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Introduction to American Government

Some things we do in class:

  • Use different conceptions of American political culture to structure a local "town hall"-style debate over accepting immigrants into a town

  • Write a constitution for a new country, debate the constitution's merits, and decide whether or not to ratify it (with the possibility of suggested amendments)

  • "Visit" a McDonald's and a Department of Motor Vehicles office to explore why bureaucrats do what they do

  • Create interest groups and try to get others to join

  • Take control of a state political party and develop a plan to maintain, solidify, and/or grow support

  • Syllabus, Fall 2016

Writing Intensive section:

American Legal Systems

Some things we do in class:

  • Understand the intricacies of the infield-fly rule

  • Look at the law and American legal system from both "law school" and social science perspectives

  • Create hypothetical civil cases and evaluate both their strategic litigation and black-letter law aspects

  • Petition the Supreme Court for certiorari and then decide whether or not to grant the writ

  • Syllabus, Fall 2017

US Presidency

Some things we do in class:

  • Evaluate the different ways social scientists study the presidency

  • Consider the nature of leadership and what makes a president an effective or ineffective leader

  • Model opposing White House advice structures in order to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each 

  • Run stripped-down versions of the Democratic and Republican Party Iowa caucuses

  • Conduct an in-depth examination of the Electoral College, debate its relative merits and demerits, and explore possibilities of reform

  • During the fall of presidential election years, the Electoral College debate is open to the public Here's a link to the latest debate! It starts at the 3:38 mark on the video. 

  • Syllabus, Fall 2017

Constitutional Law

Some things we do in class:

  • Replicate the Federalist-Antifederalist debate over the creation of the national judiciary

  • Eschew a course textbook in favor of reading full, unedited opinions

  • Build on the knowledge gained from the American Legal Systems course in order to make sense of the opinions

  • Apply Supreme Court doctrine to hypothetical cases from an advocate's, majority opinion writer's, and dissenting opinion writer's perspective

  • Syllabus, Spring 2017

Law and Politics Research Methods

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