Why is writing a check to a Member of Congress considered protected free speech, whereas handing a police officer a $100 bill to think again about why he pulled you over considered a bribe, when both actions are taken to influence the decision-making of a government official?
This course is designed to prepare undergraduates to study -- and maybe even understand -- the many dimensions of American politics, from how we understand and interpret the ideas behind our founding documents to how the practice of politics in the United States stacks up against the parchment promises of American constitutionalism. I do not spend much time acquainting (or reacquainting) students with the nuts and bolts of American government. By now, you should know how many members serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate, whether Supreme Court justices are appointed or elected and which amendment to the Constitution protects the right to free speech. My goal is very different: to force you to think hard -- very hard -- about the tension between liberty and authority, the role of law in the political system, whether the "original intent" of the constitutional framers (assuming we know who they are) matter in contemporary debates about the Constitution and governance, how the changing demographics of American society are altering who participates in politics and, by extension, who governs.
From the Professor- Steven Taylor
How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?
This section of Politics in the U.S. has a smaller class size, two program assistants to arrange weekly field trips, and a final examination review section.
How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?
The labs correspond with the units covered in the lectures. For instance, when we cover "Civil Rights and Liberties," the students visit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).