El Camino College

Political Science 1
Governments of the United States and California

Political Science
Laurie Houske

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Class Information:


Political Science 1 - Section 2718

Room: SOCS 201
TTh   9:30-10:55am


Political Science 1 - Section 2742     

Room: SOCS 201
TTh   11:15-12:40pm 


Office:   SOCS 109    





Supplemental Instruction:

Coach: Eric Furth    

Days of sessions: TTH     

Time: 8:30-9:20 am     

Location: SOCS 211 





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Welcome to Governments of the United States and California.  The goal of this course is to become familiar with the basics of government.  As part of this class we will evaluate the concepts, theories, and functions of the American political system.  This will include an analysis of the Constitution and the three branches of government.  By the end of the semester, you should have a basic understanding of our US Constitution, the Presidency, Congress, the Judiciary, elections, political parties and interest groups.  You should also have an understanding of political socialization and the role of mass media in the political process.

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Class Participation is required as part of your grade.  You cannot participate if you are not in class, so make sure you attend class.

Tardies are noted and are reflected in your grade through classroom demeanor.  It is rude to your fellow students and me.  Additionally, I tend to make announcements at the beginning of class, which will not be repeated.  If you are late to class it is your responsibility to inform me that you were late at the end of class.  If you do not inform me of your tardiness that day you will be counted as absent.  Make sure your cell phone is turned off during class.  Other things you should not do: talking in class, sleeping, wearing sunglasses, disturbing other students with your noise, leaving trash in the classroom, texting other students.


All papers turned in must be typed. 

If one of the tests is missed, you must contact me to make up the exam.  Only one makeup exam is permitted.  Late papers will be reduced by 10%.  There are no exceptions. 

We will have one debate.  Notes for the debate are due the day of the debate.  You may turn in late debate notes but you will receive nominal points for them.  Everyone is required to participate in the debates.   

Tests will be closed book and notes.  Cell phones will not be allowed during the test, must be turned off, and out of view.  Essay tests require a bluebook or notepaper.  Multiple choice tests require a scantron form, preferably 882-E. 

Various extra credit assignments will be given throughout the session.  You can make suggestions of independent extra credit projects. Also, you may write one extra credit debate paper.  It should be a 1½-2 page, persuasive paper based on the discussion held in class and your notes.  The paper is due one week after the debate.  You should write on one side of the argument and attempt to be persuasive.  Do not write a neutral paper.   Part of what you are graded on is the strength of your arguments. 

It is helpful if you keep track of your points so you will know how you are doing in the class. 

Do not presume that you can pass the class without turning in all of the required work because most often you can not.  It is better to turn something in late and lose points than to never turn in a paper and lose all points.  For example, students sometimes choose not to turn in the paper worth 15% of your grade.  This means that if you received a perfect score on every assignment the best you could receive is an 85% in the class.  Don’t make this mistake. 

If you intend to drop the class, it is your responsibility to drop yourself.  I will not drop you.  If you do not drop yourself you will receive an “F” grade.  The last day to drop with a “W” is Friday, May 10, 2019.

Please do not wait to come to me if you are having problems in the class.  It is very difficult to solve problems if you wait until the last minute.  The last two weeks of class are not the time to come to me to ask how you can pass the class. 


My hope for every student is that you are able to pass the class with the grade you desire.  I will do everything possible to help you pass but ultimately the responsibility is on you.

Changes to the syllabus will be announced in class.

Course Objectives: 
Fundamental to successfully meeting the goals and objectives for this course, it is strongly suggested that students will:

  1. Attend class regularly and be on time.
  2. Stay focused and attentive during class discussions.
  3. Buy the books early.
  4. Do the readings as assigned.
  5. Raise questions during class discussions or office hours
  6. Take advantage of the learning resources available on campus, including the Learning Resource Center, your Counselor as a resource,  tutoring programs if needed and available, and other services and/or mini-classes designed to sharpen your “survival skills,” such as note taking, outlining chapter readings, and dealing with test-taking anxieties.
  7. Supplement note taking with audio recording of class discussions.
  8. Strengthen retention of concepts read and discussed by using flash cards.
  9. Use the review sheets to prepare for the exams.
  10. Form study groups to learn from one another.
  11. Read and review.
  12. Read and review.
  13. Read and review.
Upon completing this course, students will be able to describe the basic concepts, theories and functions of the American and California political systems, and meet the following objectives: 
  1. 1. Identify the theoretical foundations and the applications of the American political system. 
    2. Analyze major political institutions: the presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, Judiciary, elections, political parties, and interest groups. 
    3. Examine and assess the implementation of democracy, including the different perspectives of elitism, pluralism, and majoritarianism. 
    4. Evaluate the role of the mass media in the political process. 
    5. Identify and discuss political culture and the function of political socialization. 
    6. Compare and contrast the relationship of federal and state governmental systems and processes with emphasis on California. 
    7. Evaluate and analyze the interdependence of economics and politics. 
    8. Distinguish between civil rights and civil liberties and their evolution in American society. 
    9. Assess the federal and state judicial systems and their impact on public policy. 
    10. Examine and discuss the process of public policy making in relation to international and domestic policy issues. 
    11. Assess the concept and implementation of citizenship. 
    12. Analyze issues of race, ethnicity, class, age, and gender as they relate to the distribution of power in the political process.
  2. Student Learning Outcomes:

    1.  In a multiple choice test, students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of the United States Constitution including its Articles and Amendments, as well as those for the government of California.
    2.  In a multiple choice or written essay exam, students will demonstrate  and understanding of how political parties and interest groups serve as channels for popular participation, and compare/contrast the techniques they use to do so.
    3.  In a written essay or multiple choice exam, students will demonstrate an understanding of the various roles played by the President and California Governor, the political resources available to them to meet the expectations associated with those roles, and how those resources are limited.

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Week 1                        Overview of Course

                                    Discuss balance of freedom & order,

Bardes-Chp 1

Constitution, Bardes-Chp 2,


Week 2                        Declaration of Independence, Appendix 

Week 3                        Federalist Papers 10 & 51, Appendix



Week 4                        Federalism, Bardes-Chp 3 


Week 5                        Constitution Test

                                    Congress, Bardes -Chp 10


Week 6                        Congress

                                         The Presidency, Bardes-Chp 11

Week 7                        The Presidency

                                    The Judiciary, Bardes-Chp 13


Week 8                         The Judiciary, Bardes-Chp 13

                                      Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, Bardes-Chps 4 & 5


Week 9                          Civil Liberties & Civil Rights


Week 10                        Civil Liberties & Civil Rights

                                      Debate- Affirmative Action



Week 11                      Public Opinion (Political Socialization) Bardes-Chp 6


Week 12                      Interest Groups, Bardes- Chp 7



Week 13                      Campaigns & Voting Behavior



Week 14                      Political Parties


Week 15                      Review for Final







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 10%     Constitution Test                       (40 points)

   5%     Debate Notes                             (20 points)

  10%    Note sheets                                    (40 points)

 15%     Paper                                          (60 points)

 25%     Midterm                                     (100 points)

 25%     Final                                          (100 points)

   5%     Class Participation                     (20 points)

   5%     Classroom Demeanor                 (20 points) 

100%                                                      (400 points)

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Course Material:

Bardes, Barbara A., Mack C Shelley II, Steffen W. Schmidt, American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials, Cengage, 2017-2018 edition.











Constitution Review

Midterm Review

Final Review

Note Outlines

Leadership Positions

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Online Resources:


Voting Decisions:




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El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, California 90506
Phone: 310-532-3670 Toll Free: 1-866-ELCAMINO (1-866-352-2646)