The purpose of this course is to expose students to classic and contemporary studies of American politics in order to make them better able to understand the policy process, who is represented in it, how and why. The exposure gained and resulting insights should prove useful to both those students continuing on political science and those who choose other majors, yet have a role to play as U.S. citizens.
Often the academic study of American politics is broken up into narrow sub-fields with researchers (and classes) focused almost exclusively on voters and elections or government, with the latter often concentrating on one political institution, e.g. Congress or the Presidency.
By contrast, in this class we will bring materials from these diverse literatures bearing on representation and policymaking together to give students a holistic view of representation and the policy process in the contemporary U.S. Concerns about class, racial and gender disparities are incorporated in the readings. We will read scholarly articles and books; there is no textbook for this course. While the course is primarily focused on national policy-making, some topics covered, e.g. the discussion of “direct democracy” and the town meeting, elected judges and redistricting will connect to state and local politics as well.
No prerequisite or background in political science is formally required, but an introductory course in American politics will be helpful.