Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Overview

This course aims to get students thinking about politics and policy as a part of their everyday life. We treat politics as a struggle among competing advocates trying to persuade others to see the world as they do, working within a context that is structured primarily by institutions and cultural ideas. Over the course of the semester, we raise the following questions: How do conditions become problems for government to solve, while other problems fail to attract government's attention? What sorts of political arguments are persuasive, and why? Why do we choose the policies we do? Do policies ever "work," and how would we know? We spend the first class of the course developing a policymaking framework and understanding ideology—taking a whirlwind tour of the American political system. After that, we examine six policy issues: health care, gun control, the federal budget, immigration reform, same-sex marriage, and energy and climate change. We wrap up with a summary class and a student-driven, in-class oral project.



Course Requirements

Paper 1 10%
Paper 2 15%
Paper 3 20%
Paper 4 20%
Final Oral Project 10%
Class participation 25%