POLS& 101: Introduction to Political Science

Class Program
Degree Code
Social Science
Credits 5 Lecture Hours 55
In order to make politics relevant to the people, one must go where the people are. Many Americans find politics to be distant and irrelevant to their daily experience without ever realizing that politics are all around them in many different formats. This class brings students face-to-face with such realities while emphasizing an understanding of the nature, purpose, and practice of American politics within a global context. Topics covered include the American Constitution, the elections process, bureaucracies, the role of the media, and modern political culture in America.
Quarters Offered
Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following knowledge or skills:

  1. Define what politics is, including concepts such as power, authority, and law and the concepts of reality and perception.
  2. Discuss the American Constitution as a model for modern democratic institutions and states.
  3. Critically examine the process of writing a constitution and why so many fail the test of time.
  4. Evaluate the role of the American government including concepts of security, anarchy, hierarchy, and group dynamics.
  5. Debate the methods of control governments engage in such as the Panopticon, force, legitimacy and group conflict.
  6. Explain the role of governments in the economy and discern the variety of politico-economic organizations (the “isms” are the thing).
  7. Compare and contrast a variety of executive and legislative and judicial forms.
  8. Debate the viability of democracy, both direct democracy and representative democracy, in the modern world.
  9. Discuss the role of media in politics.
  10. Analyze political culture and its impact on both the government and the governed.
  11. Communicate the importance of political advertising for election campaigns using familiar themes and targeted audiences.
  12. Debate political references in popular culture.
Institutional Outcomes
IO1 Communication: Students will be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
Course Content Outline
  1. The Ideal vs. the Real
    1. What is politics
    2. What is political science
    3. What is law
    4. Fiction as a tool for exploring politics
  2. The American Constitution as a Model
    1. What is a constitution
    2. Branches of government
    3. Will democracy survive?
  3. Elections
    1. The Electoral College
    2. Candidacy and incumbents
    3. Money money money
  4. Bureaucracies
    1. What are they
    2. Why do we need them
    3. Why do we hate them
  5. Media and Politics
    1. The business of news
    2. Reality and fiction in politics
  6. Political Culture
    1. Why you think what you think
    2. Does culture determine politics?
    3. Civil rights
  7. International Politics
Department Guidelines

The Political Science department believes students learn best when engaged in activities which simulate government and the political process. As much as is feasible, the instructor should strive to include such activities within the framework of the class.

PO4 should be assessed: Students will be able to recognize or articulate personal/interpersonal aspects of, or connections between, diverse cultural, social, or political contexts.

PO5 should be assessed: Students will be able to solve problems by gathering, interpreting, combining and/or applying information from multiple sources.