Contemporary issues in american politics catalog Description

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Chabot College Fall 2010

Course Outline for Political Science 40


Catalog Description:
40 - Contemporary Issues in American Politics 3 units
An introduction to current political issues, their historical, and economic causes, and the public policies advanced to solve them. Emphasis on government decision-making processes and civic engagement. 3 hours.

[Typical contact hours: 52.5]

Prerequisite Skills:
Expected Outcomes for Students:
Upon the completion of the course the student should be able to:
1. identify major contemporary political issues in American politics;

2. define a public problem;

3. analyze the causes of political issues and problems;

4. evaluate the effects of political issues and problems;

5. describe the process of developing public policy;

6. identify and evaluate the role of public policy actors and entities within and outside

the government;

7. present policy solutions to political problems;

8. describe the role of political institutions in public policy;

9. understand how ideas for government action translate into action;

10. understand and analyze how responses to contemporary political issues differ at the

local, state, and national levels.

Course Content:
1. Public policymaking systems and formal policy models

2. Policy analysis and evaluation

3. Contemporary political issues pertaining to public policy topics, which may fall under (but are not limited to) categories such as:

a. Civil rights policy

b. Welfare policy

c. Criminal justice policy

d. Health Care policy

e. Education policy

f. Foreign and Defense policy

g. Environmental policy

3. Case studies of contemporary political issues and policy problems, including the study of historical context, contemporary approaches, key players, and attempted and proposed solutions

4. Agenda setting processes, actors, and activities

5. Role of non-government entities in the enactment of policy

6. The framing of contemporary issues (ex: role of media, social movements, political


7. Limits to public intervention

8. Optional: civic engagement activities and/or service learning component
Methods of Presentation:
1. Lecture, including PowerPoint

2. Class discussion

2. Role playing activities and debates

3. Student presentations

4. Audio-visual material

Assignments and Methods of Evaluating Student Progress:
1. Typical assignments:

a. Identify a contemporary political issue and write a research paper on its historical background, the current debate surrounding this issue, relevant actors, and proposed solutions.

b. Identify a contemporary societal problem and propose a policy solution, demonstrating strong comprehension of public policy theory, and the practicalities of political action.
2. Methods of Evaluating Student Progress:

a. Quizzes

b. Midterm examinations

c. Written assignments

d. Oral presentations (individual or in groups)

e. Critical essays, position papers and/or research papers

f. Class participation

g. Final examination

Textbook(s) (Typical):
Technology and the Future (11th edition), Albert H. Teich, Wadsworth, 2009.

American Public Policy: An Introduction (9th edition) Cochran et al., Wadsworth, 2009

Issues for Debate in American Public Policy: Selections from Cq Researcher (10th edition),

CQ Press, 2009

Special Student Materials:

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