POL S 202 A: Introduction to American Politics

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:00pm - 2:10pm
* *
Chelsea Moore

Syllabus Description:

POLS 202: Introduction to American Politics


Summer 2021, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12pm – 2:10pm


Class Zoom:  https://washington.zoom.us/j/99555965841


Office Hours by appointment


Email: mooreche@uw.edu


Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to the structure of the United States government and the ideals underwriting that structure. We begin by unpacking the foundational role of slavery and settler colonialism in the making of the American state before exploring the political ideals and structures underwriting the founding. The bulk of this course is devoted to understanding the interplay between the legislature, presidency, judiciary, and an increasingly diverse electorate, as well as our decentralized electoral systems, political parties, interest groups, media, and social movements. 


Required Text

The Enduring Debate: Classic and Contemporary Readings in American Politics, 6th Edition, by Cannon, Coleman, & Mayer


Requirements & Assessment:

Take Home Midterm Exam (30%) DUE July 29th


Reading Questions (15%)

You will sign up for one week where you are responsible for bringing 3 discussion questions to class. The discussion questions should be open ended questions that will spark an interesting discussion in the class. At least one of the questions should engage current events as they relate to the readings. During your week, you will be responsible for running the first part of class discussion around the readings. After class, submit upload your discussion questions to Canvas under the Assignments tab. 


Zine/Public Information Campaign (35%) DUE August 20th at 11:59pm

Your final project will be a public information campaign of your choice. This can take many forms such as a Zine, a presentation, a podcast, a multi-prong social media campaign, a manifesto.


Participation (20%)


Reading Schedule

*Asterisked readings available on Canvas all other readings are from the Enduring Debate


Week 1: Settler Colonialism & Slavery

Tuesday, June 22nd


Thursday, June 24th

  • * Piccard, “Death by Boarding School.”

    • Reading Questions: Anna


Week 2: Political Culture and the Founding  

Tuesday, June 29th

  • Ch 1

    • Hartz, “The Liberal Tradition in America”
    • Smith, “Beyond Tocqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz”
    • Elazar, “The Three Political Cultures”
    • Reading Questions: Walter


Thursday, July 1st

  • *Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution
  • Ch 2
    • Kammen, “The Nature of American Constitutionalism”
    • Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
    • Reading Questions: Min


Week 3: Federalism


Tuesday, July 6th

  • Ch. 3

    • Madison, Federalist No. 46
    • Peterson, The Price of Federalism
    • Annas, “California’s Medical-Marijuana”


Thursday, July 8th

  • *Miller, “The Invisible Black Victim”
  • Reading Questions: William 


Week 4: Congress & Representation

 Tuesday, July 13th

  • Ch 5

    • Burke, “Speech to the Electors of Bristol”
    • Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection
    • Hibbing and Theiss-Morse, “Too Much of a Good Thing”
    • Reading Questions: Tajanee & Yoshi 


Thursday, July 15th

  • *Gilens and Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics”
  • Reading Questions: Claire & Kaycie


Week 5: The Presidency

Tuesday, July 20th

  • Ch 6

    • Neustadt, “The Power to Persuade”
    • Jones, “Perspectives on the Presidency”
    • Reading Questions: Brisa & Saida


Thursday, July 22nd

  • *Skowronek, Presidential Leadership in Political Time, Ch 2
  • Reading Questions: Leslie & Kayley


Week 6: The Judiciary

Tuesday, July 27th

  • Ch 8

    • Hamilton, The Federalist No. 78
    • O’Brien, “The Court and American Life”
  • *Rosenberg, The Hollow Hope
  • Reading Questions: Harrison


Thursday, July 29th

  • No Class (Midterm Due)


Week 7: The Judiciary cont. + Public Policy  

 Tuesday, August 3rd

  • * Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, 3
  • Reading Questions: Aviva


Thursday, August 5th

  • *Schneider & Ingram, “Social Construction of Target Populations”
  • Reading Questions: Raleigh


Week 8:  Civil Rights & Social Movements

 Tuesday, August 10th

  • Ch 4

    • MLK, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
    • *Malcom X, “The Ballot or the Bullet”
    • Reading Questions: Captain


Thursday, August 12th

  • *Hooker, “Black Lives Matter and the Paradoxes of U.S. Black Politics: From Democratic Sacrifice to Democratic


 Week 9: Review

Tuesday, August 17th

  • Final Presentations


Thursday, August 19th

  • Final Presentations




Graded work assessment:

Written work in the A (3.5-4.0) range is characterized by a strikingly perceptive, persuasive, and creative analytical claim; comprehensive synthesis and analysis of the course material; straightforward yet sophisticated organization of thoughts and error-free prose. Written work in the B (2.5-3.4) range is characterized by sound, original, and reasonably thoughtful argument/thesis statement; competent analysis of various course material, logical organization; and clear and error-free prose. Written work in the C (1.5-2.4) range is characterized by a relatively underdeveloped, simplistic, or derivative argument/thesis statement; partial, inconsistent, or faulty analysis of course material; convoluted organization; and awkward, imprecise, or otherwise distracting prose. Written work in the D (0.7-2.3) range is characterized by incoherent or extremely confusing argument; superficial or fleeting engagement with the course material; chaotic or irrational organization; and error-riddled prose. Written work that lacks any argument or analysis and is unorganized earns a failing grade.


My aim is to give every student a fair grade that reflects their understanding of, and engagement with, the course material and course participation. If you feel that you have been graded unfairly on a paper, I am happy to meet with you to discuss it. The grade appeals policy is as follows:


  1. Carefully read and re-read comments
  2. After 24 hours, re-read comments
  3. Write a memo that details why you believe there is a grading error. You must initiate this meeting within one week of receiving your grading assignment. At that time and after meeting I may re-grade your paper. Note that your grade may increase or


Late work policy:

We're in the middle of a global pandemic so you will be extended a lot of grace. Just reach out to me ASAP if something comes up so we can work it out together. 


Academic dishonesty:

University policies and guidelines regarding cheating and plagiarism can be found at https://depts.washington.edu/grading/pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf (Links to an external site.)


Student Resources


Disability and accommodations

Students needing academic accommodations for a disability should contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz Hall, V: (206) 543-8924, TTY: (206) 543-8925, uwdss@u.washington.edu. If you have a letter from Disability Resources for Students documenting the need for academic accommodations, please present this letter to the instructor so that accommodations can be discussed and arranged.


Academic resources

The LSJ, POLS and Jackson School Writing Center (http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/ (Links to an external site.)) and the Odegaard Writing & Research Center (http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/ (Links to an external site.)) are excellent resources available to you for written work. I encourage you to make appointments with writing center tutors to work on your research paper.


Undocumented students

I support undocumented students. Leadership Without Borders (206-543-4635), which is staffed by undocumented students and staff, and the UW Dream Project (206-616-5791) are excellent resources.


Respect in the classroom

This course involves material and experiences that are deeply personal, political, and emotionally charged. While spirited debate is encouraged and expected, discussion must remain respectful and supportive at all times. In order to learn together we must learn from each other, and thus every voice is important in our conversation. I invite students to approach course material with a sense of openness – that is, to let material, themes, concepts, and questions we raise in class to challenge your sense of reality and, at the same time submit what you read and discuss in class to thoughtful skepticism and critique.


Catalog Description: 
Institutions and politics in the American political system. Ways of thinking about how significant problems, crises, and conflicts of American society are resolved politically. Offered: AWSpS.
Department Requirements: 
Introductory Courses
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
April 14, 2021 - 10:59pm