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UK PS 101 - SYLLABUS

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Political Science 101 (Section 002)American GovernmentSpring 2005Meeting times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 11 - 11:50 amLocation: #139 Chemistry/Physics BuildingCourse Page: http://www.uky.edu/~dsvoss/docs/ps101.htmInstructor: D. Stephen Voss (Steve)Office:1603 Patterson Office Tower (POT)Office Hours:Wednesdays 1 – 4 pmOffice Phone:(859) 257 - 4313Email:[email protected] Page:http://www.uky.edu/~dsvossAssistants:Adam Butz Kirill BuminOffice:1618 POT 1606 POTOffice Phone:(859) 257 - 7052 (859) 257 - 7051Office Hours:Tues & Thurs 10 - 11 amEmail:[email protected] [email protected] 101 is not a Civics class, in which you learn how to be a good citizen or how to get involved inpolitics. It is not a Social Studies class, in which you memorize details about the political process. It isnot a Current Events class, in which you study the personalities in government. It is not a PersuasiveSpeaking class, in which you debate hot policy issues or argue the virtues of popular candidates andpolitical parties. And it is certainly not a Church, in which you are told what is right and wrong with thehope that you will change your beliefs or actions.Rather, the purpose of PS 101 is to introduce you to the science of American politics – to teach youhow to think critically and analytically about the relationship between Americans and their government. Our goal will be to question why government works as it does and to trace the effects of the country’smethod of conducting public business. Because PS 101 is only an introductory course, and thereforemust skim rather quickly over a multitude of topics, your factual knowledge about particularcomponents of the political system certainly will not be complete by the end of the semester. Moreadvanced offerings in political science will provide you that depth, if you wish to achieve it.That being said, students who attend lecture regularly and do their best to stay up with the assignedreadings should leave the course with a much better understanding of(1) how the nation’s historical experience molds current events,(2) how the public communicates values, opinions, and attitudes to public officials, and(3) how political institutions shape the connection between policies and public demands.If you also pick up advice along the way about how to be a good political activist, or add to yourknowledge base of political trivia, or develop a firmer sense of what you believe – so much the better. But those insights go beyond the academic purpose of the course.Sources of Required Reading Material1.Morris P. Fiorina, Paul E. Peterson, and D. Stephen Voss. 2005. America’s NewDemocracy. New York: Penguin/Longman. Second edition election update. The maintext. You must have the second edition, but need not purchase the election update. Hereafterabbreviated as FPV.2.Anne G. Serow and Everett C. Ladd. 2003. The Lanahan Readings in the AmericanPolity. Baltimore, MD: Lanahan Publishers, Inc. Third edition. Essays and articlesused to look at topics in depth or to give detailed examples. Hereafter abbreviated as SL.Evaluation (computational weight of each assignment):! 23%: exam taken on February 14, during the scheduled 50-minute class! 23%: exam taken on March 28, during the scheduled 50-minute class! 24%: two response papers of 2-3 pages in length; due date determined by chosen topic! 30%: final examination on 4 May 2005, from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, in regular classroomDespite the enormous size of our class, none of the examinations in PS 101-002 will involve fill-in-the-bubble testing. Rather, all three exams ask open-ended questions and your answers will be gradedby a human being. The first two exams are non-cumulative – that is, they only include material from onethird of the course – and will consist of a mixture of short answer, identification, and multiple choicequestions. Even the multiple choice questions will be graded by hand, allowing you to explain youranswers if necessary. The final exam also will include a non-cumulative portion worth 23 percentagepoints of the course grade, offering the same mix of question formats covering material from the finalthird of the course. It adds a 7-point long essay question, though, which you must answer with materialdrawn from across the entire semester.A single form of evaluation is not sufficient to test true knowledge and effort. Thus, the exams are notthe only opportunity for you to receive direct feedback on your performance in the course. Rather, youwill be asked to sign up for two topics featured in the syllabus outline (e.g., Public Opinion, theJudiciary). You then will be responsible for writing a 2-3 page response to the readings assigned foreach topic you have chosen, either answering a question posted to the course Web page or answeringa question of your choice (if approved by Adam or Kirill). The papers, worth 12 points each (for atotal of 24% of your course grade), are due Monday before class on the day when the topic isscheduled to begin. Students also are encouraged to participate in class discussion, as opportunitiespermit, during the weeks for which they have signed up.Each assignment will be graded on a 10-point scale (in theory, A = 90-100, B = 80-89, C = 70-79,D = 60-69, E = 0-59). However, the examinations for the course are particularly rigorous, generallyproducing numerical averages far lower than found in other UK social science courses. Should thatoccur, final grades will be curved upward significantly before marks are reported to the registrar forinclusion on your transcript, so that they are representative of what you would find in comparablecourses at the institution (roughly 2.65 GPA with 1/5 of the class receiving an “A” grade). Becauseyour ultimate grade will depend on your relative performance, you are welcome to seek clarification onyour standing in the course at any time. Please note that students taking the course on a Pass/Fail basismust complete the final examination and receive a passing score in order to receive a grade of “P.”Because there will be no attempt to take attendance during class, you obviously are not forced toparticipate in, or even show up for, most meetings of PS 101 (the exceptions being testing days andperhaps days on which you have a response paper due). However, do not take this lack of hand-holding to mean that skipping class will have no serious consequences. Not all of the informationpresented in the


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