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About This Course
1. Citizenship: Making Government Work: Introduction to the nature of government. What purpose
does it serve? What it means to be an American citizen. What are
the obligations of citizenship? What makes a good citizen?
2. The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?: Our Constitution inspires reverence among many, but
there has always been tension over how it should be interpreted...
3. Federalism: U.S. v. the States: Whether the national government or the states should have power over a
policy area remains, as this unit demonstrates, an important and
4. Civil Liberties: Safeguarding the Individual:
Rather than viewing constitutional rights as absolute
guarantees, the Supreme Court has, as the stories in this unit demonstrate,
attempted to balance the conflicting interests of society.
5. Civil Rights: Demanding Equality: Civil rights, the equal treatment of people, would
seem axiomatic in a nation that cherishes the promise of the Declaration
of Independence. Yet equality has, as the stories show, often been
honored in the abstract and denied in reality.
6. Legislatures: Laying Down the Law: Explore the complex conception of representation and
the often contradictory expectations placed on legislators.
7. The Modern Presidency: Tools of Power: Although the presidency offers a range of formal powers,
modern presidents grapple with the inherent limitations of the office
and often have difficulty fulfilling public expectations.
8. Bureaucracy: A Controversial Necessity: Criticisms of governmental bureaucracy are easy to
find and while this unit does not ignore the problems inherent in
bureaucratic organizations, the video stories provide illustrations
that promote critical thinking, not jingoistic responses.
9. The Courts: Our Rule of Law: Central to American democracy is a commitment to the rule of law. This
unit illustrates the complexity of the U.S. judicial systems and
questions how much power courts should have.
10. Understanding Media: The Inside Story: This unit describes how news is defined by the media
and explains why public officials and journalists are highly interdependent.
Nevertheless, the important mediating role played by the media requires
an informed, media-savvy public.
11. Public Opinion: Voice of the People: This unit explores the questions of what role should
public opinion play in American politics? and How do we identify
12. Political Parties: Mobilizing Agents: Although often maligned, political parties play a vital
role in connecting the American public and political decision-makers.
13. Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy: Do elections really matter? If so, why do so many Americans
fail to vote?
14. Interest Groups: Organizing To Influence: This unit explores the nature of interest groups, sometimes
referred to as special interests, as a powerful extension to the
citizens political voice.
15. Global Politics: USA and the World: With the end of the Cold War and the dramatic increase
of global interaction, American foreign policy has entered a period