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Principles of United States and Texas Government

[PSCI 2301 -(PSCI 211)- Princ of US and Tex Gov]


Fall 2010
Mondays/Wednesdays (11:00am-12:15pm)
Social Science Building 141

Dr. Rodríguez
Office: Social Science Building 149
Telephone: (903) 468-3094
email: Robert_Rodriguez@tamu-commerce.edu
Office Hours: M/W 1:30-3:00, T/TH 11:00-12:00, or by appointment

Course Description:

Welcome to Principles of United States and Texas Government! The purpose of this
course is to study the underlying ideas, principles, and participatory practices of
constitutional government in the United States and Texas. This course will introduce you
to the historical, social, political, cultural, and global forces that affect national and
statewide political activity. Please note that you will not be taught what to think about
political issues in this course. Rather, you will be provided with the knowledge base to
determine how to think about political issues for yourself.
After a brief examination of early U.S. and Texas political history and political culture,
we will examine the formation of the federal and state constitutions. Then, we will
discuss the challenges and opportunities granted by federalism and republicanism in the
United States and Texas. Subsequently, we will spend a significant amount of time
analyzing civil liberties and civil rights. You are fortunate to be taking this course during
an election year, and as such we will discuss campaigns, voting, and elections in the
context of the 2010 Midterm elections that will take place on November 2, 2010. We
will conclude the course by examining the roles that public opinion, the media, political
parties and interest groups play in U.S. and Texas politics.

Format:

Each class session will involve lectures and discussions about the assigned readings. You
will regularly be asked to contribute your opinions about the assigned topics and answer
questions about the readings. In addition to the assigned readings listed in the syllabus,
we will often read short news articles and opinion columns in class and discuss them on
the spot, since developments in American politics occur on a daily basis.

Requirements/Assignments:

Examinations: In this course, all students are required to take three exams, each of
which will consist of 50 questions in a multiple choice format. Together, these exams will
comprise 75% of your grade. There is not a final exam in this course.

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Please note: If you miss an exam, you will receive 0% for that exam.

If you have a legitimate reason for missing an exam (e.g. severe illness or injury
requiring professional medical care, emergencies in your immediate family, participation
in official university activities, legal obligations) AND you have supporting
documentation for your absence, then you may request taking the make-up exam, which
will be a comprehensive examination given during finals week.

Requests for taking the make-up exam must be submitted in writing and include
documentation explaining and substantiating why the absence was legitimate. An
approval to take the make-up exam will be based solely upon the professor’s evaluation
of your request and supporting documentation. Your grade on the make-up exam may
only be used to substitute one missed exam. Any other missed exams will receive 0%
scores, irrespective of the circumstances.

Attendance and Participation: Students are required to attend class and attendance will
be taken at the beginning of each class session using a seating chart. Students are
expected to be in their seat by the beginning of each class and may be counted absent if
they are not in their assigned seat at any point during the class period. Attendance is
critical, discussions are irreplaceable, and course sessions cannot be “made up,” nor
can absences be “excused” without documentation. Together, attendance and
participation comprise 15% of your grade.

Short Writing Assignments and Pop Quizzes: These will be assigned randomly
throughout the semester and will count for a total of 10% of your grade. If you are absent
when a short writing assignment or pop quiz is given, you cannot make it up, irrespective
of the circumstances. Short writing assignments and pop quizzes will be graded on the
basis of the content and clarity of your answers.

Grades:

Your grade in this course will be determined by the criteria listed below. The following
scale will be used to determine your grade:

 Exam #1 (September 22): 25%

 Exam #2 (October 27): 25%

 Exam #3 (December 8): 25%

 Attendance and Participation: 15%

 Short Writing Assignments/Pop Quizzes: 10%

A 90-100%; B 80-89%; C 70-79%; D 60-69%; F Below 60%

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In order to maximize your performance in this course, you must:

 Attend each class session;

 Read the assigned material before class;

 Be prepared to discuss the topics presented in class;

 Refrain from reading materials or working on other homework during class;

 Notify the professor in advance if you need to arrive late or leave early (this may
affect your attendance grade);

 Be courteous to -and respectful of- your fellow students and professor.

Notes on cell phone and laptop usage during class:

 You should always turn off your cell phone before class begins, but if you forget:

o Do not answer your phone if it rings

o Refrain from texting during class

 Laptop use during class is a privilege, and you may use one only to take notes. If
you are found to be checking your email or using the internet during class you
may lose this privilege.

Code of Student Conduct: Faculty have the authority to request students who exhibit
inappropriate behavior to leave the class and may refer serious offenses to the University
Police Department and/or the Dean of Students for disciplinary action. Failure to comply
with the commonsensical directions listed above may result in a verbal request to cease
inappropriate behavior, your immediate removal from the class and/or a review by an
appropriate university disciplinary agency. For more information on this subject, please
see the Student Guidebook.

Note to Students with Disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a
federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for
persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students
with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable
accommodation of their disabilities. If you have a disability requiring an
accommodation, please contact:

Office of Student Disability Resources and Services


Texas A&M University-Commerce
Gee Library, Room 132
Phone (903) 886-5150 or (903) 886-5835
Fax (903) 468-8148
StudentDisabilityServices@tamu-commerce.edu

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Required Readings:

There are two required texts for this course:

 We the People: An Introduction to American Politics (Shorter 7th Edition,


2009, W.W. Norton and Co.)
by Benjamin Ginsberg , Theodore J. Lowi, Margaret Weir
ISBN: 978-0-393-93267-6

 Lone Star Politics: Tradition and Transformation in Texas (2008, CQ Press)


by Ken Collier, Steven Galatas, Julie Harrelson-Stephens
ISBN: 978-0-87289-506-5

Course Schedule:

Week 1 Introduction to Course; U.S. Political Culture

August 30
Read:
 Nothing. Buy your books

September 1
Read:

 We the People, Preface


 We the People, Chapter 1

Week 2 Texas Early Political History; Texas Political Culture

September 6
Read:
 Nothing. Monday, September 6 is Labor Day

September 8
Read:
 Lone Star Politics, Preface
 Lone Star Politics, Chapter 1

Week 3 U.S. Independence; U.S. Constitution; Texas Constitution

September 13
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 2

September 15
Read:
 Lone Star Politics, Chapter 2
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Week 4 Federalism; Exam #1

September 20
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 3

September 22
Read: Prepare for Exam # 1.
 Exam #1 will take place at the beginning of class on the 22nd of September. You
will have the entire class period to complete it. The exam will cover all of the
material presented from the 30th of August through the 20th of September.

Week 5 Civil Liberties

September 27
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 4 (p. 119-140)

September 29
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 4 (p. 140-155)

Week 6 Civil Rights

October 4
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 5 (p. 157-177)

October 6
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 5 (p. 177-201)

Week 7 U.S. Political Participation and Voting

October 11
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 8 (p. 283-303)

October 13
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 8 (p. 303-317)

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Week 8 U.S. Campaigns and Elections

October 18
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 10 (p. 363-393)

October 20
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 10 (p. 393-415)

Week 9 Texas Elections; Exam #2

October 25
Read:
 Lone Star Politics, Chapter 7

October 27
Read: Prepare for Exam #2
 Exam #2 will take place at the beginning of class on the 27th of October. You
will have the entire class period to complete it. The exam will cover all of the
material presented from the 27th of September through the 25th of October.

Week 10 2010 Midterm Elections

November 1
Read:
 Prepare to discuss the upcoming 2010 Midterm Elections.

November 3
Read:
 Prepare to discuss the results and implications of the 2010 Midterm Elections.

Week 11 Public Opinion

November 8
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 6 (p. 205-221)

November 10
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 6 (p. 221-244)

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Week 12 The Media

November 15
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 7 (p. 247-266)

November 17
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 7 (p. 266-281)

Week 13 Political Parties

November 22
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 9 (p. 319-341)

November 24
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 9 (p. 341-361)

Week 14 Interest Groups

November 29
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 11 (p. 417-429)

December 1
Read:
 We the People, Chapter 11 (p. 430-451)

Week 15 Texas Political Parties and Interest Groups

December 6
Read:
 Lone Star Politics, Chapter 8

December 8
Read: Prepare for Exam #3

 Exam #3 will take place at the beginning of class on the 8th of December. You
will have the entire class period to complete it. The exam will cover all of the
material presented from the 1st of November through the 6th of December.

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Finals Week Make-Up Examination

December 15
 If you have been approved to take the Make-up Exam, it will take place at
10:30am on Wednesday, December 15. The make-up exam is comprehensive,
covering material presented from August 30 through December 6. You will
have one hour and fifteen minutes to complete it.