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Poli 110 (fall 2017)

Professor Adam Brown (about me)
Email: brown@byu.edu
Office phone: (801) 422-2182
Course website: http://adambrown.info/p/courses/2017/fall/110
Last syllabus update: July 17th, 2017

My office location: 772 SWKT
My office hours: Tue 12:15-1:30pm and Thu 1:15-2:15pm.

TA names, contact info, and office hours
Each time you reload this page, the order of the TAs' names below will be shuffled. If you're not sure which TA to email, just email the TA whose name appears first in this list. For more information about what TAs can do for you, see the "Teaching Assistants" section later in this syllabus.

  • Will Morrison (willbmor <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Joe Erickson (joee468 <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Katiemarie Harmon (katiemarieharmon <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Chloe Roblyer (chloeroblyer <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Melia Dayley (melia_dayley <at> yahoo <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Lara Hollis (lhollis6 <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.
  • Alex Nowjack (alexnowjack <at> gmail <dot> com), office hours TBD in 849 SWKT.

In addition to one-on-one office hours, TAs will hold group Q&A sessions at times to be determined. TAs will lead these sessions with brief comments about the week's material, then they will open the floor for questions. For your reference, the TAs look like this:








What's this course about?

You learned in high school about our basic governmental structure. You know that we have a federal system. You know that the federal government is divided into three branches: judicial, legislative, and executive. You know that Congress is bicameral, and that it takes a 2/3 vote to override a presidential veto. You know all these basic facts. If you've forgotten any, they are easy to look up. They are also reviewed in your textbook, of course.

My goal is not to teach these basic facts about our government's structure. Rather, my goal is to help you understand how these basic facts influence how politics operates. How would policy outcomes be different if the president lacked a veto, or if we elected the vice president separately from the president, or if we had a nationwide referendum process? You learned the facts about our governmental structure in high school; now, you will learn about the implications of those facts. This course will help you understand that our government's structure has important consequences.

In addition to studying the American Constitutional structure, we will also discuss how individual Americans interact with their government. Who votes, and why does it matter? What do political parties, interest groups, and the news media do, and why does it matter? Why do candidates run negative ads, and does it matter?

Of course, before we get to any of that, we will consider the American founding. What was so flawed about our first constitution—the Articles of Confederation, drafted during the Revolution—that we decided in 1787 to draft a new constitution? Why do we need a Constitution at all? How has the Constitution evolved over time, particularly with respect to civil rights and civil liberties?

Those are the three main fields of study within American politics: political development (how we got where we are), political institutions (how the rules and structure matter), and political behavior (how individuals act in political settings). This brief introductory course will not be able to cover everything, of course. It will, however, provide enough information about these three topics to enable you to think critically and carefully about politics throughout your lifetime.

Specific learning outcomes

The political science department has established specific learning outcomes to ensure that all our graduates grow spiritually and intellectually. We have developed a narrower set of learning outcomes for Poli 110 that contribute to these departmental goals. By the conclusion of this course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Analyze current events in American politics using political science concepts.
  • Describe the most important Constitutional provisions in American national government and how they have changed over time.
  • Assess the functions and interactions of American political institutions.
  • Explain the role individuals play in American government and what factors influence their behavior.
  • Evaluate how you as an individual can effectively participate in the political process.

This course also meets university-level learning outcomes and therefore provides general education credit. Because we will discuss the scientific methodologies, theories, assumptions, and models used in political research, this course satisfies the general education requirement in social science. And because of our substantive focus on American history and politics, this course also contributes toward the general education requirement in American heritage. Refer to the university's general education foundation documents for more information about what the social science and American heritage requirements involve.

What books do we need?

Required: Kernell, Jacobson, Kousser, and Vavreck. The Logic of American Politics. 7th edition.

  • I am assigning the 7th edition and recommend you purchase that one. You may purchase the newer (8th) edition if you want to spend more money, or an older (6th or 5th) edition if you want to spend less. Most of the material remains the same from one edition to the next. Still, purchasing the 7th edition will make your life easier and ensure you see the same material I do. Caveat: Using an older edition is not a basis to appeal a test question (though this problem is unlikely to arise.)
  • If you do not buy the 7th edition, compare the 7th edition's table of contents to your own edition's when needed to convert assigned page numbers.
  • Amazon links: 7th edition, 6th edition, 5th edition.
  • Check out the study resources at the book's website. It's really good.

Required: A packet in the bookstore with information on Utah politics, referenced as "Utah packet" in the schedule below. Poli 110 is meant to address national, state, and local politics. Though many of you will settle outside Utah after graduating, understanding Utah politics will prepare you to understand state and local politics in any US state.

Required: An iClicker. You must have your own. You cannot share an iClicker with another student; it will be linked to your BYU identity. (Buying a used iClicker is fine.) Your iclicker MUST be registered (see below) or you will receive no credit for taking quizzes.

  • You may purchase either the original iclicker (like this) or the iclicker+ (like this). I cannot say with certainty that the iclicker 2 or other products will work with my receiver.
  • You will use your iClicker to take in-class quizzes. If you do not have your iClicker with you on a day that I give a quiz, or if your batteries die, you will not receive credit for that day's quiz. No exceptions. Always have your iClicker with you. (Don't worry: I drop your lowest quiz scores, as discussed elsewhere in this syllabus.)
  • Important! You must register your iClicker online if you wish to receive credit for quizzes! Visit BYU's iClicker registration page and enter your iClicker number.
  • Also important! You must attend the section you are registered for. You will not get credit for quizzes if you use your iclicker while attending a different section of Poli 110.

Required: Follow national news every day from the New York Times.

  • Visit http://www.nytimes.com/newsletters. Find the Morning Briefing. Click "sign up" and enter your email address. (You'll probably want to uncheck the little box letting them spam you about other things.)
  • FYI: The NY Times limits how many stories from its website that you can read each month, but it uses a strange formula. If you do get a message that you've reached your limit for the month, consider purchasing an inexpensive student discount digital subscription. I've also been told (though I haven't tested it) that viewing stories in your browser's stealth/incognito mode will prevent you from hitting your limit.
  • I have no particular attachment to the NY Times. I encourage you to consume news from a wide diversity of sources. The NY Times email newsletters are simply a convenient way to ensure we all see a common set of stories each day that I can base quizzes on.

General course policies

This syllabus is a plan, not a contract. Anything you read in this syllabus is subject to reasonable change at my discretion. That being said...

You are responsible to know all the deadlines, policies, and other information in this syllabus. Review it regularly. Visit me or a TA with questions.

Email. You must check your email daily, including your spam folder. You are accountable for anything I send by email. Make sure that the email address you have provided to BYU is current. Log into myBYU and check. I will manually import your email from the roster BYU provides me into my website, which will enable you to login to this website and complete online assignments; if your email address changes after the first week of class, send me an email so I can re-sync my website's roster.

Course website. Many course activities require you to log in to the course website using a username and password I provide to you. (You can change this password if you wish.) Log out every time you finish using the website so that your grades and personal information remain secure. If you ever worry that your account has been compromised, inform me immediately.

Grades, assignments, and some very very important policies

10% In-class quizzes
21% Debate papers (download instructions and submit online)
20% Midterm 1
20% Midterm 2
29% Final exam (29% = 20% new material + 9% comprehensive)
Bonus Enrichment activities (download instructions and submit online)
Bonus Government meetings (download instructions and submit online)

Grade appeals for written work should always come to me, not to a TA. Allow a 24-hour cooling off period after receiving your grade before coming to me, but come within a week of receiving the grade in question. Generally speaking, it is more fruitful to help you improve your performance on future assignments than revisit past grades, but I will consider appeals when there is demonstrable error by graders or some other palpable injustice.

Attend government meetings to raise your debate paper scores. I encourage you to attend local government meetings this semester so that you can observe real-world politics in practice. By doing so, you can have your worst debate paper score raised by 20 percentage points, even if that takes your score above 100. Here are further instructions.

Quizzes. I regularly give brief quizzes in class. Research shows that frequent low-stakes quizzes dramatically improve student learning. Quizzes will emphasize recent lectures, assigned readings, and current events. You must have your iClicker with you (including live batteries) to receive credit.

Missed quizzes cannot be made up. Recognizing that life happens, I drop your two lowest quiz scores. It does not matter whether your absence was excusable (illness, official university travel) or not (forgetting an iclicker, skipping class). Everybody gets two dropped quizzes. Dropping a quiz means removing it from both the numerator and denominator; it does not mean changing it to a perfect score. If you want me to drop more than two quizzes, keep reading.

Complete enrichment activities to drop more quizzes. You will have two opportunities to complete an (optional) enrichment assignment, graded pass/fail. If you complete the assignment satisfactorily, I will drop 3 additional quizzes. Yes, you may earn this bonus twice if you submit both enrichment assignments, meaning I drop 6 additional quizzes, for a total of 8 dropped quizzes. That's likely to be at least one-third of the quizzes I give this semester, so this is sort of a big deal. Again, it does not matter why you miss (or bomb) a quiz. This is your only makeup option.

Missed lectures. If you miss class, you do not need to contact me with an excuse. With a class this size, I do not keep attendance. However, you are responsible for the material you missed. First, get notes from a classmate or two. Please do not spam the entire roster through Learning Suite with a request for notes; ask somebody sitting next to you in class, or attend a TA Q&A session to meet students interested in studying together. After reviewing those notes, my lecture slides, and the assigned readings, visit me or a TA to ask any remaining questions you have. Please do not expect me or a TA to summarize the entire lecture for you one-on-one; we are happy to help you in office hours, but please do what you can first to learn the material on your own.

Missed exams cannot be made up unless you (1) arrange it in advance for a valid reason (such as a scheduled surgery or university-authorized travel) or (2) have a genuine emergency and contact me as soon as possible to work things out.

Written assignments are not accepted late unless you experience a documented medical or family emergency, which I will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. I provide a multiday submission window for each written assignment. I expect you to submit assignments at the beginning of this window. Your written assignments will be submitted and graded online. Assignments are always due by 4:00pm on the last day of the window, with a grace period until 11:55pm. Once that grace period expires, the software WILL NOT allow you to submit your assignment for any reason. Realize that internet outages and technical difficulties sometimes arise at inconvenient times. If a technical problem with the submission website arises prior to 4:00pm, get in touch with me before I leave for the day and I will either fix the problem or extend the deadline. If a technical problem with the submission website arises during the grace period, however, you are out of luck and will receive a zero on the assignment. Choosing to submit your assignment after 4:00pm is choosing to gamble.

Always submit assignments early. I expect you to submit your assignments near the beginning of the multiday submission window. If you procrastinate the assignment until the afternoon of the last day, and then you find that an unforeseen illness, emergency, or internet outage prevents you from completing the assignment on time, I will exhibit far less sympathy than if those problems had arisen on the first day of the assignment submission window.

Again, do not rely on grace periods. The submission website sometimes crashes during the grace period due to a flood of students trying to submit at the last minute. You're out of luck, though, if the crash happens after 4pm (during the grace period); I will not accept your assignment. You really are gambling if you try submitting close to the deadline. Submit your assignments early.

Final exam mercy rule: If you do better on the final than on one or both of the midterms, then whichever midterm you perform worst on will have its weight reduced by 5 percentage points and the final will have its weight increased by 5 percentage points.

Do you have a university-excused absence letter? If you have a letter listing dates you will travel with an athletic team, performing arts group, or something similar, I probably do not need to see it unless (1) official travel will cause you to miss the entire period that an exam is in the Testing Center, or (2) official travel will cause you to miss more iclicker quizzes than you can drop (which is unlikely). After carefully reading all the policies in this syllabus, visit with me if you have questions.

Teaching assistants' role

I have hired intelligent, hard working, wonderful teaching assistants. They are all your fellow students. Get to know them. A TA's two main jobs are to serve as a tutor and as a grader. Don't forget the "tutor" part. When you have questions about course material, ask them. TAs are, of course, fellow students, and sometimes they will not know the answer. But if they don't, they will either help you find it or else refer you to me. (You are, of course, always welcome to visit me in my office hours without seeing a TA first.)

TA Q&A sessions: I have asked the TAs to organize frequent group Q&A sessions. These group Q&A sessions provide a venue to ask questions about concepts that may have been unclear to you. I encourage you to attend, even if you only listen. (The specific times appear at the top of this syllabus.)

TA office hours: TAs will also offer one-on-one interaction in office hours. TAs will not accept grade appeals (those should come to me), but this is a good time to discuss your papers or go over any complicated course material. TA office hours are held at the times and places listed at the top of this syllabus.

TAs and the writing process. TAs are an excellent resource for improving the conceptual ideas in your papers. Before writing your final draft, write an outline and discuss your ideas with a TA. When it comes to improving your ideas, a good oral discussion is usually better than bringing in a written draft and asking a TA to read through it. If you're mostly looking for help with grammar or style (not with conceptual ideas), I encourage you to visit the FHSS writing lab or the BYU writing center, which have more resources for that sort of help.

TA boundaries. It is inappropriate to ask a TA on a date or offer any gift (not even cookies) until after final grades are posted. It is also inappropriate to pay a TA for service as your private tutor; their services are free to students in this course.

Past midterms are available only in my office, not the TA office. I trust my TAs, but I am not comfortable keeping copies of my past exams in the TA office, which is shared by TAs from several political science courses, some of whom could conceivably be registered as students in this course. As such, you must come to my office if you wish to look through your past exams. If you cannot come during my scheduled office hours, email me to make an appointment.

How hard is this course?

Is this a weeder class? No. A true weeder class ensures that only the "best" students can declare for a certain major. For example, Econ 110 is a weeder class (in every sense of the word) for some business majors; you cannot declare in these majors unless you receive a certain minimum grade in Econ 110 and other courses in the pre-management core. Poli 110 is not a weeder class for any major. It's not even a weeder for political science; you can get a D in Poli 110 and still declare in political science, though I might advise otherwise.

Do I have to be "good" at political science to earn an A? No. You are not competing against a room full of political science experts. In fact, 80-90% of the students who take Poli 110 are NOT political science majors; in any event, majors tend to perform no better than non-majors. Rather, most are students fulfilling general education requirements for social science or American heritage. If you have little or no background with American politics or social science, you are not unusual. Foreign students often do as well as American students, assuming no language barriers. As such, what separates A students from C students is usually effort and dedication.

Wait, your grades are based on effort? No. But consider some sage counsel from Thomas S. Monson: "Thinking is the hardest work anyone can do, which is probably the reason why we have so few thinkers.... What the public takes for brilliance is really the result of thorough, painstaking investigation and downright hard work. Were we to be deprived of work, we should be robbed of our greatest field of enjoyment and be forever condemned to mediocrity." (In "Constant Truths," found in Pathways to Perfection.) Those who work hard can usually learn the material and earn a satisfactory grade.

Do you curve grades? I never curve grades down, but I curve them up if necessary. My curving process ensures the top third earns at least a B+ and the next third earns at least a B-. (Most of the bottom third earns something in the C range.) These are floors, not ceilings; I will give more than a third of you a score above B+ if you earn it, and I have indeed taught the occasional section of Poli 110 that exceeds these floors, making curving unnecessary. Most often, however, I do wind up applying a curve. These practices ensure that my final grade distribution broadly resembles distributions found in other large introductory courses in the social sciences, with an average grade around a B-.

How much time should students spend on this class? As the BYU catalog states, "The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence." Elsewhere, the catalog defines an A as "excellent," a B as "good," and a C as "satisfactory." Thus, an "average student" (earning a B or C) who is "appropriately prepared" (took standard coursework on US history and government in high school) should plan to spend 9 hours per week on this course. If you want to "achieve excellence" (an A), "much more time may be required." It's fine to have a job—I had them when I was a student—but consider carefully how many hours you work each week. An "average student" (28 ACT, 3.8 high school GPA) who takes 15 credit hours should plan to spend 45 hours on school each week to maintain a B or C average.

How can I improve my grades?

I do not offer extra credit assignments beyond the bonus opportunities listed above, but I can offer several suggestions that may help you raise your grades. Performing well requires, first, comprehending the material, and second, retaining what you have comprehended. Each step requires different strategies. Though reexposure (reviewing notes, re-reading books, attending review sessions) boosts comprehension, research demonstrates that it does little to boost retention. To boost retention, you must practice retrieval. Read on for further tips on comprehension and retention.

Improving comprehension of lectures.

  • Attend every class and take notes. Rather than transcribe the entire lecture, outline it and write down the most important points. I provide outlines on my slides to help you organize your notes.
  • Turn off your laptop's wifi and turn off your phone during class to minimize distractions. If your laptop still distracts you, use pen and paper.
  • I make lecture slides available online, but they are sparse. They are meant to supplement in-class discussion, not replace your own notes. You may find it helpful to print out the slides and take your notes on them.
  • If you must miss a lecture, follow the "missed lecture" suggestions elsewhere in this syllabus to catch up.
  • Consider taking STDEV 109 ("Effective Study and Learning") to improve your note-taking and listening skills.

Improving comprehension of readings. Following department standards, I assign roughly 1200 pages per semester, which comes out to almost 100 pages per week.

  • Stay current. The reading load is tough, but doable. But if you fall behind, you might have 300 or 400 pages to catch up on before the midterm. Don't let that happen.
  • Use the reading load planner so you don't get caught off guard by heavy reading days.
  • Study someplace where you can concentrate without distractions.
  • Textbooks and scholarly books aren't written like novels, so don't read them the same way. Start by reading the introduction and conclusion. Then, read the headings, boldfaced text, tables, figures, and the first paragraph under each heading. If provided, look through the chapter's terms list and review questions and quiz yourself on them, even though you will not know most answers at this point. Spend only a few minutes on these initial steps, just long enough to get a vision of where the chapter is going. Then, quickly read the whole thing. When you're done, flip to each heading and, without re-reading what comes below, practice summarizing in your mind the main point of each section. End by re-reading the introduction and conclusion and, if provided, quizzing yourself using the textbook's terms list and review questions.
  • Use the textbook's website frequently. It has flashcards, practice quizzes, and other good study resources. The flashcards in particular can help you focus on key concepts. Repetition is the mother of learning.
  • Occasionally I assign brief non-textbook readings. For these, focus on finding the central point. For a 2-3 page reading, you should usually be able to summarize the main point in 2-3 sentences. Longer or more detailed readings may have a handful of points you should remember.
  • Consider taking STDEV 205 ("Success in College Reading") or STDEV 305 ("Advanced Strategies for College Success") to learn speed-reading and other skills.

Improving retention Research is clear: Retrieval aids retention far more than reexposure does. Retrieval means forcing yourself to try remembering something; reexposure means reviewing your notes or re-reading a book. Retrieval boosts learning even more when you retrieve regularly. Your study should include only enough reexposure to ensure comprehension; after that, emphasize retrieval over reexposure as your study strategy.

  • Use the terms list and review questions to quiz yourself. Do not check yourself against your notes until you have finished going through all the terms and review questions for a particular day.
  • Without looking at the terms list or review questions, write down 5 things you learned after each lecture or after each reading assignment. Do this after allowing an hour or two to pass, which will make retrieval more difficult and therefore more effective.
  • For readings that lack a terms list or review questions, write your own.
  • Set up a schedule to repeat these retrieval exercises. For example, a couple hours after each lecture, take 10 minutes retrieving information from that day's lecture and readings, 10 minutes retrieving information from the previous day's lecture and readings, and 10 minutes retrieving information from the lecture before that. This schedule will lead you to review everything three times, dramatically boosting your retention later on.
  • Power tip: Meet with 2-3 friends at the same time every week in one of the library's study rooms. Discuss all the review questions and terms—both those I provide, and those you prepare yourselves. Explain each out loud in your own words. Argue about what was most important. Find any other strategies you can think of that help you practice retrieval rather than mere reexposure.
  • Some of these tips are drawn from Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.

Improving your writing. When writing in the social sciences, you must take a side and defend it. A persuasive paper will have (1) a central claim, clearly stated as you open and close; (2) logical arguments (reasons) that support your claim; and (3) compelling real-world evidence that supports your reasons. This advice is especially relevant to your debate papers.

  • Read the instructions carefully, and review them before each paper. If you have questions, ask.
  • Outline your argument before you write it out. Then, show your outline to a friend, a TA, or me and invite a counterargument to help you identify weak points in your own argument. Visiting office hours for this exercise well ahead of the due date will provide more time for you to reflect on and improve your argument.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read your work out loud into the mirror. Don't let typos, errors, or awkward phrasing obscure your ideas. Visit the BYU writing center for help with grammar and style. Spelling and grammar always matter.
  • Finish writing a day before turning an assignment in. That gives you time to step away from it, sleep on it, and then re-read your prose with fresh eyes.
  • Read the information below about plagiarism carefully. Unintentional plagiarism caused by sloppy notetaking is still plagiarism.

General suggestions

  • When you have questions, ask. Take advantage of Q&A sessions and office hours. Group Q&A sessions can be even better than one-on-one office hours, since they give you a chance to meet other students who might be interested in putting together a study group.
  • Take a break from school once a week. Your mind needs to rest. Sometimes "we have to forego some good things… to choose others that are better" (from Elder Oaks, "Good, Better, Best"). Higher education is good, but don't forget to leave time for things that are better. Isaiah wrote of rich blessings for all who devote a weekly Sabbath to the "best" activities.
  • Treat your body like a temple. Exercise, eat healthy food, and develop healthy sleep habits. Those who take care of their bodies "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge" (DC 89:19). Your mind will not function as well on artificial stimulants as on appropriate food, exercise, and sleep.

A matter of a few degrees

Consider a true story once told by Dieter Uchtdorf:

In 1979 a large passenger jet with 257 people on board left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica and back. Unknown to the pilots, however, someone had modified the flight coordinates by a mere two degrees. This error placed the aircraft 28 miles (45 km) to the east of where the pilots assumed they were. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots descended to a lower altitude to give the passengers a better look at the landscape. Although both were experienced pilots, neither had made this particular flight before, and they had no way of knowing that the incorrect coordinates had placed them directly in the path of Mount Erebus....

By the time the instruments sounded the warning that the ground was rising fast toward them, it was too late. The airplane crashed into the side of the volcano, killing everyone on board.

It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error—a matter of only a few degrees....

Remember: the heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways...

Although he told this story to make a different point, we can also apply this story to the university setting: High grades don't go to those who never make mistakes, but to those who recognize when they go off course and take prompt corrective action. If an exam or paper early in the course comes back with a lower grade than you hoped, then read and apply the study tips listed above. Visit with me or a TA for further help. Every semester, students visit me shortly before the final asking how they can raise their grades, but if you wait until the end of the course to correct your course, it may be too late.

Plagiarism and cheating

While all students sign the honor code, there are still specific skills most students need to master over time in order to correctly cite sources, especially online sources, as well as deal with the stress and strain of college life without resorting to cheating. As your professor, I will notice instances of cheating on exams or plagiarizing on papers. Even if the plagiarism was unintentional, it will have serious consequences for your grade. General information about the honor code can be found at http://honorcode.byu.edu. Details about Academic Honesty are found in the university catalog

Writing submitted for credit at BYU must consist of the student's own ideas presented in sentences and paragraphs of the student's own construction. The work of other writers or speakers may be included when appropriate (as in a research paper or book review), but such material must support the student's own work (not substitute for it) and must be clearly identified by appropriate introduction ("According to so-and-so...") and punctuation (such as quotation marks) and by footnoting or other standard referencing. Take care with your notetaking to track sources and to differentiate quotations you have jotted down from paraphrases you have written. Unintentional plagiarism caused by sloppy notetaking is still plagiarism.

Substituting another person's work for the student's own or including another person's work without adequate acknowledgment (whether done intentionally or not) is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a violation of academic, ethical, moral, and legal standards and can result in a failing grade not only for the paper but also for the course in which the paper is written. In extreme cases, it can justify expulsion from the University. Because of the seriousness of these consequences, students who wonder if their papers are within these guidelines should visit the Writing Lab or consult with their professor or TA. Useful books to consult on the topic include the current Harbrace College Handbook, the MLA Handbook, and James D. Lester's Writing Research Papers.

Counseling and stress management

Most lifelong mental illnesses emerge in adolescence and early adulthood—the typical college students' age. If you experience frequent sadness, worry, fear, inability to focus, nightmares, forgetfulness, or extreme mood changes; if you are withdrawing socially, avoiding friends and social activities; if you experience significant changes in sleeping habits or eating habits; if you are abusing alcohol, prescription medications, or other substances; or if you are thinking about hurting yourself, then please talk to somebody. You may find that all is well, but please find out.

Mental health concerns and stressful life events can affect students' academic performance and quality of life. BYU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS, 1500 WSC, 801-422-3035, https://caps.byu.edu) provides individual, couples, and group counseling, as well as stress management services. These services are confidential and are provided by the university at no cost for full-time students. For general information please visit https://caps.byu.edu. For more immediate concerns please visit http://help.byu.edu.

Equal opportunity

Discrimination and misconduct: As required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the university prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. University policy requires any university employee in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report incidents of sexual misconduct (such as sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking) that come to their attention through face-to-face conversation, a written class assignment, class discussion, email, social media post, or other means. If you have been a victim of a crime, call the police. If you encounter unlawful sexual misconduct or gender based discrimination, please contact the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or 801-422-2130, or via Ethics Point (https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062, 24-hours). Additional information about Title IX and resources available to you can be found at titleix.byu.edu.

Disabilities: Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (801-422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Office at 801-422-5895, D-282 ASB

Accommodation letters: If you desire accommodations based on a letter written on your behalf by the University Accessibility Center, please deliver the letter to me in person (not by email) so we can have a face-to-face conversation about appropriate accommodations. These are important conversations; if you are unable to come during my office hours, email me to schedule an appointment at another time.

Reading schedule

Dates and deadlines are subject to change. "Terms" are intended to focus your exam preparation. The terms listed here are in addition to those listed in your textbook. "Readings" are required; please tell me if a link is broken. "Resources" are not required, but you may find them interesting.

You can also view the reading schedule in calendar format.

  • Unit 1. Introduction to political science
  • Tue, Sep 5th, 2017. Course overview. What is politics? Why study American politics? What is political science?
    Termspolitics; policy; false consensus bias; American politics; comparative politics; international relations; political philosophy; methodology; political institutions; political behavior; political development; all terms from textbook
    38 pages
    • Throughout this syllabus, readings are listed on the day they are due. That is, you should read the materials listed above before coming to class.
    • I will often use this space to write questions or notes that help you understand the purpose and relevance of non-textbook readings. (For textbook readings, rely on the review questions and terms at the end of each chapter.) Each day, as you check your reading assignments, do not overlook this space.
    • BYU Aims, Mission Statement, and DC 88: Why have you chosen to study at BYU? Why do you suppose that a school with BYU's mission and aims requires this course? Review the "what's this course about" and "specific learning outcomes" sections at the top of this syllabus as you consider your answer.
    • Why a Utah packet? Poli 110 addresses American politics at the national, state, and local levels. Understanding Utah politics will prepare you to engage state and local politics in any state. Though I will require only small portions of the Utah packet, I encourage reading all of it; moreover, since it is written in my voice, you may find the Utah packet a more useful resource than Logic for understanding concepts from lecture.
  • Thu, Sep 7th, 2017. The logic of politics. What is politics? Why can voluntary action produce undesirable results? What are the tradeoffs of governmental involvement?
    Termscoordination problem; prisoner's dilemma; chicken; collective action problem; free rider problem; tragedy of the commons; transaction costs; conformity costs; all terms from textbook
    46 pages
    • As you read D&C 134, it's as interesting to notice what is NOT said as it is to reflect on what IS said. You'll notice, for example, that there is no judgment made between monarchy and representative democracy. What about this section (whether inclusions or omissions) do you find most unexpected?
    • I assign Elder Bednar's sermon to help you see the difference between "power" and "authority," a distinction that is important in politics. All modern presidents have the same Constitutionally-conferred authority, for example, but their power varies. Read his sermon, then consider why some presidents have more power than others.
    • Mancur Olson's work is a classic. As you read, take particular care to observe (a) what a collective action problem is, (b) why it arises, and (c) how group size matters.
    • If you have just added the class, be sure to go back and read the materials from the first day. If you use the reading load planner, you will notice that I assign heavier reading loads during the first third of the course and lighter loads near the end. I have frontloaded readings in this manner because you will be much busier in all your classes later in the semester than you are now. But this frontloading means you should take care not to fall behind at the beginning of the course.
  • Unit 2. Political development: Forming a union
  • Tue, Sep 12th, 2017. The Constitution. How do institutions matter? What influenced the framers' thinking and interests? What was wrong with the Articles of Confederation? Why is it hard to know the founders' intent? Why was compromise important in drafting and ratifying the Constitution? How was the Constitution inspired?
    Termsinstitutions; original sin; Newton's laws; American Philosophical Society; Declaration of Independence; Articles of Confederation; confederation; Shays's rebellion; aristocrat; republic; democracy; Virginia Plan; New Jersey Plan; three-fifths compromise; plural executive; separation of powers; federal division of powers; popular sovereignty; rule of law; Bill of Rights; federalist; antifederalist; ratification; Federalist Papers; all terms from textbook
    56 pages
    • Read the entire Declaration, but pay special attention to the first two paragraphs and the final paragraph.
    • As you read the Articles of Confederation—the first US constitution—ask yourself what flaws may have led to a desire to write a second (1787) Constitution. For example, take note of what sort of national executive and judiciary the Articles created. Also, compare section II in the Articles to Article 6 (second paragraph) of the Constitution. There are many other such differences you may notice.
    • If you haven't listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, let me just say... dude. Here's your preview. (If you look up the album, be aware that there are two versions: Explicit and non-explicit.)
    • Learn more in Poli 202, "Western Political Heritage"
    • Learn more in Poli 365, "Early American Political Thought"
  • Thu, Sep 14th, 2017. Continued.
    DUEGet your password. You will need a username and password for this website to submit assignments. Look for the "login" link at the top of the page. (On mobile devices, expand the menu to see it.)
    31 pages
    • Logic, second half of ch 2, with special attention to Federalist 10 and 51 [23 pages]
    • Oaks (1992), "The divinely inspired Constitution" [8 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Brutus (1787), Anti-federalist #3, November 15, 1787 [5 pages]
    • Madison (1787), Federalist #10 (Appendix 4 in Logic) [4 pages]
    • Madison (1787), Federalist #51 (Appendix 5 in Logic) [3 pages]
    • Important! You must register your iClicker online if you wish to receive credit for quizzes! Visit BYU's iClicker registration page and enter your iClicker number if you haven't already. You must click the link provided; if your other courses have used a different iClicker registration link (and many do), I won't have access to that information.
    • Be able to state the key points of Federalist 10 and 51. Both address concerns about representation and factionalism raised by the antifederalist Brutus. One presents the proposed union's vast size as a safeguard against factionalism, turning Brutus's argument on its head; the other rests on the proposed Constitution's checks and balances, both horizontal and vertical. To what extent do these two essays fail to address some of Brutus's concerns?
    • Memorize the five points Elder Oaks identifies as inspired. Re-read the Constitution to see what he omits. He stresses that this is merely his opinion, not an apostolic pronouncement. Thus, reflect: What might you add to, remove from, or change in his list?
    • Learn more in Poli 365, "Early American Political Thought"
  • Tue, Sep 19th, 2017. Constitution Day lecture.
    • BYU celebrates the September 17, 1787, signing of the Constitution with an annual lecture. This lecture will be held outside of class some time this week. I will update this schedule once I know the time and date. If you have a conflict, there is usually an audio recording made available afterward. I require you to attend or otherwise listen to the Constitution Day lecture as part of this class.
    • In addition to attending this year's Constitution Day lecture, please also watch the phenomenal 2013 Constitution Day lecture linked above.
  • Thu, Sep 21st, 2017. Federalism and centralization. What is federalism? Why has power grown more centralized (or nationalized) over time?
    DUEGet your password (for real). Anybody who successfully creates a password and logs into the course website by midnight tonight will receive bonus quiz credit; those who don't won't. Look for a login link at the top of this page.
    Termsstate; unitary; confederal; federal; dual federalism; shared federalism; centralization; supremacy clause; necessary and proper clause; commerce clause; McCulloch v Maryland; Gibbons v Ogden; all terms from textbook
    59 pages
    • Logic, all of ch 3, especially "The Paths to Nationalization" and "Modern Federalism" [40 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 46-56 and 69-71 (but all of ch 3 is recommended) [14 pages]
    • US Constitution, Articles IV and VI, Amendments 9-11, 16-17 [5 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Utah packet key concepts: shared federalism, dual federalism, Tenth Amendment, Medicaid, TANF, public lands (or "federal lands"), Tea Party, Patrick Henry Caucus, Bureau of Reclamation, Utah anti-federalism.
    • Learn more in Poli 311, "State and Local Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 325, "Politics of Wilderness, National Parks, and Public Lands"
    • Learn more in Poli 420, "Constitutional Law: American Federal System"
  • Unit 3. Political development: Rights and liberties
  • Tue, Sep 26th, 2017. Rights and liberties (with case studies on speech and on religious liberty). How are the terms "civil rights" and "civil liberties" used differently? How did the civil rights movement of the 1960s overcome collective action problems? Why and how did southern states resist federal civil rights actions? What are the rights and duties of an American citizen? How have your liberties evolved over time? What was the framers' experience with religious freedom? When can free exercise be limited? When is prayer allowed in public schools?
    Termscivil rights; civil liberties; procedural equality; substantive equality; 13th amendment; 15th amendment; Civil Rights Act; Voting Rights Act; Plessy v Ferguson; Brown v Board of Education; segregation; busing; affirmative action; de facto; de jure; ex post facto laws; bills of attainder; habeas corpus; 14th amendment; selective incorporation; 1st amendment; freedom of speech; pure political speech; symbolic speech; speech accompanied by disruptive conduct; incitement; Toleration Act; establishment clause; free exercise clause; theocracy; de jure establishment; de facto establishment; incidental burden; Lemon test; neutrality test; Main Street Plaza; school prayer; all terms from textbook
    43 pages
    • Debate 1 is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Thursday, September 28th.
    • If you are using a different edition of Logic, remember to convert the assigned pages. I provide a scanned copy of the 7th edition's table of contents in the "what books do we need" section above to help you with this.
    • What is the "purpose" mentioned in D&C 101:80? (Verse 79 contains the direct answer, although verses 76-78 are relevant.)
    • Learn more in Poli 421, "Constitutional Law: Rights and Immunities"
    • Consider watching Lincoln, which depicts just how difficult it was to end slavery. Though Congress is very different now, Lincoln also accurately depicts the 19th-century Congress.
  • Thu, Sep 28th, 2017. Continued.
    DUEDebate 1. Read the instructions and then submit online.
    71 pages
    • Utah packet key concepts: Nauvoo, Council of Fifty, Brigham Young as Governor, State of Deseret, Utah War, Camp Douglas, People's Party, twin relics of barbarism, Edmunds-Tucker Act.
    • Garr: Why did JS mount a long-shot bid for president? What were some key parts of his platform?
    • What lessons about modern religious liberty do we learn from the early LDS experiences you are reading about today? How might the lack of a 14th amendment (as of 1843-4) have limited President Van Buren's ability to help the Saints?
    • Learn more in Poli 336, "Government and Religion"
    • Learn more in Poli 421, "Constitutional Law: Rights and Immunities"
  • Fri, Sep 29th, 2017. Reminder.
    FYIPeer reviews for Debate 1 are now open. Submit online by Tuesday, October 3rd.
  • Tue, Oct 3rd, 2017. Catch up and review.
    DUEPeer reviews for Debate 1. Submit online.
    FYIWe will spend as much time as necessary finishing the previous lecture. I will leave the remaining time available to answer review questions.
  • Thu, Oct 5th, 2017. Woohoo! (No class, obviously.)
    DUEMidterm 1. Take it in the Testing Center between Wednesday, October 4, and Friday, October 6. The Testing Center will charge you a $5 late fee after 2pm Friday. Bring a pencil. Check the Testing Center hours before you go.
    • This portion of your midterm is multiple choice. (The midterm also has a take-home written portion that you already completed: Your first debate paper.) Expect 100 questions, drawing evenly on lecture and readings. Past experience suggests that most students will take 60-80 minutes on this test, though you may take as long as you wish (until the Testing Center closes).
    • The Testing Center imposes the late fee, not me. I find it foolish to pay to take a test; please take it before the fee starts.
    • I write new questions every year, making it hard for me to predict what the average score will be. If the testing center tells you that you scored 60% on the exam, don't assume you failed; I may need to drop some questions or apply a curve, but I cannot make those decisions until the test closes and I review scores.
    • If you have questions about whether I curve grades, how you can raise your grade, or the course's overall difficulty level, read through the syllabus once again. It's all covered there. If you have questions, come ask me.
  • Unit 4. Political institutions: The legislative branch
  • Tue, Oct 10th, 2017. Introduction to Congress. How can Congress be so unpopular when individual representatives are so popular? How does the structure of Congress influence how we evaluate Congress? How do reapportionment and redistricting work?
    Termstyranny; efficiency; Congress; legislature; legislator; term length; chamber size; reapportionment; redistricting; all terms from textbook
    45 pages
    • Logic, pp 214-231 [18] [23 pages]
    • Look over Logic Appendix 6 (Congressional partisanship)
    • US Constitution, Article I, Amendments 16-17 and 27 [12 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 113-23 (recommended: all of ch 5) [10 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Utah packet: Remember that all figures and tables appear at the beginning of the packet. Find them there.
    • Utah packet key concepts: General Session, single subject rule, omnibus bill, interim, party caucus, caucus, leadership, standing committee, staff, professional legislature, citizen legislature. The US Congress is the nation's most professionalized legislature, while the Utah Legislature is among the least. What would happen if we switched that?
    • Remember, the Utah Legislature is an entirely separate organization from the US Congress, with different procedures, offices, and rules. Contrast what you learn about the US Congress and the Utah Legislature. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Should both have the same structure, or should a smaller polity like Utah have a different legislative structure than a larger one like the US?
    • Learn about BYU's best internship: The Utah state legislature internship
    • Learn more in Poli 315, "Congress and the Legislative Process"
  • Thu, Oct 12th, 2017. Elections and representation. When do the "best" candidates run? Who serves in office? What creates the incumbency advantage? What is representation? How do Representatives view constituents? How does the Constitutional structure of Congress influence how Representatives behave?
    Termsstrategic entry; amateur candidate; professional candidate; wave election; incumbent; challenger; open seat; incumbency advantage; reelection incentive; advertising; credit claiming; position taking; geographic constituency; reelection constituency; primary constituency; personal constituency (or "intimates"); issue representation (or "substantive representation"); service representation; allocational representation; descriptive representation; delegate; trustee; all terms from textbook
    36 pages
    • Logic, pp 458-478 [21 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 154-65, 187-90 (recommended: all of ch 6) [15 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • If you want to complete the optional government meetings assignment to raise your lowest debate paper score, start planning. Most city councils and such meet only semimonthly.
    • Utah packet key concepts: geographic constituency etc, party delegate, delegate vs trustee, stakeholder. Note that the geographic-reelection-primary-personal framework is modified slightly here for the Utah context when compared to the Congressional version given in lecture. How does representation operate differently in the US Congress compared to the Utah Legislature? Which does a better job translating constituent opinion into policy outcomes? Why?
    • Learn about BYU's best internship: The Utah state legislature internship
    • Learn more in Poli 315, "Congress and the Legislative Process"
  • Tue, Oct 17th, 2017. Legislating. How does a bill become a law? Who is empowered by the legislative process in the House? In the Senate? How do initiatives, referendums, and recalls differ? How do initiatives get on the ballot?
    Termsbill; law; committee; Speaker; conference committee; Rules Committee; open rule; closed rule; modified closed rule; unanimous consent agreement; filibuster; cloture; initiative; direct initiative; indirect initiative; referendum; legislative referendum; popular referendum; recall; all terms from textbook
    58 pages
    • Logic, pp 231-273 [43 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 135-40, 147-9, 196-203 [15 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Enrichment 1 (optional) is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Thursday, October 19th.
    • Utah packet: Remember that all figures and tables appear at the beginning of the packet. Find them there.
    • Utah packet key concepts: "Procedures create power," voucher referendum, types of referendum and initiative. Do direct democracy processes make Utah politics better or worse? Should the US have similar processes nationwide?
    • Remember, the Utah Legislature is an entirely separate organization from the US Congress, with different procedures, offices, and rules. Contrast what you learn about the US Congress and the Utah Legislature.
    • Learn about BYU's best internship: The Utah state legislature internship
    • Learn more about direct democracy in Poli 311, "State and Local Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 315, "Congress and the Legislative Process"
  • Unit 5. Political institutions: The executive branch
  • Thu, Oct 19th, 2017. The presidency. What do we expect of American presidents? How are our expectations of presidents at odds with their formal powers? How has the presidency evolved over time? How do presidents compensate for their limited formal powers?
    DUEEnrichment 1 (optional). Read the instructions and then submit online.
    Termsbudget; OMB; veto; veto override; treaty; appointment power; filibuster; chief clerk; Andrew Jackson; Theodore Roosevelt; bully pulpit; stewardship theory; Woodrow Wilson; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; negotiation; going public; executive order; signing statement; all terms from textbook
    61 pages
    • Logic, ch 7 [42 pages]
    • Watch reknowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin recount a few lessons we can learn from past presidents: Video or transcript [7 pages]
    • US Constitution, Article II, Amendments 12, 20, 22, 23, 25 [12 pages]
    • Recommended, not required: Utah packet, ch 8
    • Encouraged, not required: Learn the presidents song.
    • Read national political news every day
    FYILearn more in Poli 314, "The US Presidency"
  • Tue, Oct 24th, 2017. The executive bureaucracy. What is a bureaucracy, and why do we need one? How is the bureaucracy structured, and what are its powers? Why and how have we increased bureaucratic independence? How do Congress and the president control the bureaucracy?
    Termsbureaucracy; Executive Office of the President; cabinet department; independent agency; merit system; regulation; implementation; oversight; police patrol; fire alarm; Federal Register; OMB; central clearance; all terms from textbook
    46 pages
    • Logic, ch 8 [41 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 109-13 [5 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Utah packet key concepts: "Working 4 Utah."
    • Learn more in Poli 314, "The US Presidency"
    • Learn more in Poli 315, "Congress and the Legislative Process"
    • Learn more in Poli 333, "Politics of Bureaucracy"
  • Unit 6. Political institutions: The judicial branch
  • Thu, Oct 26th, 2017. The judiciary. How is the federal judiciary structured? How are state judiciaries different? How did federal courts acquire the power to strike down laws? How does the Supreme Court operate? How do Supreme Court justices interpret the Constitution?
    Termscommon law; civil law; precedent; stare decisis; statutory law; constitutional law; administrative law; case law; District Court; Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. Supreme Court; trial court; specialty court; intermediate court of appeals; state supreme court; judicial review; Marbury v Madison; decision to decide; rule of four; writ of certiorari; decision on the merits; amicus curiae; majority opinion; dissenting opinion; concurring opinion; originalism; living Constitution; all terms from textbook
    46 pages
    • Logic, ch 9, at least the first 60-70% [40 pages]
    • US Constitution, Articles III, IV, V, and VI [6 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • If you want to complete the optional government meetings assignment to raise your lowest debate paper score, start planning. Most city councils and such meet only semimonthly.
    • Learn more in Poli 311, "State and Local Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 420, "Constitutional Law: American Federal System"
    • Learn more in Poli 421, "Constitutional Law: Rights and Immunities"
    • Learn more in Poli 364, "Jurisprudence"
  • Tue, Oct 31st, 2017. Continued.
    12 pages
    • Logic, finish ch 9 if needed
    • Utah packet, pp 236-7, 246-52 (recommended: all of ch 9) [9 pages]
    • Hamilton (1787), The Federalist, #78 [3 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Debate 2 is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Thursday, November 2nd.
    • Hamilton defends the Constitution's provisions for unelected judges with lifelong tenure. He argues that these provisions will guarantee judicial independence, which he characterizes as desirable under certain conditions. What are the conditions? Are those conditions met today? If not, would it be better if judges ran in elections as Republican or Democratic candidates?
    • Utah packet key concepts: merit plan, nominating commission, retention election, consensus. How might American politics change if federal judges were selected through the merit plan?
    • In the lecture resources you will find Judge Griffith's 2012 Constitution Day lecture, which gives a superb overview of Scalia's and Breyer's opposing approaches to understanding the Constitution. Watch it if you would appreciate further elucidation of these ideas, paying special attention to his discussion of the Second Amendment and the Commerce Clause.
  • Thu, Nov 2nd, 2017. Crime and punishment. What are the goals of criminal justice policy? How is justice policy made? Do "tough on crime" laws work?
    DUEDebate 2. Read the instructions and then submit online.
    Termsdeterrence; retribution/punishment; incapacitation; rehabilitation; truth-in-sentencing; three strikes; sex offender registry; mandatory sentencing guidelines; parole; probation; legislation by anecdote; crime news script; Ronnie Lee Gardner; death penalty
    48 pages
    • Yes, that's a lot of readings today, but I find them more interesting and worthwhile than most readings we'll cover this semester. Please read them thoughtfully.
    • As you read, ask yourself: What is the goal of criminal justice policy? What are we trying to accomplish when we impose jail time, fines, community service, probation, drug treatment, and other sentences? (There are several possible answers, so don't stop with one.) For example, with the frozen turkey story, how might the outcome have been different if the perpetrator were imprisoned for 25 years? Or what if Ronnie Lee Gardner had enjoyed access to youth court and drug court in his formative years rather than spending so many of those years institutionalized or incarcerated?
    • Since most of you belong to a church that believes in change and redemption, even for murderers and the vilest sinners, take time to ponder: When is rehabilitation most likely to work, and which approaches are most likely to succeed? (I suggest you click each of these links; doing so will help you figure out the relevance of some of the scriptures assigned for today.)
    • If you find the packet about Ronnie Lee Gardner interesting, here's an optional follow-up piece, written a year after the execution, and very much worth reading: "LDS bishop recounts Ronnie Lee Gardner's final days".
  • Fri, Nov 3rd, 2017. Reminder.
    FYIPeer reviews for Debate 2 are now open. Submit online by Tuesday, November 7th.
  • Tue, Nov 7th, 2017. Catch up and review.
    DUEPeer reviews for Debate 2. Submit online.
    • We will spend as much time as necessary finishing the previous lecture. I will leave the remaining time available to answer review questions.
    • If you are working on the optional government meetings assignment, schedule time now to finish going to meetings. The assignment is due soon.
    • It's getting late to apply for BYU's best internship: The Utah state legislature internship. The application deadline is coming up very soon. All majors may apply. Ask me for details.
  • Thu, Nov 9th, 2017. Yay! (No class)
    DUEMidterm 2. Take it in the Testing Center between Wednesday, November 8, and Friday, November 10. The Testing Center will charge you a $5 late fee after 2pm Friday. Bring a pencil. Check the Testing Center hours before you go.
    • This portion of your midterm is multiple choice. (The midterm also has a take-home written portion that you already completed: Your first debate paper.) Expect 100 questions, drawing evenly on lecture and readings. Past experience suggests that most students will take 60-80 minutes on this test, though you may take as long as you wish (until the Testing Center closes).
    • The Testing Center imposes the late fee, not me. I find it foolish to pay to take a test; please take it before the fee starts.
    • I write new questions every year, making it hard for me to predict what the average score will be. If the testing center tells you that you scored 60% on the exam, don't assume you failed; I may need to drop some questions or apply a curve, but I cannot make those decisions until the test closes and I review scores.
    • If you have questions about whether I curve grades, how you can raise your grade, or the course's overall difficulty level, read through the syllabus once again. It's all covered there. If you have questions, come ask me.
  • Unit 7. Political behavior: Public opinion and voting
  • Tue, Nov 14th, 2017. How voters decide. What are the major candidates and themes of recent elections? How informed are voters? How committed are voters to their party? How do voters select a candidate? Does democracy work? Which explanation of vote choice makes the most sense to you?
    Termssubstance; style; always shuck your tamales; Iran hostage crisis; Columbia model; sociological model; cross-pressure; opinion leader; minimal effects hypothesis; Downsian model; rational choice model; economic model; calculus of voting; information shortcut; endorsements; Michigan model; psychological model; funnel analogy; partisanship; perceptual screening (also called "selective perception" or "motivated reasoning"); all terms from textbook
    20 pages
    • Logic, pp 398-417 [20 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Enrichment 2 (optional) is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Thursday, November 16th.
    • Learn more in Poli 317, "Public Opinion and Voting Behavior"
    • Learn more in Poli 318, "Campaigns and Elections"
    • Learn more in Poli 324, "Political Psychology"
  • Thu, Nov 16th, 2017. How voters decide, continued.
    DUEEnrichment 2 (optional). Read the instructions and then submit online.
    28 pages
    • Logic, pp 417-434, 442-446, 454-458 [28 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
  • Tue, Nov 21st, 2017. Friday instruction. No class.
  • Thu, Nov 23rd, 2017. Thanksgiving. No class.
    FYIIt was 1863, in the deepest depths of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a regular holiday. Celebrations were sporadic prior to that time. There was so much to mourn and worry about in 1863, but Lincoln understood that even in our darkest hours we need to look on high and give thanks. May we all do so this week.
  • Tue, Nov 28th, 2017. Public opinion polling. How can you assess a poll's trustworthiness?
    Termspopulation; sample; random sample; sampling error; margin of error; convenience sample; self-selection bias; non-response error; response rate; measurement error; double barreled question; social desirability bias; Bradley effect; framing; priming
    17 pages
    • Government meeting (optional) is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Thursday, November 30th.
    • I highly recommend reading all of Joel Best's short and very readable book (Damned Lies and Statistics), not just the except I have assigned. It will dramatically increase your confidence when you hear statistical arguments on the news or in political discourse.
    • Learn more in Poli 317, "Public Opinion and Voting Behavior"
    • Learn more in Poli 318, "Campaigns and Elections"
  • Thu, Nov 30th, 2017. Turnout and engagement. Why do some people vote but others don't? Does it matter who votes? Why do Americans flunk civics quizzes? How does political knowledge relate to turnout? What can states do to influence turnout? Which mobilization tactics are most effective?
    DUEGovernment meeting (optional). Read the instructions and then submit online.
    Termscalculus of voting; civic duty; information costs; civic knowledge; byproduct theory; issue public; participation costs; motor voter; absentee voting; mobilization; GOTV; social pressure; all terms from textbook
    31 pages
    • The Popkin reading is background for the lecture material on civic knowledge, the byproduct theory, and issue publics. It is skimmable.
    • Learn more in Poli 311, "State and Local Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 317, "Public Opinion and Voting Behavior"
    • Learn more in Poli 318, "Campaigns and Elections"
    • Learn more in Poli 324, "Political Psychology"
  • Tue, Dec 5th, 2017. War and voting. How much do voters typically know and care about foreign policy? How do terrorism and war change political knowledge and voter attitudes?
    Termssoft news; hard news; foreign policy; affective; affective intelligence; mortality salience; charisma; normative; empirical
    26 pages
    • Based on Glenn's article, which presidential candidate would have been advantaged in the 2012 elections if a major terrorist attack occurred a couple months before the election? Why? What about in 2016?
    • As you read David Glenn's article, ponder: Where is the line between patriotism (love for your country) and nationalism/militarism (hate for other countries)? Would Mark Twain and President Uchtdorf answer this question differently? How can you guard yourself from crossing that line?
    • After reading Prior's article, you shouldn't just know which way political knowledge went after 9/11, you should also know why it went that way.
    • Learn more in Poli 170, "Introduction to International Relations"
    • Learn more in Poli 324, "Political Psychology"
    • Learn more in Poli 376, "US Foreign Policy"
    • Learn more in Poli 377, "National Security Affairs"
  • Unit 8. Political behavior: Political parties and interest groups
  • Thu, Dec 7th, 2017. Political parties. Why can there be only two major parties? Why do we have these two parties? What do the Republican and Democratic coalitions look like today? How do presidential nominations work? What makes horse race polling during multicandidate primary elections so unreliable?
    Termsmajor party; minor party; Duverger's law; majoritarian; proportional; wasted vote; Ralph Nader; election of 2000; realignment; party system; Republican; Democrat; King Caucus; nominating convention; primary; 1968 Democratic convention; pledged delegate; superdelegate; open primary; closed primary; semi-closed primary; runoff; volatility; momentum; Howard Dean (2004); John Kerry (2004); Hillary Clinton (2008); Barack Obama (2008); Mitt Romney (2012); all terms from textbook
    34 pages
    • Logic, ch 12, first half (or more) [23 pages]
    • Utah packet, pp 76-87 (recommended: all of ch 4) [11 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    • Debate 3 is now open. Read the instructions and then submit online by Tuesday, December 12th.
    • Utah packet key concepts: Mormon Moment, People's Party, twin relics of barbarism, "God needs Republicans," swing state, ideological polarization. When and why did Mormons begin leaning Republican?
    • Learn more in Poli 150, "Comparative Government and Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 311, "State and Local Politics"
    • Learn more in Poli 316, "American Political Parties"
    • Learn more in Poli 318, "Campaigns and Elections"
  • Tue, Dec 12th, 2017. Continued.
    DUEDebate 3. Read the instructions and then submit online.
    43 pages
    • Logic, ch 12, the rest [23 pages]
    • Read the preamble to the 2016 Republican platform and Democratic platform Then, in each platform, read the first full paragraph under each heading or subheading [20 pages]
    • Read national political news every day
    FYILearn more in Poli 316, "American Political Parties"
  • Unit 9. Time to declare as a political science major!
  • Wed, Dec 13th, 2017. Reminder.
    FYIPeer reviews for Debate 3 are now open. Submit online by Thursday, December 14th.
  • Thu, Dec 14th, 2017. What have we learned?
    DUEPeer reviews for Debate 3. Submit online.
    TermsAll terms from textbook
    17 pages
    • I am happy to discuss the pros and cons of the political science major with you at any time.
    • I train and supervise BYU's interns in the Utah legislature. Please ask me if you have questions about this internship.
    • Utah packet key concepts: political subculture, Trump's "tremendous problem" in Utah, man in the arena, delegate vs trustee.
    • Balan discusses how Arrow, Downs, Olson, and Riker changed our view of politics. You read Olson and I taught Downs; though I didn't discuss Arrow or Riker explicitly, their contributions shaped this class at many points. This brief writeup therefore presents an excellent summary of much of what you learned in this course.
    • If America's founders saw our nation today, what would surprise them? What would please or disappoint them, and how might Jefferson/Madison and Hamilton/Adams react differently to what they see? What have we learned since 1787 that they did not know, and which might have led them to change parts of the Constitution? What amendments, if any, would you propose to the US Constitution? And now that we have completed this course, how do you react to Elder Oaks's talk about the Constitution?
    • If you are unable to sell your texts, please consider donating them to me. Next time I teach this course, I will place donated books on reserve in the library. You may drop them at my office if you wish to donate them.
  • Thu, Dec 21st, 2017. Final exam ends. The final exam will be in the Testing Center throughout finals week.
    • Format. The final exam combines a midterm on the last third of the course (100 questions) with a comprehensive section reviewing material from the first two-thirds of the course (40 questions), a total of 140 questions. You already completed the take-home written portion (your third debate paper), so all that remains is the multiple choice section. If you're worried about your grade, don't forget the mercy rule described elsewhere in this syllabus.
    • Scheduling. Please do not ask to take the final examination early. It is against university policy to give final examinations outside of the scheduled final examination period. Do not make any plans that interfere with the final exam schedule. Please do not ask for exceptions except in the most extenuating medical circumstances (such as a baby's due date during finals week). I am not authorized to grant exceptions to attend weddings or other family events.
    • Review opportunities: Regular office hours and group sessions end on the last day of lecture. However, you have the following review opportunities during the exam period:
    • (Times/days to be determined.)

Important dates

  • 14 Sep 2017 (Thu)
    • Get your password
  • 21 Sep 2017 (Thu)
    • Get your password
  • 28 Sep 2017 (Thu)
    • Debate 1
  • 3 Oct 2017 (Tue)
    • Peer reviews
  • 5 Oct 2017 (Thu)
    • Midterm 1
  • 19 Oct 2017 (Thu)
    • Enrichment 1
  • 2 Nov 2017 (Thu)
    • Debate 2
  • 7 Nov 2017 (Tue)
    • Peer reviews
  • 9 Nov 2017 (Thu)
    • Midterm 2
  • 16 Nov 2017 (Thu)
    • Enrichment 2
  • 30 Nov 2017 (Thu)
    • Government meeting
  • 12 Dec 2017 (Tue)
    • Debate 3
  • 14 Dec 2017 (Thu)
    • Peer reviews
  • 16 Dec 2017 (Sat)
    • Final (first day)
  • 21 Dec 2017 (Thu)
    • Final (last day)