Course Description: This course will focus on an understanding of the origins and workings of the American and Virginia political systems. Students will study the United States and Virginia Constitutions; the structure and operations of United States and Virginia governments; the process of policy making, with emphasis on economics, foreign affairs, and civil rights issues; and the impact of the general public, political parties, interest groups and the media on policy decisions. Distinguishing characteristics of cultures are examined through literature, art, architecture, music, religion, philosophy and geography. Students will be required to write thoughtful and factually supported papers on historical topics. In addition, students will study a unit in financial literacy.
This class will teach you the skills and tools to understand yourself and others and improve and build the “hardy personality” that will help you in life. The skills you will learn in this class include time management, data analysis article analysis, note taking skills, document retrieval processes, research and documentation style paper writing.
Teaching Philosophy: I want to ensure students that they are free to express their views on the topics we discuss, no matter how different they are from other students or my own. I will share my opinion on topics from time to time, but I want to assure students that grades in my courses are not influenced by students’ expressions of views.
Furthermore, while I want a robust discussion in class of the important issues we will be exploring, I expect that all discussions will be carried out civilly and with respect for the participants. We can all learn from Alexander Hamilton’s admonition in the first Federalist Paper: “So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgement, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong side as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy.”
Familiarity with Current Events: Relevant issues concerning the Trump administration, The Congress, and the Supreme Court will be discussed in class, and you are expected to be knowledgeable about them. It is recommended that you read the daily Washington Post or New York Times; use Google News or PBS Newshour Extra for background information. You can also review CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other cable news sources, to see how the media views these stories. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or other satirical news source can also be referenced, but don’t base your entire story on them.
For this class, you will need the following
Charged iPad (Juniors)
Class essentials (Pens/Pencils, Eraser, Paper)