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Fall 2023 Electives

Constitutional Law

In this course, we will examine one of the most important documents in American history – our Constitution. Course topics will include the historical background of the document from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. We will look at the creation of the Constitution, including the conflict between strong supporters of this proposed new Constitution (Federalists) and their opponents (Anti-Federalists). How did the Founders resolve their differences and what led the States to adopt a document limiting and balancing the powers of the President, Congress, and the Judiciary? We shall look at the constant tension (from the beginning to the present) over the balance of power between the three co-equal branches. We shall discuss the role of the Constitution from both empirical and theoretical perspectives and look at how it has evolved from 1788 to the present day. Special attention will be paid to the use of Amendments, particularly the Bill of Rights, to address events/circumstances unforeseen by the drafters. Finally, the course will discuss critical cases where the Supreme Court defined and redefined what the Constitution meant.

Being Native in the 21st Century: American Indian & Alaska Native Politics, History, and Policy

  • PUBPOL 3020/5020; AMST 3024; GOVT 3051/6051
  • 4 credits
  • Nicholas Courtney
  • Wednesday, 6:30–9:50 p.m.

The course examines the historical political landscape of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. and the interplay between tribal interests, politics, and the federal government. The course also looks at contemporary Native issues, federal policy and programs, tribal governance, relations between Tribal Nations and states and between Tribal Nations and the federal government. Finally, the course will explore Indigenous pop-culture and its influence on federal policy.

Political Journalism

  • PUBPOL 3140/5140; AMST 3145; ENGL 3941; GOVT 3221; COMM 3140;
  • 4 credits
  • Jodi Enda
  • Monday, 6:30–9:50 p.m.

This course will explore the traditional dynamic and norms of political press coverage in the United States, and the impact of those patterns on both the government and the nation; some of the ways longstanding norms have recently shifted, and continue to shift; the larger historical forces and long-term trends driving those changes; and the theoretical questions, logistical challenges and ethical dilemmas these changes pose for both political journalists and those they cover. The course will equally cover the practice of political reporting, including weekly analysis and discussion of current press coverage, in-class exercises and simulations, readings from academic and journalistic sources, and visits from leading political reporters and former spokespeople able to offer a firsthand perspective on the topics.

Seminar on American Relations with China

  • HIST 3391; CAPS 3000; ASIAN STUDIES 3305
  • 4 credits
  • Jason Oaks
  • Thursday, 4:30pm-7:20pm

A historical review of the fragile and volatile U.S.–China relationship from the opening by Richard Nixon in the early 1970’s until the present. Several individual sessions will be led by current or former executive branch or congressional officials, business people, journalists, representatives of non-governmental organizations and others who have worked in China or have participated in the making of U.S. policy toward China. Enrollment limited to CAPS participants.

United We Stand – Divided We Fall: The Rise of Polarization and Social Division – and What it Means for America’s Future

  • PUBPOL 3510/5510
  • 4 credits
  • Mary Cheney
  • Tuesday, 6:30pm-9:50pm

In this course, we will examine political, social, and cultural trends over the last 50 years – how they have helped create our current political climate and how they could impact the future of the United States. Course topics will include in-depth study of the intentional, as well as the unintentional, impact of specific events and trends (the 2000 Presidential election, the growth of social media, and the rise of talk radio) as well as the role played by specific individuals (Newt Gingrich) in the rise of polarization and social division in the United States. Special attention will be paid to understanding how trends in one area can influence and drive changes in others as well as to discussion of the question of whether these trends can, or should, be altered. Students will be encouraged to examine issues from a wide range of perspectives, not just the ones they agree with, and will be challenged to develop their recommendations for how, and if, America’s divisions can be healed.