U.S. Government

Honors Section Available: Yes

Brief Course Description:

This course is designed to prepare students for the study of government by providing a detailed treatment of the Constitution, its historical underpinnings, interpretation, and application to the institutions of government. The course also examines the institutions of government, the political processes and the role of political parties, organized groups and the media play in influencing public opinion, voting behavior and public policy in America. This course teaches an analytical perspective to government and politics in the United States through both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies.

Course Goals and/or Major Student Outcomes:

  • Acquire a through and systematic comprehension of United States government, politics, and the political process.
  • Develop the ability to think critically and analyze issues relating to US government.
  • Become aware of and value culturally diverse people and exhibit sensitivity to all individuals.
  • Instill the responsibility to participate in the political process by exercising ones right to vote in a democratic nation.
  • Prepare students for university level courses in Political Science and Law.

Course Objectives:

  • Students will prepare daily written assignments from the text or prepared reading material to lean factual information relating to US government.
  • Students will develop arguments for debate on issues ruled on by the Supreme Court regarding the first amendment freedoms.
  • Students will write essays analyzing the issues before and compromises mad by the Framers of the Constitution as they wrote this document.

Key Assignments:

Free response essays covering a wide variety of subjects and concepts relative to the student’s understanding of the Constitution its formation underlying philosophical rots and interpretation. Free responses in-depth research papers on federalism and serration of powers the political process institutions of government civil liberties vis-à-vis civil rights, equal protection and due process interest groups public opinion and political action groups, elections and voting behavior. Two quarterly and one final exam will be administered to assess the student’s understanding of the concepts, factors and processes that are inherent to US government. Quizzes are given at the end of each chapter.

Students are required to write an in-depth case brief and give a comprehensive oral presentation on major Supreme Court case involving a significant Constitutional issue, and how to case decision impacts society today. Similar Research projects will focus on an organized group and a government agency. Daily homework in required in the form of reading and written responses to end of chapter questions.

Prerequisites:
Honors—U.S. History, English competency, teacher recommendation, 87%+ grade average in preceding history course, Transfer students 3.5 GPA. Regular—U.S. History, English competency.

How the honors course is different from the standard course:

Honors level students are required in addition to the standard course material to write two additional free response essays, and an assigned research paper. The essays are:

  1. Write a comprehensive essay, three to five pages single-spaced, on the interacting, influence and strategies of the four institutions of government.
  2. Write an expository three to five page essay single spaced on a subject of your choice relating to a major aspect of the course material. Topic must be submitted in writing to course instructor for approval.
  3. Research the evolution of the civil rights case law and legislation from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bakke v. University of California Board of Regents. In your research paper include all the significant events and personalities as they relate to the development of the case law. Paper must be five to seven pages single-spaced.

Papers will be grade on the basis of content, mechanics, analytical thought and must evidence a thorough understanding of the relationship of events and people and how they interrelate.

Honors level students will also answer an honors section on each exam and quiz that reflects understanding and analysis of 20% additional course material. Honors students are graded on analysis, interpretation, and application of course material that demonstrates critical thinking skills at a significantly higher level than that required of non-honors level students.

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