Syllabus - St. Charles Community College

POL 101- 08 & 09
American Government
FALL 2014 (updated 8/14)
Paul Roesler,
Professor of Political Science
OFFICE Hours: SSB 1104
Tues 1- 2:30; Wed: 1-2pm; Thurs: 12-2:30
[email protected]
*Email is my preferred method of contact outside of my office hours. I check my [email protected]
regularly. If you need to get a hold of me, contact the Office Coordinator (Margaret) at 636-922-8398
Course Description & Objectives
Upon Completion of this course you should be able to:
describe the workings of the various political, social and economic institutions in the US
explain how social, economic and political forces interact to shape US policies
describe and discuss the relationship between citizens and government in the US
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of government in the United States. Upon finishing
the course, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the institutional and theoretical bases of
American Government. We will analyze several fundamental aspects of our democracy: the Constitution
and the three branches of government, federalism, civil rights and liberties, interest groups, public opinion,
political parties and the electoral system.
The written assignments and exams will allow students to demonstrate understanding of the workings of
these political institutions and how various personalities and forces interact with them to shape policies.
Furthermore, this class should improve your analytical skills. It should improve your awareness and
comprehension of the issues of the day and heighten your interest in such issues by making them relevant
and interesting. Understanding how our society works will allow you to better understand and discuss the
news with friends and coworkers. In other words, this class aims to help you be a fully active citizen by
improving your awareness of "who gets what, when and how" in American politics.
Required Text
1. Harrison & Harris: American Democracy Now 3rd Edition. You can also rent an
online textbook here:
 Note: there may be a paperback “Create” version of the text available for less $ –
contact the bookstore for more info
Information in this syllabus can (and will likely) change
-- regularly check Canvas for updates
Be sure to go to my website ( for study guides,
other readings, extra credit opportunities, updates, and other information
Turn off all cell phones upon entering any class (ESPECIALLY exams)
Reading Material on Reserve at SCC library:
“Kissing the Whip,” pp 311-315 of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. By Greg Palast
As an option, you can read the entire chapter online using the link on my study guide
(which is a slightly different version, but covers the important mining incident)
Missouri Voters Handbook , 11th edition. By The League of Women Voters
--this is for the Missouri Government Quiz due at the end of the semester
Other Videos & Readings for the Course
There are many outside clips & readings in this course; some are required and other are optional.
Many of them are silly, but they are designed to give you a better understanding of the topic. Exam
& quiz questions will only come from videos that are specifically addressed in the study guide
The Federalist Papers #10 and #51are in the Appendix of text –for helpful links, see my
Structure of the Course -- Canvas
You MUST use Canvas to take quizzes and submit papers and extra credit. Furthermore, the Canvas
Discussion board will also allow you to ask questions (which your fellow students may answer). Remember
to be courteous in your posts/replies.
I am not an expert on Canvas. For help with technology, call the helpdesk at 636-922-8555.
Also, please note that Canvas is new. Please be patient if/when I have trouble knowing how to use
it (or even refer to it as “Moodle”).
Graded Papers and Exams will be returned as soon as practical, normally in about a week. Please do
not send requests for grades until a full week AFTER the due date. I appreciate your eagerness to get
your grade, but the more time I spend answering emails the less time I have to grade. Also, be sure to
check the Discussion Board for updates on assignments and quizzes. If you don’t take the exam at the
scheduled times or don’t submit your assignment properly (or on-time), then expect a delay in grading. All
papers/assignments must be submitted in Canvas and will be graded on spelling and grammar.
A. On-campus Final Exam – bring a photo ID with you when you take the exam
There will be an on-campus final exam worth approximately 150 points. The exam will consist of
approximately 75 multiple choice questions worth 2 pts each & 4-5 short essays worth (5-10 points
each). The essays are worth about 30 points, but will only be graded if you are close to the next higher
grade and can only help your grade.
I allow make-up exams if you arrange it within a week of the exam date; however, the format is
subject to my discretion. If you miss the exam, let me know promptly. If I allow you to make up the
exam, I will send it to the Assessment Center. Call them at 636-922-8249 to determine their hours.
B. Online Quizzes & Midterm
There will be quizzes on Canvas, consisting of both multiple choice & short essay questions. Each
quiz will cover one chapter in the text and will be worth, typically worth 10-20 points. These quizzes
are NOT easy and are TIMED, so they require you to study in advance. I urge you to take the practice
quizzes in the back of the text and/or on the “Connect” website before taking the “real” one. The short
essay questions typically come from the chapter study guides, so be sure to study them, as well!
Quizzes MUST be completed by the deadline, so take them early to avoid last-minute problems. If
you need more time to study for a quiz, ask me a few days before the deadline and I may extend the
deadline. There will be NO after-the-fact make-up quizzes. You are allowed to miss up to50 points
of quizzes. Your final exam score will be weighted appropriately to make up the missed points. In
other words, if you miss a 20 point quiz and get an 85% on the multiple choice section of the final
exam, you will be awarded 17 points (85%) for that missed quiz.
If you miss the midterm, 30 of the points will go towards your “missed quiz” max of 50 and the other
half will be made up by a make-up online essay exam, a paper or other assignment I choose.
I do not release your scores on the quizzes until the deadline to take them has passed. You will be able
to see your answer and whether or not it was correct. I do this for pedagogical reasons: I want you to at
least to find the answers yourselves. If you need help finding an answer, please ask.
Quizzes are usually due around 11 pm & typically cover the material on the study guide
webpage AND the practice quizzes at the end of each chapter in the text
C Missouri Government Quiz
There will be a 15-point online Missouri Government Quiz due near the end of the semester. You will
need the Missouri Voters’ Guide, on reserve in the SCC library, to find the answers. Unlike the
chapter quizzes, you do not have to “study” before you take this quiz; just be sure to have the Missouri
Voters Guide (on reserve in the SCC Library; published by the League of Women Voters) in front of
you and use it as a reference during the quiz.
D. Participation -- Responses to Questions of the Week (20 points total)
At least once every unit/chapter, I will have opportunities for students to answer a “Question of the
Week” (QW). There will be about 20 questions total. You must respond to TWO (2) during the course
of the semester in a detailed, thoughtful manner. To respond, you should “reply” to the QW you are
answering so that all responses can be seen together (do not send it in an email or create another post).
You will be graded on the quality of your answers, so make sure you read the relevant material
before you attempt to answer the question. This is your chance to “participate” in a group discussion
of some important issues.
The QWs are due at the same time as the related quiz. Since many of these questions are directly
related to the quizzes (and often come from the study guide), answer them thoroughly for the benefit of
those students who do NOT answer that question. You all will essentially be helping each other study,
so be sure to read other students’ responses. I will grade your responses like an assignment – typically
within one week of the related quiz due date.
PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENT (for Pell Grant recipients)
To be an “active” participant in this class, you must complete all assignments & quizzes (including
the short essay parts of the quizzes); missing two (2) quizzes in a row will result in being declared
“not participating”
E. Assignments –overview of the written assignments for this class
Check Canvas for the required materials (such as clips) for these assignments.
ALL assignments MUST be submitted using Canvas (through the assignment link in the respective
unit). Do NOT ATTACH files to an email – if you have trouble with Canvas, you may copy and paste
the assignment into the body of a Canvas email.
If you need a quick response (have a question about an assignment, for example), be sure to put “Help”
as the first part of the subject email. I do not begin grading the assignments until after the deadline, so
be sure to clearly mark “help” in the heading/title of any email asking for help so I read it promptly. I
try to get all assignments graded within a week of the due date.
1. Syllabus Quiz - 3 points
During the first week of class, take the short “syllabus quiz.”
2. Locke/Harvard Justice Project: consent, natural rights & taxing property (10 points)
Due with the Chapter 1 quiz; About one page (250 words):
Watch Episode 4 of the Harvard Justice Project, focusing on the following parts:
 from 28:00 to 41:00 -- Locke on leaving the state of nature & collective consent
 from 47:00 to 51:45 -- Locke’s ideas on what legitimate government can’t do
a. Explain why people want to leave the “state of nature.”
b. Discuss Locke’s argument regarding collective consent – specifically, why can the
government make us pay taxes (or be drafted) even if we don’t want to pay them?
c. According to Locke, what can't legitimate democratic governments do (pay attention to
the section around 47-51 minutes)? Be sure to give examples from the clip.
This is a difficult assignment, so I’ve kept the point value fairly low. Try your best to answer
the question as thoroughly as you can. Hint: watch the chapter 1 lecture to get a taste of Locke’s
argument if you have trouble understanding it.
Assignment goal: improve your understanding of the Framer’s views of democracy & consent
3. Free Press Assignment (15 points) – due with Chapter 4 quiz
1-2 pages (300-500 words) -- Read the assigned pages from Greg Palast’s book about the
mining incident (on reserve in the library or online from my webpage) and the text’s
discussion of the first amendment.
 Using examples from the Palast reading, compare the burden of proof in
defamation/libel laws between the US and UK. You need to first explain the burden
of proof for defamation in the US (giving examples from the text) and then contrast
that to Palast’s story on the mining incident and the burden of proof in the UK.
 Based on this reading, explain the importance of the First Amendment in ensuring an
informed citizenry.
Assignment Goal: improve your understanding of the impact of the First Amendment
4. Blog (current events) assignment: use
Due by the Midterm -- (10 points; about 1page):
Note: not all blog posts will relate to this class.
In my blog, find a post from the last few months that relates to this class.
Post this assignment in the BLOG Discussion Board (where other students can see). Be sure
to include the title and web address of the article at the beginning of your post. Do not
write about an article if someone else in the class has done so. There are literally
hundreds of article to choose from.
Write a brief (200-300 word) summary of the article(s) in the post, including the main
point(s) of the article. Explain the tone of the article (i.e. does it simply state facts or does
the author make a point or have a message/point of view). If the author is making a point, do
you agree with it? If the article/clip is a comedic look/spoof of an issue, be sure to
research & explain the issue it is making fun of – include your other sources in the post.)
Finally, explain how the article relates to this class (specifically, which chapter/lecture).
Assignment Goal: improve your understanding of a current issue facing our society as well as
improving your ability to distinguish bias and point of view
5. Electoral Variations – 20 points; due with Chapter 12 quiz; 2 pages (500 words).
a. Listen to the audio clip on Canvas (or on my website) & explain how the Electoral College
works today (specifically, explain the number and selection of electors and how they vote).
b. Type a brief synopsis of at least 3 OTHER plans (besides ours) discussed in the audio clip and
how and why the 2000 election results would be the same or different under each plan.
c. Go to either or Pretend you are an advisor to EITHER
Romney or Obama and list two states you would campaign in fiercely and two states you
would ignore. How does our winner-take-all‖ system explain this approach to campaigning?
Using the audio clip’s examples of different outcomes with different methods of counting
the votes, explain the importance of “how” in Lasswell‘s definition of politics?
Assignment goal: improve your understanding of how the Electoral College works as well as the
importance of process (“how” things happen can affect the outcome)
Grading Scale:
A = 90%+
B = 80%+
C = 70%+
D = 60%+
If you need help with anything technological, like Canvas, please contact the SCC Helpdesk at
636-922-8555. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the class. I check my
[email protected] email more frequently than Canvas, so use that email if you need a faster
response. Be sure to put “help” in the subject line to ensure the quickest response.
I try to return e-mails within 1-2 workdays after receiving them. However, this may not always be
possible. For urgent messages (that cannot wait a day or two), contact the office coordinator
(Margaret O’Dea at 636-922-8398). She will contact me to relay your message.
Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty will NOT be tolerated in this class. Any person cheating or aiding others to cheat
will receive a '0' on the assignment in question and possibly fail the entire course, at my discretion.
Plagiarism is a form of cheating and will not be tolerated (if you use outside information, be sure to cite
properly). Students will adhere to a personal honor code whereby they promise to do their own work.
How to Succeed in this Course
1. Read the book & other assigned readings/clips! To succeed in this course, you need to spend
considerable time reviewing the text, online lectures, videos, and other assigned information.
2. Turn in the assignments ON TIME! I usually accept late assignments (but NOT quizzes & exams) if
turned in within two weeks of the deadline. However, you lose points the later it is.
3. Do NOT fall behind: this class goes quickly, especially the 2nd half of the semester. I go slower in the
first half because the material is a little more difficult, but the pace picks up quickly after the midterm.
4. Do extra credit. There are quite a few points available (up to ½ a letter grade). Sometimes I
(unintentionally) write questions that are not clear, so this is my way of giving you points for missing
those questions. It also helps you make up for one or two bad quiz scores caused by power outage or
other unforeseen event. Go to for more
5. Watch the Online Lectures:
 I have posted a series of online lectures (using Flash) on my website.
 Online students MUST view/listen to them -- they help explain some topics not covered in
the text or some of the more confusing aspects of the class.
 My on-campus students may want to watch them if they missed the in-class lecture.
6. Ask for help. Students needing extra help with ANY aspect of the course material are encouraged to ask
for it. My goal is for all of you to succeed, and most students who put in the effort and ask for help
7. Check the study guide page on my website regularly to make sure you have the latest (and mosthelpful version). I often update/clarify my questions in response to student questions/concerns. I am
available to meet students in my office, but please make arrangements to meet with me beforehand.
The study guide is an important resource. You should at a minimum review the study guide
questions for each chapter BEFORE taking the chapter quiz. My goal is that all the questions on the
quizzes stem from the study guide and/or the textbook practice quizzes.
8. Finally, make use of available resources. I make an effort to include some questions on each quiz
from the textbook practice quizzes (at the end of each chapter). For more practice, the text website for
the 2nd edition: has
questions that will help measure understanding. Remember, this class uses the 3rd edition of the text.
Syllabus Addendum
Social Sciences - Fall 2014
Last day to change from credit to audit or audit to credit:
September 12
Last day to drop and receive a “W”:
October 24
Attendance: You should attend all class meetings for classes in which you are enrolled.
The college has no plan of recognized class ‘cuts’ or absences. You should attend all class meetings in
which you are enrolled. Excessive absence may be sufficient cause to fail the course. For distance classes,
“attendance” will be defined as active participation in the course as described in the individual course
syllabus. The final decision as to what constitutes excessive absence from a class is left to the instructor
and will be outlined in the course syllabus. Students should discuss any absences with their instructor.
Campus Closings: For up-to-date information on closings due to inclement weather or other emergencies,
call 636-922-8000, log on to, Twitter, receive a text (if you signed up), or
Graded Papers and Exams: Graded papers and exams will be returned to students as soon as is
reasonably practical. Normally this will be within one week, but could be longer in unusual circumstances.
Instructional Goals: This class will provide an environment where the College’s goals for students in the
areas of Critical Thinking, Writing Across the Curriculum, and Computer Literacy are practiced. These will
be utilized in a variety of ways throughout the course.
Students with special needs: We all have various channels through which we learn best. The College has
an Office of Accessibility Services that guides, counsels, and assists students with disabilities. It is located
in Room 133 of the Student Center. It is your responsibility to discuss with the instructor during the first
week of class anything needed to help you succeed. If you have special needs, please call Pam Bova (636922-8247) in the Office of Accessibility Services so that your eligibility for services can be determined.
Safety Consideration after Night Classes: It is highly recommended that students park in the same
designated lot, to be agreed upon the first night class, and walk out together as a group when class is over.
Although any students who wish to contact campus security to walk them to their car may do so.
Mental Health Counseling: The college years can be a time of growth and development as well as a time
of challenges and stress. Students may experience that stress in many different ways.
St. Charles Community College offers the opportunity to address your concerns with a FREE mental health
counselor on campus. SCC has a well-trained professional to help with a wide range of concerns common
to college students including anxiety, eating concerns, alcohol/drug issues, relationship concerns, academic
stress, suicidal thoughts, sexual and LGBT concerns.
We are committed to providing high quality care guided by the SCC mission of serving our community by
focusing on academic excellence, student success, workforce advancement, and life-long learning within a
global society. We celebrate diversity and we enrich the economic and cultural vitality of the region by
providing an accessible, comprehensive, and supportive environment for teaching and learning.
Our mental health counselor will offer short-term counseling, community support and referrals. Sometimes
a student may require care beyond the scope of our counseling center and in these situations students will
be assisted with establishing care off campus.
Length of counseling varies. Some problems are resolved within one or two sessions. Other problems may
require meeting more often. This will be determined by you and your counselor.
Please contact the mental health counselor, Christy Jackson at 636-922-8571 or [email protected] to set
an appointment. Office location for summer 2014 is ADM 1204. Beginning fall 2014 location is ADM
1242. Appointments may also be made by calling Teresa Drury at 636-922-8536 or [email protected]
Any faculty, staff, or student may submit a report to the Behavioral Intervention Team at or by calling 636-922-8111. Any serious
concerns of immediate response please direct to the SCC Department of Public Safety at 922-8545.
POL 101 Schedule and Assignments*
Check for updates on my homepage & study guide pages
Due Date*
8/18 or 8/19
Classes begin!!
Locke paper due
Intro to American
Quizzes: Practice Quiz & Syllabus Quiz
Quiz: Chapter 1
Quiz: Ch. 2
Quiz: Ch. 3
Civil Liberties
Quiz: Ch. 4
Civil Rights
Quiz: Ch. 5
Quiz: Chapter 6
The Media
Quiz: Ch. 10 & 11
Free Press due
Blog Assignment Due
Reading (or watching) Assignments
Lectures are available on MOST topics
Interest Groups
Quiz: Chapter 7
Political Parties
Quiz: Chapter 8
Quiz: Chapter 9
Quiz: Ch 12
The President
Quiz: Ch 13
The Bureaucracy
Quiz: Ch 14
Foreign Policy
Quiz: Ch 18
Electoral Variations due
Thanksgiving Break!!
The Judiciary
Quiz: Ch. 15
Domestic Policy
Quiz: Ch. 16 & 17
12/9 -- MO Voters Quiz
Voters Handbook
Quiz: LWV Handbook on reserve in SCC Library
Final exam date to be voted on
by students (12/8-12/11)
Final Exam
*These dates are subject to change (often at student request)
***Note that not every quiz due date is the same, especially the 2nd half of the semester.
The dates for the quizzes are the LAST times you may take them. Students should take them a day or two
early in case you have technical problems.
Exam locations may change; please check the distance learning webpage for updates