American Government Fall 2014 pols 1101A

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American Government

Fall 2014

POLS 1101A
Lynthia Ross Owens M,W 5:30pm – 6:45pm; AH E157

Email: Office Hours: By appointment Political Science Department: 706-737-1710

Cell Phone: 912-660-4841

Introduction: This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to American government and its various institutions, politics and the public policy process. The course will also incorporate a Citizen Action Project, through which students will be able to experience the impact of citizens on government.
Course Text:
Volkomer, Walter E. American Government. 14th Edition. Upper Saddle River:

Pearson Prentice Hall., 2012.


Grading Scale Grading Breakdown









416 and below


Short Writing (50 pts each)

100 points possible

Civic Engagement Activity

100 points possible


250 points possible


250 points possible

TOTAL 700 possible points

IMPORTANT: A major purpose in your taking this class is to meet the Georgia legislative requirement for competence in the U.S. and Georgia Constitution in order to graduate. Therefore, passing the Georgia Constitution test is required. Students who fail the test have failed the course and will be dropped from the course roll.
Class Policies:
Attendance: I will enforce the university’s policy. Specifically, absences beyond four classes will be considered excessive. Should you miss more than four, it is your responsibility to justify why you should not receive an “F” for failure to attend class. I will take attendance either at the beginning or end of class. It is your responsibility to make sure I know you are present.
Late Assignments: I will NOT accept late assignments unless you have discussed the matter with me in advance.
Tape Recording: I have no objection to recording my lectures. However, if there is a student who objects to having his or her comments recorded, recording must cease. No taping in lieu of note taking.
Eating and Drinking is not permitted in class.
Compliance with ADA: Any student with any sort of physical or learning disability should contact the Office of Disability Services in the Counseling and Testing Center for appropriate accommodation. The number is (706) 737-1471.
Cell Phones and Pagers should be set on silent or off before coming into class.

Course Schedule/ Outline
Dates Subject Assignment
August 18 Introduction
August 20-27 The Constitution Read Chapter 2

Read The Constitution

September 1 – Labor Day No Class
September 3 – No Class - Work on Short Writing Assignment or Civic Engagement Exercise
September 8 Federalism Read Chapter 3

September 10-15 The President Read Chapter 8

September 17-24 Congress Read Chapter 7

September 29 - October 1 The Judicial Branch Read Chapter 10

October 1 Short Writing Assignment #1 Due

October 6-8 The Bureaucracy Read Chapter 9

October 8 Midterm Exam
October 13 Midterm – Last Day to withdraw without “F”
October 13-15 Civil Liberties and Rights Read Chapter 11 and 12

Read the Constitutional Amendments

October 17 Fall Pause
October 20-22 Elections and Campaigns Read Chapter 6

October 27-29 Political Parties Read Chapter 5

October 21-25 Public Opinion Read Chapter 4

November 3-5 No Class – Work on Short Writing Assignment/ Civic Engagement
November 10 Elections and Campaigns/ Discussion
November 12 Civic Engagement Exercise Due
November 12 Interest Groups Read Chapter 5

November 17-19 Public Policy Read Chapter 13

November 18-22 Civil Rights Read Chapter 12

November 26 Thanksgiving Break
December 1 Final Exam Review
December 3 Final Exam

Civic Involvement Activity

An important component of this course is learning about citizen rights. With rights come responsibilities and the purpose of the citizen action project is to expose you to citizen responsibility and the impact of an engaged and involved citizenry in a community. Your activity should be an activity involving some type of volunteer service to a non profit organization or group or attending/ participating in a community meeting or group.

After completing your activity you should submit a 1-2 page paper that gives a brief explanation of your activity, the significance of your selection to you and the impact of government/ politics on the organization. Also, indicate the impact of involved citizenry on the organization or body. If this activity changed your perspective about a particular organization or group, that should also be included in your paper.

Some examples of civic activities are:

  • Public service and community participation (e.g. homeless services, environmental protection advocacy, service work with religious organizations, partisan political activities, government boards and commissions, neighborhood association, non-profit boards and commissions).

  • Volunteer for a community based or non-profit organization (e.g. United Way, Boys and Girls Club, a soup kitchen, community based arts organization)

Other activities or organizations are acceptable and can be used to satisfy this requirement. Consult me for approval.

The paper must be submitted by November 12, 2014.

Short Writing Assignment

Writing is a skill you’ll use throughout your college and professional career. In this course, you’ll complete two short writing assignments to help you with the application of critical thinking and creating logical arguments related to contemporary issues. In political science, there are many topics that may be of interest to you for many different reasons. I encourage you to review the syllabus and identify topics that are of particular interest to you and write on them. You might also welcome the challenge of selecting a topic of little or no interest to you and developing more knowledge of that subject.

Your paper should be 2-3 pages and can be in the format of an issue paper on a subject in the media, a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, a letter to one of your elected officials on a position they have taken or may be considering with an upcoming vote. Your paper/ letter should be constructed to support your position on the issue you’ve selected. Use data and “good” sources to support your positions.

The first assignment is due by October 1 and the last must be submitted by November 24.

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