About POLS 1300 A

Institutions, processes, and problems of American government. Credit not awarded for both POLS 1300 and POLS 1013.


Open to Degree and PACE students;

Section Description

U.S. Political System Professor Alec Ewald Spring 2024 Many Americans today, whether they place themselves on the political “right,” or “left,” or neither, express extremely strong doubts about how well our political institutions and process work. In fact, even some cautious and careful observers insist we need to ask whether the American political system has actually failed. All this calls to mind that famous old mixed blessing – “May you live in interesting times” – and brings energy, even urgency, to the study of American politics. This class is guided by four main thematic questions. First, what are the different forms and types of power that structure American politics and government? Second, to what degree do American political ideals and realities align? Third, what are the key paradoxes in American politics, and are those paradoxes strengths or weaknesses of our political life? Fourth, what have been the essential changes in American government – and is our political history essentially a story of change, or resistance to change? The course also includes extended study of the ways intense partisan polarization is transforming not only how our political institutions work, but how individual Americans actually think. In addition to a conventional textbook and a recent book on polarization by a prominent political journalist, we’ll use an instructor-designed course-pack composed of readings drawn from history, law, and current affairs, as well as the discipline of political science.

Section Expectation

Engaged daily reading and preparation; ability to write frequent informal reading responses; two exams, each including some writing; discussion participation; cumulative final. No previous knowledge of American political institutions is required.


Frequent informal writing in response to homework; two exams; a few low-stakes quizzes; cumulative final exam.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


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Interest Form

POLS 1300 A is closed to new enrollment.

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