Fall 2020

Introduction to American Politics

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-219


Jonathan M. Obert (Section 01)


Political life in the United States is undergoing an historic transformation.  Growth in inequality and partisan polarization, changes in the global military and economic order, social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, new forms of protest and political contestation, demographic shifts, climate change and now a pandemic are creating opportunities for democratic renewal but also placing institutions under strain.  This is a team taught course with multiple members of the Department. This format allows the class to balance a shared exploration of key themes of US politics -- the founding and constitution of the nation, questions of legitimacy and development of American institutions, the role of gender, class, race and sexuality in American political life, and the position of the US in the world -- with more focused discussions of current events.
Each week will thus be organized into two distinct parts. First, all students will develop a basic understanding of American political institutions through online or pre-recorded lectures.  Second, smaller groups will engage in an interpersonal discussion over the material covered in the lecture but connected to specific issues.

Plenary meetings will take place Tuesdays online. Section meeting times, topics, instructors and format (online or hyflex) will vary. Students will sign up for both the plenary session and their preferred section. Students will also be polled to identify their second and third choices for sections. The department reserves the right to move students to different sections for balancing purposes. The department will do its best to accommodate students' top preferences.
Section 01 and 02: Protest and Violence in American Politics. Professor Obert. Section 03: The Role of White Supremacy in American Politics. Professor Wise. Section 04: The Rise of Democratic Disillusion. Online only, Professor Dumm. Section 05: American Exceptionalism and the Position of the US in the World. Professor Machala. Section 06: Democratic Backsliding in a Comparative Context. Professor Corrales. Section 07: Race and Policing in US Politics. Professor Bumiller.  

Fall Semester. Assistant Professor Obert and other Political Science Faculty Members.


2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020