Course Overview & Student Learning Objectives:
“Introduction to United States and California government and politics, including constitutions, political institutions and processes, and political actors. Examination of political behavior, public policy, political ideas, and public policy.”

Major Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

“After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Outcome 1: Identify and evaluate political institutions and processes in the United States, with focus on the Congress, Presidency, and the Courts.
  • Outcome 2: Explain the development of the U.S. Constitution, with special attention to the principles of checks and balances.
  • Outcome 3: Analyze current political issues in the U.S., with special attention to California and issues of federalism.
  • Outcome 4: Compare and contrast civil rights and civil liberties of individuals as articulated in the U.S. Constitution and court decisions.
  • Outcome 5: Analyze the role of political culture, ideology, and diversity in shaping public opinion and public policy in the U.S., with special attention to California.
  • Outcome 6: Evaluate ways that individuals can effectively participate in politics at the national, state, county, and/or local levels.”
Find more details on this course in its official Course Outline of Record


It is through the study of American government and politics that students will gain a better understanding of key components of American government, politics, and society, including political parties and elections, foreign policies and wars, class, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexuality, dictatorship and democracy, political and social environments, culture and communication, production, consumption, and distribution, globalization and localism, centralization and decentralization, power and resistance, rights and responsibilities, in addition to philosophical and other political concerns. Todd Gitlin argues that we begin to learn exactly at that point where we enter “that difficult, rugged, sometimes impassable territory where arguments are made, points weighed, counters considered, contradictions faced, and where honest disputants have to consider the possibility of learning something that might change their minds”. Our classroom will be that territory.

Course Organization:
This course is designed to be more of a mosaic than a narrative. There are an infinite number of ways this (or any other) course could be designed, all of which would be subjective and incomplete. We will do our best, however, to learn a great deal about American government and politics and to make doing so interesting, useful, and fun. Therefore, at the end of the course, we may still not have “conclusions” or all of the “answers”, but we will certainly have a better understanding, and perhaps better questions, regarding American government and politics. In my opinion, as with any organization, school should be a “collaboratory”, and education should be a conspiracy, where people actively and cooperatively communicate and work together. We will strive to do so.

Course Objectives:
*    To become proficient with the field of Political Science and the sub-field of American Government/Politics;
*    To become proficient with some of the major facts, concepts, theories, and insights of American Government/Politics;
*    To better understand the U.S. political system and your role in it;
*    To improve your skills in critical thinking, oral presentation, and writing;
*    To develop, enhance, and apply your political knowledge!

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