Prof. Susan B. Hansen
510 Woo Dong Hall
Office hours: Monday 3-4:30
Cell: 010 5677 7879
Physpics links to arrow iie337 links to arrow syllabus

 IIE337 - Introduction to American Government

How does American government really work?  And how well? In this class we will consider several different interpretations of American politics. Some analysts are highly critical of the American experiment with democracy, while others reach more laudatory conclusions.  We will discuss issues such as citizen involvement (or lack thereof), Presidential leadership, the conduct of elections, the role of Congress and the Supreme Court, the influence of religion and the media, race and inequality, and public policy-making.  We will also examine the impact of September 11, 2001, terrorism, and the war in Iraq on American political institutions and values.

Required Texts:
Peverill Squire et al., Dynamics of Democracy, 4th ed.
(Atomic Dog Publishing). Available either in paperback ($59.) or on the Web ($29, to order, visit
William Hudson, American Democracy in Peril, 4th ed.
 (Chatham House, 2004)

Seminar format: This is primarily a lecture course, but we will also make creative use of debate and discussion. You should do the readings by the dates indicated, and come to class prepared with specific issues or questions.    

  Two exams and two or three short (3-5 page) critical analyses of topics or chapters from the readings. These will serve as the basis for class discussion or debates for that week. These components are weighted thus:

Papers and participation
30 %

Midterm examination
30 %

Final examination
40 %

Course Topics and Reading Assignments
(*Article in course reader or on the Web)

I.  American politics and democratic theory
      Dynamics of Democracy, Chs. 1, 3
      Hudson, American Democracy in Peril, Introduction, "Models of democracy"

II.  Constitutional design
      Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 2.  Read the full text of the U. S. Constitution (pp. 51-65)
      and Appendices A, D, E   (Declaration of Independence, Federalist Paper #51, etc.)
      Hudson, Ch. 2, "Separation of powers"                  

III.  Citizens, media, and politics

      Dynamics of Democracy, Chs. 6, 8 and Appendix L
      Hudson, Ch. 4, “Citizen participation

IV.  Parties and elections
       Dynamics of Democracy, Chs. 7,  9 and Appendices H, I, K, and M
       Hudson, Ch. 5, “Trivialized elections”

V.  Interest groups: business and religion
        Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 10 and Appendix C, Federalist #10.
       Hudson, Ch. 6, “The privileged position of business”
     *Susan B. Hansen, “Religion and Morality,”
                       in Gillian Peele, ed. Developments in American Politics (Palgrave, 2002)

VI.  Congress and representation
        Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 11
      *American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality. Report of the APSA Task
                                 Force on Inequality and American Democracy, 2004.


VII.  The American Presidency
          Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 12 and Appendix G
         Video on the Cuban missile crisis

VIII.  The executive branch
          Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 13
        *Check out the Web site of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, at                            

IX.   The courts, civil liberties and criminal justice

        Dynamics of Democracy, Chs. 4, 14
        Hudson, Ch. 2
      *Paul Parker, “The Torture Papers: The Route to Abu Ghraib.”

X.   Race and inequality: "The American Dilemma?"

       Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 5 and Appendix F, “Race and the U. S. Constitution”
       Hudson, Ch. 7, "Inequality," 231-270
      *Jonathan Alter, “Poverty, race, and Katrina: lessons of a national shame.”
                        Newsweek, Sept. 19, 2005, 42-48.

XI.   The policy process in a federal system

        Dynamics of Democracy, Chs. 15, 16, 17

XII.  American foreign policy

       Dynamics of Democracy, Ch. 18  
       Hudson, Ch. 8, “The national security state”