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American Politics & Policy | Class Listing

APP offers a variety of Major courses, both required and elective.

The Government Core includes American Political Institutions, Political Science Research Methods, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.  APP’s Major-specific classes include:

State & Local Government

An introduction to the structures and functions of state and local government in the United States. The objective of the course is to give the student a working knowledge of the institutions and operations of state and local government, a better understanding of the theory of federalism and its practical implications, and an appreciation for the comparative differences and similarities between the various state and local governments.

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The Congress

A study of the legislative branch of the federal government, examining its history and development. Primary focus is placed on the leadership structure in Congress and the committee system, examining how they function to facilitate the legislative process.

The Presidency

An introduction to the structure and function of the American executive branch, the myths and realities of executive power, and the rhetorical environment of presidential politics. Students will study the executive branch from theoretical, historical, and practical perspectives, Special attention will be given to the character of executive power in America, the limits placed upon that power, and the rhetorical devices modern presidents have used to overcome those limits. Attention will also be given not only to the presidency but also to the bureaucracy, which is also a key component of the executive branch.


Campaigns & Elections

An introduction to political campaigning and the electoral process as it currently functions in the United States. Topics include campaign management, candidate and issue promotion, the role of campaigns in the electoral process, election polls, campaign finance laws and their implications, and the relevance of elections to governing. Students participate in campaign work as part of the course requirements.

Public Administration

An introduction to the study of public management and policy-making; providing insight and direction as to how best to influence the operations of public agencies. A thorough understanding of the workings of the bureaucracy is critical in order to effect positive change within the government. The course will introduce theories and scholarly literature of the field, and will encourage critical thinking, application, and evaluation of the processes of government operation. With a strong emphasis on ethics, the course will encourage the development of practical skills such as personal management, leadership, communication, delegation, motivation, and decision making.

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Principles of Policy Analysis

An introduction to the field of policy analysis as it is currently practiced in the United States. The objective of the course is to help the student become an effective producer and consumer of policy analysis. Special emphasis will will be placed on the role of social science research in the development of government policies and on the effective communication of policy proposals.

Ethics and Public Policy

This course introduces students to the often-conflicting ethical dimensions of contemporary public policy issues. Study topics are drawn from the most current public policy debates, including issues such as gun control, school choice, the environment, abortion, health care and international relations.


Education Policy & Politics

Students in this course study the impact of relevant education policy-making bodies such as local school boards, states, and federal agencies on current issues of education policy, including school violence, multiculturalism, gender equality, and school choice.

Practicum in American Politics and Policy

This is one way for students to fulfill their apprenticeship methodology requirements. The instructor will select a specific issue, policy, or political topic within the rubric of American politics. Students will be instructed on the fundamentals of the topic, and then will carry out an independent project applying the knowledge learned. Examples may include (1) examining a specific area of public policy, such as criminal justice, with students crafting an actual policy document on an issue relevant to that area of public policy; (2) instruction in public opinion polling with students carrying out a polling project on a particular issue.


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