Political Science at Huntingdon College
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PSC 212: American Policy System, Syllabus

revised 01/07/18 by Jeremy Lewis.

Purpose:
1997 Catalog description, PSC 212: American Policy System The system of making and implementing public policy with case studies of public policy such as foreign policy, economic policy and civil rights. State and local government with Alabama as a particular example. Recommended: 201. (201 is no longer a pre-requisite).
Course objectives:
  1. To offer essential knowledge and conceptual understanding of two topics required for the political science major: public policy and state government
  2. Further develop critical thinking, and oral and written communication skills introduced at the 200 level
Learning Objectives, students will demonstrate
  1. Understanding of the process of making and implementing public policy
  2. Introductory knowledge of a few areas of US foreign and domestic policy
  3. Critical thinking about current challenges in Alabamian and federal politics
Expected Outcomes, students will demonstrate
  1. Competent exam answers on the federal policymaking system
  2. Competent exam answers on US domestic and foreign policy
  3. Competent exam answers on Alabamian politics
  4. Skills in interpreting simple data visualization
  5. A competent research paper on some aspect of the term's material (judged in descending order of importance, by content, research, organization & writing)
  6. A competent oral briefing of this research (judged by content, audiovisual illustration, speaking, organization of the briefing, and question answering)
Those taking the State's General Social Studies teaching certificate should take both PSC 201 and PSC 212.
The following requirements are taught in PSC 201 American Government:
(1)(b)1.(i) The purposes of government and how its powers are acquired, used, and justified.
(1)(b)(ii) American federal, ... government;
The following are introduced in principle in PSC 201 American Government and fleshed out in PSC 212 American Policy System:
(1)(b)(iii) The meaning, origin, and continuing influences of key ideas of the democratic republican form of government such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, general welfare, domestic peace and the rule of law.
The following are taught in PSC 212 American Policy System:
(1)(b)(ii) American [federal,] state, and local governments; domestic and international issues facing the United States and governments of other nations.

(1)(b)(iv) Citizen rights and responsibilities and how to facilitate discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizenship in a democratic republic."

About the Books and Materials
For latest information, see the Booklist page. Note: Resources in blue are shared with other political science courses. Academic requirements
For the current formal requirements, latest course grading formula, and deliverable documents, see the Requirements page.  For the current due dates of tests, paper, exam and presentations see the Dates page. For the current weekly readings and topics of discussion, see the Timetable page for this course (or simply click the PSC course code in the heading of this page.) For the instructor's most recent office hours, click the availability page here.
Discussion
This introductory course will be devoted primarily to the process and results of policymaking at the federal, state and local level. This course, not simply the second half of American Government, has an emphasis on public policy; and more emphasis on the state level and the basic characteristics of international relations.
This course will present you with some of the moral questions about public policy and explain some of the choices the American system has made in public programs. For example, what does federal law actually say about abortion, school prayer or capital punishment? How does the law match or contradict public opinion? Why is American health care policy or taxation so distinct from that of other developed liberal democracies? Is the federal government actually distinguished by waste, fraud and abuse -- or is that more true of the states and cities, including Alabama and Montgomery?

Throughout the Janda text you will find fascinating data charts which we will examine in class -- and in Serow's The Lanahan Polity Reader, classic readings of political theory for class debate.

Rather than simply listening to lectures, you will be invited to present readings, and sometimes question guest speakers in class on the dilemmas of democracy and public policy. The first session of the week will usually offer an interactive lecture on the key points of the main text chapter, often followed by a discussion of Janda's data charts or Serow's readings. Often the end of the week will offer a seminar stimulated by a guest speaker, video clip, or a current affairs reading -- with students contributing reports, questions and discussion. (You may present from outline notes, but not by reading out of the outlines or the book: that is unparliamentary!)
Behavior
You are expected to comply with the HC Honor Code [read College's statement, August 2009, of procedure for violations] and with specific rules of decorum placed on our Requirements page.  You are also expected to comply with Huntingdon College's Code of Classroom Conduct, August 2009.

My Attendance Policy [read latest details on Requirements page]

While school sanctioned excuses will not count against you, absences reduce your potential contribution to class, and absences in excess of four contact hours will reduce your class participation score.
My specific policy on late completion of in-class work [read latest details on Requirements page] Late completion of tests or other graded exercises in class will only be permitted in cases with documented, prior notification and documented excuses from a coach, medical doctor or similar authority.

My Class Participation Policy [read latest details on Requirements page]

HC's Accommodation of Special Needs
Faculty at Huntingdon College make every effort to accommodate unique and special needs of students with respect to speech, hearing, vision, seating, or other possible adaptions.  Please notify the Disability Services Intake Coordinator as soon as possible of requested accommodations.