Course Syllabus: Pol 285

Professor : Mike Yawn

Office : AB1 315J; Phone (936) 294-1456

Office Hours : T, TH 5-6


WebPage :

Texts : The Presidential Difference , Fred Greenstein; First off the Tee , Dan Van Natta, Jr.; The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc , Douglas Brinkley.


Course Overview : This course is designed to teach students about the formulation, passage, and implementation of public policy. In this class, we will emphasize the President's role in public policy, covering the major public policy actions by Presidents since the 1930s. Moreover, you will learn how the President's character, conception of the office, staff, style, and the political environment that influence the scope and success of his policy objectives.


Attendance : You are strongly encouraged to attend every class session. You will not be penalized for merely being absent, but you will miss various quizzes, homework assignments, and extra credit opportunities that cannot be made up . You are responsible for obtaining notes and handouts that you missed from other students. Tardiness will not be tolerated.


Missed Work : Missed tests cannot be made up. However, because the final is comprehensive, it includes questions from material covered on the first test, second test, and material covered subsequent to the second test. If you miss a test, I will simply grade separately the questions on the final that correspond to the missed test. The tests will be announced at least a week in advance, but it is your responsibility to accommodate the class schedule. By enrolling in the course, it is assumed that you will make all the classes.


Note : Turn cell phones, pagers, and other electronic gizmos off before entering the classroom. Keep them concealed throughout class. No whining.


Email : I will endeavor to respond to all email sent from a SHSU account. All emails should be properly addressed, consistent with college-level grammatical procedures, and signed. Emails from a non-university account, lacking a proper salutation, containing incomprehensible content, or messages that are unsigned will be deleted.


Grades : Your grade in this class will be determined by your performance on three tests, quizzes, participation, and other assignments that I deem appropriate. The grade breakdown is as follows:


Test 1:         100 pts (25%)

Test 2:         100 pts (25%)

Test 3:         150 pts (30%)

Class participation:     50 pts (10%)

Quizzes/Homework:     50pts (10%)

Extra Credit:       ???


*I reserve the right to change the syllabus at any time for any reason.

Tests : The tests will be objective (multiple choice and matching). The final is comprehensive.


Quizzes : Quizzes will be given to ensure that students read their daily assignments. You will have a quiz almost everyday there is a reading assignment.


Homework : Homework will be assigned sporadically throughout the semester.


Participation : You are expected to participate in class. Your participation should be constructive and respectful, both to the instructor and other students. I keep a detailed record of who does and does not participate in class, who was and was not able to answer questions, and who indulged in distracting or otherwise negative behavior. You are expected to keep up with current political events. Students will choose (or be assigned) a president, and they are expected to be the “experts” on their president during lectures.


Cheating : The easiest way to fail this class is to cheat. Do not copy any work from another student, and do not plagiarize (defined as using someone else's work without proper documentation). At the minimum, I will fail you, but I may also seek to have you expelled from the university. Plagiarism in any of its manifestations will be penalized with the grade of a zero or referral to the Dean. Plagiarism is any use of work that is not your own, which includes use of another's language or research without proper citation (see student handbook for more information on plagiarism). Anytime you quote something or refer to a non-obvious fact then you need a citation. In if in doubt, don't. See the student handbook if you have additional questions about what constitutes plagiarism.


Q-Drops : A Q-drop is a drop made after the last date for tuition refunds (12 th class day for fall/spring; 4th class day for summer) but before the date for which a drop would result in the grade of 'F' as published in the Academic Calendar. Students will be allowed no more than five Q-drops during their academic career at Sam Houston State University . Classes that are dropped prior to the Q-drop date will not count toward the limit. Students who have used their limit of five Q-drops will need to petition their respective dean to drop a class. If the dean refuses to grant permission to drop a class, a student will be required to remain in the class. This limit took effect with the start of the fall 2004 semester. Any drops accumulated prior to the fall 2004 semester will not be included in the five Q-drop limit, nor will Q drops from other universities.


Additional Info: It is a requirement that you keep up with current events. You can subscribe to a newspaper, watch the news extensively, or check out one of the web sites below. I particularly recommend the first web site, which is a compilation of news from newspapers around the country. , , ,