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SYLLABUS

School of Public Policy


Georgia Institute of Technology
POL 1101
Government of the U.S.
Fall 2014

Dr. G. A. Persons
D.M. Smith 209
Hours: 11-12 T-Th/Appts

The Graduate Teaching Assistant for this class is Ms. Janelle Nichole Johnson. You may contact
her at: jjohnson367@gatech.edu
Course Overview
This course is about politics, government, public policy, and the people who occupy that
critical space which we refer to as the political arena. Those who occupy the political arena are
many and include elected officials and aspirants to elective office; political parties and interest
groups who seek to determine who gets elected and what elected officials do once in office; civil
servants and appointed officials who staff the bureaucracy and take care that policies are executed
and laws and regulations are duly enforced. We the people, voters and non-voters, taxpayers all,
also play varied roles in the dramatis personae who populate and sustain American Democracy.
The current, mid-term (off-year) election season with the voters being asked to vet an
interesting cadre of aspirants for high political office, and having recently reelected a sitting
president is a particularly interesting time to study the dynamics of American government, politics,
and public policy. In a significant way, campaigns and elections are the closest we come to engaging
in a national debate and participating in the equivalent of a national referendum. So, let us go forth
during these next several months to explore the promises, possibilities, contradictions, and conflicts
through which we operationalize preferences in the pursuit of solutions to domestic and
international problems.
Learning Objectives for the Course include the following:

Students have the ability to describe how historical, economic, political, social, and
spatial relationships develop, persist, and change

Students are aware of how demographic designations shape political views and policy
preferences.
Students have the ability to explain the functions and interactions between the major
branches of government in the development of public policies.

Requirements for the Course Include:


1.
2.
3.

4.

Three exams, inclusive of the final exam;


Participation in a Small Group Project (Major Guidelines are attached)
Other minor assignments as may be determined in support of exploring current events or key
issues raised by the textbook. Substantial use will be made of special materials/readings that
will be provided by the Professor and will be posted on T-Square. Make sure to check your email
on a daily basis.
Students are expected to keep abreast of current events relevant to the course coverage and are
expected to participate in class discussions in a civil and respectful manner.

2
Because of the structure of the course (allowing for discussion of current events and some meeting
time for small groups), dates for exams are not set in advance. Instead, exams will be announced at
least 2 class periods in advance and will be preceded by a brief review. Some Chapters MAY be
covered only in designated parts.
Options For the Group Projects
1.

2.
3.
4.

Examination of the Implementation and impact of an existing domestic policy in which you
evaluate policy outcomes and impacts against the goals and objectives of the law; and
include observations and experiences of officials or beneficiaries who have had direct
involvement with the public policy.
Conducting a survey or opinion poll in which you decide on the foci to be examined;
construct the survey instrument or poll; execute the survey; and analyze the data;
Explore and Explain An Ongoing Political Campaign in which you evaluate campaign
literature and ads; profile the population in the election district; assess the strategies of the
contenders; etc.
Student Option with approval of the Professor.

We will have in-depth discussions about the Group Projects; written, general, guidelines will
be provided, and further details and instructions will be given to each group.
A random selection of groups will present in class as time permits. All groups will submit a
written, Group Project Paper. Each member of a group will receive the grade points awarded
to their group project.
Grading Policy
All required assignments (will) carry a designated number of points. The value of the exams may
vary somewhat due to the substance and content of the materials covered by each exam. Thus, some
exams may be worth more than 100 points. Individual grades will be calculated as a percentage of
the total points available for all assignments.
Students may make up a single, missed exam. The Make-Up Exam will be a cumulative
examination and will be offered one time: at the end of the semester, at the time of the Final
Exam. The Make-Up Exam cannot be applied to improve a low performance on a regular exam.
Required Text:
Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy, 16th edition, by George Edwards, Martin
Wattenberg, and Robert Lineberry. Longman-Pearson Publishers.

Course Outline
Part I. Foundations
Chapter 1.

Introducing Government in America

Chapter 3.

Federalism

Chapter 5.

Civil Rights and Public Policy

Chapter 6.

Public Opinion and Political Action

3
Exam 1
Part II. People, Politics and Government
Chapter 10. Interest Groups
Chapter 11. Congress
Chapter 12 The Presidency
Chapter 13. The Budget: The Politics of Taxing and Spending
Exam 2
SOME GROUP REPORTS!
Part IV. Policies
Chapter 14. The Federal Bureaucracy
Chapter 15. The Federal Courts
Chapter 16. Economic and Social Welfare Policymaking
Final Exam

Happy Holidays!