constitutes “fair use” under the
Copyright Act. As a UT Dallas student, you are required to follow
the institution’s copyright policy (Policy Memorandum 84-I.3-46).
For more information about the fair use exemption, see

The University of Texas at Dallas recognizes the value and

efficiency of communication between faculty/staff and students
through electronic mail. At the same time, email raises some issues
concerning security and the identity of each individual in an email
exchange. The university encourages all official student email
correspondence be sent only to a student’s U.T. Dallas email address
and that faculty and staff consider email from students official only
Email Use
if it originates from a UTD student account. This allows the
university to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of
all individual corresponding and the security of the transmitted
information. UTD furnishes each student with a free email account
that is to be used in all communication with university personnel.
The Department of Information Resources at U.T. Dallas provides a
method for students to have their U.T. Dallas mail forwarded to
other accounts.

The administration of this institution has set deadlines for

withdrawal of any college-level courses. These dates and times are
published in that semester's course catalog. Administration
Withdrawal from Class
procedures must be followed. It is the student's responsibility to
handle withdrawal requirements from any class. In other words, I
cannot drop or withdraw any student. You must do the proper
paperwork to ensure that you will not receive a final grade of "F" in
a course if you choose not to attend the class once you are enrolled.

Procedures for student grievances are found in Title V, Rules on

Student Services and Activities, of the university’s Handbook of
Operating Procedures.

In attempting to resolve any student grievance regarding grades,

evaluations, or other fulfillments of academic responsibility, it is the
obligation of the student first to make a serious effort to resolve the
matter with the instructor, supervisor, administrator, or committee
with whom the grievance originates (hereafter called “the
respondent”). Individual faculty members retain primary
responsibility for assigning grades and evaluations. If the matter
cannot be resolved at that level, the grievance must be submitted in
Student Grievance Procedures
writing to the respondent with a copy of the respondent’s School
Dean. If the matter is not resolved by the written response provided
by the respondent, the student may submit a written appeal to the
School Dean. If the grievance is not resolved by the School Dean’s
decision, the student may make a written appeal to the Dean of
Graduate or Undergraduate Education, and the deal will appoint and
convene an Academic Appeals Panel. The decision of the Academic
Appeals Panel is final. The results of the academic appeals process
will be distributed to all involved parties.

Copies of these rules and regulations are available to students in the

Office of the Dean of Students, where staff members are available to
assist students in interpreting the rules and regulations.

As per university policy, incomplete grades will be granted only for

work unavoidably missed at the semester’s end and only if 70% of
the course work has been completed. An incomplete grade must be
Incomplete Grades resolved within eight (8) weeks from the first day of the subsequent
long semester. If the required work to complete the course and to
remove the incomplete grade is not submitted by the specified
deadline, the incomplete grade is changed automatically to a grade
of F.

The goal of Disability Services is to provide students with

disabilities educational opportunities equal to those of their non-
disabled peers. Disability Services is located in room 1.610 in the
Student Union. Office hours are Monday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m.
to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The contact information for the Office of Disability

Services is:
Disability Services
The University of Texas at Dallas, SU 22
PO Box 830688
Richardson, Texas 75083-0688
(972) 883-2098 (voice or TTY)

If you anticipate issues related to the format or requirements of this

course, please meet with the Coordinator of Disability Services.
The Coordinator is available to discuss ways to ensure your full
participation in the course. If you determine that formal, disability-
related accommodations are necessary, it is very important that you
be registered with Disability Services to notify them of your
eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Disability Services can
then plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.

It is the student’s responsibility to notify his or her professors of the

need for such an accommodation. Disability Services provides
students with letters to present to faculty members to verify that the
student has a disability and needs accommodations. Individuals
requiring special accommodation should contact the professor after
class or during office hours.
The University of Texas at Dallas will excuse a student from class or
other required activities for the travel to and observance of a
religious holy day for a religion whose places of worship are exempt
from property tax under Section 11.20, Tax Code, Texas Code

The student is encouraged to notify the instructor or activity sponsor

as soon as possible regarding the absence, preferably in advance of
the assignment. The student, so excused, will be allowed to take the
exam or complete the assignment within a reasonable time after the
absence: a period equal to the length of the absence, up to a
maximum of one week. A student who notifies the instructor and
completes any missed exam or assignment may not be penalized for
the absence. A student who fails to complete the exam or assignment
Religious Holy Days
within the prescribed period may receive a failing grade for that
exam or assignment.

If a student or an instructor disagrees about the nature of the absence

[i.e., for the purpose of observing a religious holy day] or if there is
similar disagreement about whether the student has been given a
reasonable time to complete any missed assignments or
examinations, either the student or the instructor may request a
ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution, or his or her
designee. The chief executive officer or designee must take into
account the legislative intent of TEC 51.911(b), and the student and
instructor will abide by the decision of the chief executive officer or

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Professor