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Political Science 1001, section 1 T/Th 11:15-12:30 Anderson Hall 250

American Democracy in a Changing World

Spring 2012

Professor Scott Abernathy Department of Political Science 1246A Social Sciences Building email: Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30-3:00 and by appointment

Course web page: or

All course information, the syllabus, note sheets, and any announcements will be posted on the class Moodle page.

Teaching Assistants:

Matt Cravens

1208 Soc. Sci. Mon. 1:00-2:30, and by appointment

I. Introduction

Charles Gregory

1273 Soc. Sci. Wed. 10:30-12:00, and by appointment

This course is intended to introduce students to the expressed hopes of the American people for their government and to the institutions and processes that have been created and recreated to achieve these hopes. What do we mean by good government? Have we achieved it? How do we build it?

This course is designed to help students understand what liberal education is by engaging in the study of American politics as a fundamentally critical and creative enterprise, a grappling with the most complex and challenging problems of political life, such as the sources of political equality and inequality, and the tension between individual aspirations and political control. Questions of power and choice, opportunity and discrimination, freedom and restrictions on freedom are fundamental to the historical development of and current controversies within the American political system, and we will attend to all of these.

We will explore topics including the ideas underlying the nation’s founding and its constitutional foundations; civil rights and civil liberties; the role of the United States in an increasingly globalized world; the structure and function of American political institutions; and the behavior of American citizens in the political process. We will also wrestle with difficult normative questions and tensions, such as that between equality and individual liberty; personal freedom and national security; and the role of government in Americans’ personal lives.


By the end of the semester students should have a basic understanding of the structure and function of American government as well as an increased ability to critically reflect on the degree to which our institutions, processes, and citizens live up to the expectations placed on them. Students will be able to identify, define, and solve problems and to locate and critically evaluate information. Students will have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry. This course fulfills the liberal education requirements for the Social Sciences Core.

II. Required Texts

The following texts are required and have been ordered at the University Bookstore. A copy of each has been placed on 2 hour reserve at Wilson Library:

Canon, David T., Coleman, John J., and Kenneth R. Mayer. The Enduring Debate:

Classic and Contemporary Readings in American Politics, 6th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton.

Barbour, Christine and Gerald C. Wright. 2009. Keeping the Republic, 4 th Brief Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

III. Course structure and requirements

Format. The class is designed as a large lecture. I will, however, try to encourage as much participation and discussion as possible, and it is my hope that students will contribute with their own thoughts on the material or by connecting the material to their own experiences.

Grades. Your final course grade will be based on three non-cumulative in-class quizzes, four short writing assignments, and participating in five brief in-class activities. Each of these components will in the final grade as follows

Quiz total:

70 points

Quiz 1

20 points

Quiz 2

20 points

Quiz 3

20 points

½ of your highest quiz score

10 points

Written assignments (5 pts. each)

20 points

Participation/In-Class activities (2 pts. each)

10 points


100 points

The highest of your three quiz grades is counted more. I do this instead of extra credit to allow for growth over the semester in your understanding and performance, and so that a lower grade on the first quiz will not doom the rest of your semester.


The final grading scale is:

A: Achievement outstanding relative to the basic course requirements


93 points or higher



B: Achievement significantly above the basic course requirements







C: Achievement meeting the basic course requirements







D: Achievement worthy of credit but below the basic course requirements






Below 60 points

Class participation. Regular class attendance is expected, as it will contribute to our discussions and investigations over the course of the semester. While I will not take attendance, it will not be possible to do well on the exams without consistently coming to class.

Assigned readings. Because our class activities depend on the readings, please come to class having read them. All of the readings in the syllabus are required. Lectures and readings will not always overlap, and material from the assigned readings may be included in the exams, whether or not I have discussed it in class.

Quizzes. Each of the three quizzes will cover roughly 1/3 rd of the course material. Each quiz will consist of objective, short answer, and short essay questions. The quizzes will test your comprehension of the material covered in the readings and lectures as well as understanding of the underlying concepts.

In-Class Activities. Students will receive 2 points each for participating in brief in-class activities, usually in small groups. They will be designed to spur discussion and help students to reflect on the material. Completion of the activity will result in the full 2 points. There will be at least six opportunities to participate; therefore, students can miss one activity and still receive full credit.

Written assignments. Each student will be expected to write four 1 page (single-spaced) response papers. These will focus on readings in the CCM Reader. Each will be worth five points, for a possible total of twenty points.

These responses must be handed in on the day that they are due at the end of class, as indicated by the syllabus. There will be five days for which written responses are assigned; therefore, you may choose not to hand in a response for one week's readings. You may hand in all five, as your writing grade will be your highest five writing assignment grades. You may only hand in one writing assignment on each due day.

Students may focus on any of the readings assigned since the previous assignment due date, except for those in the textbook. I will discuss these in more detail in class and provide information on grading criteria.


Emailed response papers will not be graded. Paper copies are required.

The TA’s will be responsible for both your quiz and short paper grades and will initial the items that they have graded, so that you will know whom the grader was, should you have questions.

All questions about grades should initially be directed to the TA who graded the quiz or paper. As I provide rather thorough guidelines for the TA’s, students should not expect to have their grades changed except under unusual circumstances.

IV. Course Policies

Extra-credit. I do not assign extra credit opportunities, as I have never found a way to do this that is both fair to the other members of the class and does not present a huge burden to the TA’s.

Students with Disabilities. I will make every effort to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities. Please contact Disability Services (180 McNamara Alumni Center: 612-626-1333) to discuss your individual needs as early as possible in the semester. More information on disability services is available at

Academic Freedom and Responsibility. All of the work presented in this course is expected to be your own. I will follow the University’s policies and procedures for academic integrity. Using information from a book, article, web page, another person, etc. without crediting the author is plagiarism. Quotations, paraphrased information, and use of others’ ideas should be properly cited in your written assignments. If you have questions about citation, please contact the Professor or one of the TA’s. More information is available at:

Late work and missed exams. Make-up exams are possible only in the case of emergencies or for University-approved functions. In both cases students will need to provide me with documentation (either a note from a physician or from your coach or faculty sponsor). If you must miss an exam for an approved function, you must contact me before the scheduled test time. The make-up exam questions may be different from the regular exam.

Written assignments will only be accepted by the end of class on the day when they are due.

Classroom atmosphere. “Student conduct at the University is governed by the Student Conduct Code, which prohibits disruptive conduct. All students at the University have the right to a calm, productive, and stimulating learning environment. In turn, instructors have a responsibility to nurture and maintain and such an environment” (CLA grading and examination procedures).

Disruptive conduct will not be allowed, and disruptive students may be asked to leave class. Please turn off cell-phones in class and wait until the end of class to zip-up backpacks and organize your papers. I will ensure that class never goes over the allotted time and give students adequate time to organize materials so that you are not dismissed late. Please do not read the newspaper or have conversations with classmates during class. Serious or habitually disruptive behavior will result in a "0" for the class participation/in-class activities grade.


Disruptive conduct does not include thinking and speaking critically about the issues we are discussing, respectfully and impersonally disagreeing with the opinions of fellow students, voicing one’s own opinions, or respectfully questioning and disagreeing with the things that I tell you in class. It will be a far less interesting semester if students accept what I say uncritically, and I hope that will not happen.

Please do not come to class after the scheduled start time. We have very little time for each class session, and streams of latecomers are disruptive to the rest of the students in the class. Of course, things happen, and you may have to arrive late or leave early occasionally. If you arrive late or have to leave early, please sit towards the back of the classroom. Students who arrive late and wander down to the front of the class while I am talking will lose 2 points for participation/in-class activities for each instance.

Each class, I provide a written outline to the students for the day’s material, which will be handed out at the start of class. If you arrive late, please do not come down to the front of the class to ask me for an outline while I am lecturing (yes, this has really happened). One of the TA’s will place some outlines by the back door of the class. If you arrive late, please come in through the back doors, pick up an outline, and try to find a seat without distracting the class.

I will also respect and follow University policies regarding sexual harassment, and I expect all students in the course to do the same. The Regents’ policy on sexual harassment can be found on the web at (

University resources. This class will use multiple choice and short answer exams. Students who feel they might benefit from test-taking services should contact the University Learning and Academic Skills Center at 109 Eddy Hall, East Bank (612-624-3323) or on the web at (

This class will also use writing assignments. The Student Writing Center has TA’s and ESL specialists to help with your writing skills. The Writing Center is at 306 B Lind Hall, East Bank (612-625-1893) or on the web at (


V. Weekly Schedule and Assigned Readings

The course is divided into three broad themes, with each non-cumulative quiz occurring at the end of the theme.

For all readings in the textbook (Barbour and Wright, listed here as B&W) begin at the major section head and end at the major section head if sections begin or end mid-page.

The reader, The Enduring Debate, is listed as CCM (Canon, Coleman, and Mayer).

Please complete the readings by the class period listed.

Section 1: Foundations and the United States Constitution

1/17 Course Introduction

No assigned readings.

1/19 Bad Government

The Declaration of Independence (Barbour and Wright, aka B&W, Appendix).

B&W (This is the textbook), pages 43-53.

CCM, Number 20: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

1/24 Political Power and American Democracy

B&W, pages 1-23

CCM 76: Matt Taibbi, “Bailing Out Wall Street”

CCM 52: Richard D. Parker, “Power to the Voters”

1/26 The Articles of Confederation and the Roots of the Constitution

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (B&W, Appendix)

B&W, pages 53-61.

CCM 7: Michael Kammen, “The Nature of American Constitutionalism”



The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States (B&W, Appendix)

B&W, 61-68

CCM Appendix: The Federalist, Number 10

2/2 Ratification

B&W, pages 68-73

CCM 9: James Madison, The Federalist, Number 51

Written response #1 due in class

2/7 Federalism

B&W, pages 77-86

CCM 12: James Madison, The Federalist, Number 46

CCM 13: Paul Peterson, “The Price of Federalism”

2/9 Contemporary American Federalism

B&W, pages 87-101

CCM 15: Sean Wilentz, “States of Anarchy: America’s Long, Sordid Affair with Nullification”

CCM 16: “Arizona House Concurrent Resolution 2014”

2/14 Political Ideology in America

B&W, pages 23-32

CCM 4: Sarah Song, “What Does it Mean to be an American?”


Non-cumulative quiz #1, in class


Section 2: American Political Institutions

2/21 Congress (1): History and Structure

B&W, pages 187-219

Written response #2 due in class

2/23 Congress (2): Some Issues in the Study of Congress

CCM 25: David Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection

CCM 26: John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, “Too Much of a Good Thing:

More Representative is Not Necessarily Better”

2/28 The Judiciary (1): The Least Dangerous Branch

B&W, pages 293-307

CCM 40: Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist 78

3/1 The Judiciary (2): Judicial Decision-Making and Constitutional Interpretation

B&W, pages 310-324

CCM 41: David O’Brien, “The Court and American Life”

3/6 Civil Liberties

B&W, pages 105-142

CCM 21: Jonathan Rauch, “In Defense of Prejudice”

3/8 Civil Rights

B&W, pages 145-183

CCM Appendix: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)

Written Response #3 due in class

No Class Week of March 12-16 (Spring Break)


3/20 The Presidency

B&W, pages 223-254

CCM 30: Richard Neustadt, “The Power to Persuade”

CCM 33: Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Robert L. Borosage, “Change Won’t Come Easy”

No Class Thursday, March 22

3/27 The Bureaucracy

B&W, pages 261-274

CCM 36: James Q. Wilson, “Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It”

3/29 Non-cumulative quiz #2, in class

Section 3: American Political Participation and Behavior

4/3 Interest Groups

B&W, pages 375-393

CCM 64: Theda Skocpol, “Associations Without Members”

CCM 66: E. E. Schattschneider, “The Scope and Bias of the Pressure System”

4/5 The Media

B&W, pages 433-463

CCM 47: Markus Prior, “News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout”

Written Response #4 due in class


4/10 Public Opinion

B&W, pages 327-353

CCM 46: Richard Morin, “Choice Words: If you Can’t Understand Our Poll Questions, Then How Can We Understand Your Answers?”

4/12 Political Parties

B&W, 357-375

CCM 59: Morris P. Fiorina, “What Culture Wars? Debunking the Myth of a Polarized America?”

CCM 60: James Q. Wilson, “How Divided are We?” and Morris P. Fiorina’s Letter in Response to Wilson

4/17 Campaigns and Elections

B&W, pages 409-427

CCM 51: V. O. Key, Jr., “The Voice of the People: An Echo”

4/19 Voting and Political Participation

B&W, pages 397-409

CCM 53: Louis Menand, “The Unpolitical Animal: How Political Science Understands Voters”

4/24 Public Policy: Domestic Policy

B&W, pages 467-487

4/26 Public Policy(continued)

CCM 568: Charles E. Lindblom, “The Science of Muddling Through”

Written Response #5 due in class




Non-cumulative quiz #3 in class.

There is no final examination for this course.


Rev. 09/02/08


(Note: For further information, please see the University “Classroom, Grading, and Examination Procedures” brochure online at:

1. The two grading systems used are the ABCDF and S-N. Political Science majors must take political science courses on the ABCDF system; non-majors may use either system. In all political science courses the bottom line for the S grade is the equivalent of the C- grade; in other words, what is normally considered as D level work will be assigned a grade of N on the S-N system. All students, regardless of the system used, will be expected to do all work assigned in the course, or its equivalent as determined by the instructor.

2. The instructor will specify the conditions, if any, under which an “Incomplete” will be assigned instead of a grade. No student has an automatic right to an I. The instructor may set dates and conditions for makeup of work, if it is to be allowed. The Department of Political Science administers a general make-up exam every quarter for students who have written permission from the Instructor to make up a missed final examination. Inquire at the Undergraduate Advising office (1482 Social Sciences) for the date scheduled for the make-up.

3. Inquiries regarding any change of grade should be directed to the instructor of the course. A student who alleges unfairness on the part of an instructor is entitled to file a grievance with the Department’s Grievance Committee.

4. Students are responsible for class attendance and all course requirements, including deadlines and examinations. The instructor will specify if class attendance is required or counted in the grade for the class.

5. The College does not permit a student to submit extra work in an attempt to raise his or her grade, unless the Instructor has specified at the outset of the class such opportunities afforded to all students.

6. The College has defined scholastic misconduct broadly as “any act that violates the rights of another student in academic work or that involves misrepresentation of your own work.” Scholastic dishonesty includes (but is not necessarily limited to): cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing, which means misrepresenting as your own work any part of work done by another; submitting the same paper, or substantially similar papers, to meet the requirements of more than one course without the approval and consent of all instructors concerned; depriving another student of necessary course materials; or interfering with another student's work. Instructors may define additional standards beyond these. Further information is available at

7. Students with disabilities that affect their ability to participate fully in class or to meet all course requirements are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the instructor so that appropriate accommodations can be arranged. Further information is available at the Disability Services website:


8. University policy prohibits sexual harassment as defined in the 12/11/1998 policy statement. The full statement is available at: Complaints about sexual harassment should be reported to the University Office of Equal Opportunity at 419 Morrill Hall.

9. As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website at


Pol1001: American Democracy in a Changing World Professor Abernathy

Guidelines for Written Assignments

General Part of the work in this course involves producing four written assignments of 1 single-spaced page each. Each paper should be typed and should use standard font and margins. The point of these assignments is not to do more research or to write at length, but to critically respond to and think about one of the course readings.

You may choose to respond to any of the assigned readings in the reader (The Enduring Debate) that have been assigned during the period covered by the assignment. For example, written response #2 may cover any of the readings (other than the textbook) assigned since written response #1 was due up to the day that written response #2 is due. Please do not respond to the textbook (Barbour and Wright).

These responses are due at the end of class on the day indicated by the syllabus. No credit will be given for responses handed in late, and emailed responses will not be graded. You have 5 opportunities to do these; therefore, you may skip one. You may hand in assignments on each of the due-days if you would like to try for a higher grade (up to the 20 point maximum).

Content Each response should include the following:

In no more than 1 or 2 sentences each, state an argument that the author(s) make. You do not need to summarize the articles in detail, just very briefly state the point or issue that you are going to deal with in the rest of the response essay.

In 1 or 2 paragraphs give your response to the argument(s) that the authors have made. What do you think? Do you agree with the author(s)? Is the argument incomplete (and how can you expand on it)? Is the point correct, but not strong enough? Too strong? Does the argument relate to something else that we have read?

Finally, provide 1 question that occurs to you as you read the essay.


Each written assignment will be graded on a 5-point scale. The TA’s will not provide extensive written comments on these. Rather you will receive points for doing the following:

1 Assignment was handed in (late assignments will not be accepted).


1 Brief statement of the argument(s).



2 Your responses.


I do not care if you adopt a conservative, moderate, liberal, libertarian, Marxist, Maoist, socialist, communitarian, or other point of view in your critiques. I only care that you evaluate the arguments respectfully and thoughtfully, and that you back up what you have to say. In fact, I encourage each of you to try to take a point of view that you do not agree with. It can be a very useful exercise.

Feedback Sheet:

Student Name:

Pol1001: Abernathy Response Paper Grading Sheet

Response handed in. (1 point max.)

Response handed in. (1 point max.)

Brief statement of the argument(s). (1 point max.)

Brief statement of the argument(s). (1 point max.)

Your response and evaluation. (2 points max.)

Your response and evaluation. (2 points max.)

Raising a question for the class. (1 point max.)

Raising a question for the class. (1 point max.)

Total (out of 5 maximum)


response and evaluation. (2 points max.) Raising a question for the class. (1 point max.) Total