Why should a high school student study US government? First, everyone in The United States will be thrust into the position of voter at the age of 18. Second, the growth of our national government has meant that the federal government reaches into more and more of our everyday decisions. Third, there are a variety of issues emanating from Washington DC and the state capitals every day. In order to not be swayed by every passing fad, it is crucial that students understand why our political institutions exist. Lastly, an educated citizenry is necessary to carry on good public discourse and maintain our republic.
The objective of this course is to introduce students to the principles behind the United States’ government and political institutions and to enable the students to interact with various viewpoints. Students will understand the historical development of our current political situation, analyze the political process, and describe how various political groups function today. The goal is for students to become familiar with public policies, our Constitutional underpinnings, and political behavior in our society. Students should then be able to appropriately apply their understanding to evaluate how just and appropriate various political actions are. The course will include engaging group discussions in the weekly live session.
Some weekly course concepts include:
– What is legitimate government and how did the Founders envision it?
– What different types of federalism have been debated and utilized in American government?
– The three branches of national government (their functions, original design and current practices)
– Political parties and their role in American government
– How does policy making occur? What is the role of the bureaucracy?
– The Constitution and the limits it places on government activities
– How does the media shape perceptions?
– America’s role in the world (past and present)
Students will have weekly homework assignments, which will reinforce and expand upon the classroom discussions. Regular assignments may include watching a video online, reading an article, or completing worksheets. There is an estimated 3-4 hours of work per week outside of the live class. Every class is recorded and I post the recording for viewing after each class. Therefore, students can catch up if they happen to miss the live session.
This course serves as a prerequisite for my AP US Government and Politics course.
Who should enroll?
This course is designed to fulfill the typical requirements of a high school government course.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Sound card and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
Students will receive comments and individualized feedback on their assignments via Canvas. Work will be graded, and student questions will be addressed, in a timely manner.