POL 11: Introduction to Political Science
College Now – Bronx Community College – Fall 2012
Tuesday & Thursday – 4:00 to 6:00
What makes a good leader? How does American politics work? How are laws made? Do elections matter? Who should I vote for? These are important, and difficult, questions all Americans face, especially in a busy election year like 2012. This course, by introducing you to the academic discipline of political science, will help you begin to provide answers to those critical questions. By studying the history and ideas behind American politics, the structure of American government, and how public policy (laws) are made in the United States, this course will provide students with the tools to navigate the tricky waters of this very contested election year. As part of the College Now program this course will also provide students with an introduction to the college experience and college course work by promoting students’ critical thinking, writing, and reading skills.
By the end of this course every student should:
- Have a basic understanding the methodology and insights of political science.
- Have a basic understanding of American government and how public policy is made.
- Have improved their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills.
- Have a basic understanding of the college experience (academic and personal) and the expectations of college coursework.
The following next is REQUIRED:
- Walter E. Volkomer, American Government, 12th Edition (New York, NY, Pearson, 2008)
All textbooks are property of the College Now program and must be returned at the end of the course.
Assignments & Grading
Your final grade will be calculated from the following breakdown:
- 25% – Midterm Examination
- 25% – Final Examination
- 25% – Election Analysis Paper
- 15% – Election Newspaper Assignment
- 10% – Class Participation
For each class meeting students will be expected to have read or watched all assigned material (sections of the textbook, primary source readings, etc.) be fully prepared for discussion. Such class discussion makes up an important part of students’ class participation grade.
In addition, students are expected to have completed – before class – any short writing assignments or homework assigned for the class meeting. Such assignments are due at the very beginning of class.
Election Newspaper Assignment
Every Thursday until after the 2012 election students are to bring to class an article about the election from either a reputable newspaper (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc.) or newsmagazine (Time, Newsweek, The New Republic, etc.). On every Thursday after the election, students are to bring to class an article about the post-election plans of either President Obama or President-elect Romney. Students are to bring in TWO copies of their article. One copy is to be handed in to the professor and the other for themselves.
Students are to have read and be ready to discuss their article every week. Each student must have their own unique article. They cannot have the same article as another student in the class.
Election Analysis Paper
Students will write a five to seven page paper reflecting on the 2012 election. Students have TWO choices as to the topic of their paper. They may EITHER write a paper discussing why either President Obama was reelected or Governor Romney was elected to the Presidency OR what President Obama or President-elect Romney plan to do in their upcoming term of office. The source material for this paper is to be largely drawn from their weekly election newspaper assignment (discussed above) and class lectures and discussions.
A more detailed prompt for this assignment will be provided in the third week of the semester.
Attendance is required for every class meeting. Attendance will be taken during each class meeting to ensure this. If a student needs to miss class, the instructor must be notified in advance (in case of emergencies, before the following class meeting). To encourage attendance, students who miss no more than three (or fewer) classes will receive an additional five points on their final grade.
There will be midterm and a final examination. The midterm will cover material from the first half of the semester. The final will cover material from the second half of the semester. One week before each examination, a brief study guide will be handed out in class and made available on the course website.
Extra credit assignments will be given for the mid-term and the final examination. These assignments will provide up to two additional points on the exams. Details of the assignments will be handed out one to two weeks before the exam.
Occasionally (and at the instructor’s discretion) other assignments for extra credit will be made available. This will usually consist of attendance at, and brief reports on, lectures and other cultural events relating to American history.
In order to ensure that this class is a successful space for learning and critical dialogue, the following polices are in affect.
- Plagiarism and academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Any assignment (even in part) found to be plagiarized will be marked as a failure (zero points). A second instance of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. If students have ANY questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please come see (or e-mail) the instructor. Additional information about plagiarism can be found on the course website.
- All work must be turned in to the instructor via hardcopy by the beginning of the class period on the date in which it is due (see schedule, below). Assignments will NOT be accepted via e-mail, except in cases of emergency – in which students cannot make it class. Any late work will lose 5 points for every calendar day in which it is late.
- There is no such thing as a stupid question. If a student is confused or unclear about any topic under discussion, please raise your hand and ask a question or come see the instructor after class.
- Sexist, racist, or homophobic comments will not be tolerated in the classroom.
- If you have a learning disability, please come see the instructor before or after class. Any and all disabilities can be accommodated if the student informs the instructor in a timely manner.
- Students with family, work, legal, or financial issues that may affect their attendance or class performance should come speak to the instructor as soon as possible, to see if arrangements can be made.
- Drinking beverages is welcome in class, but please no eating.