University of Vermont

UVM Course Directory

POLS 021 – American Political System

Credits: 3.00

Course Description: Institutions, processes, and problems of American government.

Section Description: Americans today demonstrate an extraordinary level of discontent (in some quarters, outright fury) at our government and public life. Some of these concerns relate to the economy, others to foreign policy, and others to the performance of specific institutions. Many critiques insist we need to ask the fundamental question of whether the American political system has actually failed. All this calls to mind that famous old mixed blessing – “May you live in interesting times” – and brings energy, even urgency, to the study of American politics. This course surveys ideas, institutions, and behavior in American politics, guided by four main thematic questions. First, what are the different forms and types of power that structure American politics and government? Second, to what degree do American political ideals and realities align or fail to align? Third, what are the key paradoxes in American politics, and are such paradoxes strengths or weaknesses of our political life? Fourth, what have been the essential changes in American government – and is our political history essentially a story of change, or resistance to change? The course also includes extended consideration of the nature of political rationality in our intensely partisan times. In addition to a conventional textbook, we’ll use an instructor-designed course-pack composed of readings drawn from history, law, and current affairs as well as the discipline of political science.

CRN: 14773

Section: C

Enrolled/Seats: 58/58

Days Time Location
TR 13:15 - 14:30 LAFAYETTE HALL L403

Instructor(s): Alec Ewald

Meeting Dates: 13 Jan 2020 - 01 May 2020