American Government

Political Science 261.14

Fall 2006

Dr. Waggener


Office Location:       AB1 319B

Office Phone/Email:       (936) 294-1466,

Office Hours:   Ts/T 2:00 – 3:30, MWF 10:00 – 11:30 or by appointment


Course Objectives


This course has two primary objectives:


  1. Students will gain knowledge of the structural and philosophical foundations of American government.
  2. Students will be introduced to current political ideas, issues, and events in American politics. Special attention will be given to political ideas, issues, and events that students in the class deem relevant to their political lives.


Class Format

The class format will be a mixture of lecture and student participation. During class discussions, we will not assume that there is a “correct” position on a particular political issue, but rather that there are multiple positions all of which must be considered. Thus students are strongly encouraged to arrive at their own political opinions. However, students must arrive at their opinions through active debate and informed reasoning. “Off the cuff” political opinions are not credible or productive to class learning.


Required Readings


Thomas E. Patterson, The American Democracy . (7 th edition, Texas edition, ISBN 0-07-322651-3

Exams and Grading


There are three multiple-choice exams. Each exam is weighted equally. There is no comprehensive final exam in this course. Exams will be based on material from lectures and the textbook.


Make-Up Exams

Make-up exams will be granted to students who can provide formal documentation of a medical or family emergency. If a student fails to provide this documentation, he or she will receive a zero on the exam. Please note that visitation slips issued by the University Health Center are not considered formal documentation, unless the slip clearly indicates that the student was too ill to attend class. Make up exams will be short answer exams.


Extra Credit

Under NO circumstances will extra credit be offered in this course.


Scored Scantron Sheets

Students must keep their scored scantron sheets. A student cannot challenge their grade unless he or she has copies of all scantron sheets.


Class Policies

Please see for class policies regarding:

Academic Dishonesty , Classroom Rules of Conduct, Student Absences on Religious Holy Days, Students with Disabilities Policy, and Visitors in the Classroom.


Class Schedule


August 22 - 24     Chapter 1: American Political Culture (pp 5-18)

      Texas Chapter 1: Introduction to Texas Government

      Current Event: Immigration and Citizenship


August 29 – 31   Chapter 2: Constitutional Democracy (pp 50-61)

September 5 - 7   Chapter 3: Federalism

September 12 - 14   Chapter 4: Civil Liberties

September 19 - 21   Chapter 5: Civil Rights


September 3     Exam 1


October 3 - 5     Chapter 6: Public Opinion (pp 183-205)

October 10 - 12   Chapter 7: Political Participation

October 19 - 21   Texas Chapter 3: Participation in Texas Politics

October 26 - 28   Chapter 8: Political Parties (pp 248-256)


October 31     Exam 2


November 2     Chapter 11: Congress

November 7 – 9   Class does not meet. Online assignments to be completed.

November 14     Chapter 11: Congress

November 16     Chapter 12: The Presidency


November 21 – 24   Thanksgiving Break


November 28     Chapter 12: The Presidency

November 30     Chapter 13: The Courts

December 5     Chapter 13: The Courts

December 7     Summary of Course Material


December 12 8:00 – 10:00 Exam 3