American Government
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American Government Course Outline

How does civic engagement shape American Government?

Concepts Covered:


  • What is government?
  • What is the pluralism-elitism debate?

What are the origins of the U.S. Constitution?

Concepts Covered:


  • How did the Pre-Revolutionary Period share the American political tradition?
  • What are the Articles of Confederation?
  • How was the Constitution developed?
  • What steps are required to ratify the Constitution?
  •  How can the Constitution be amended?

How did American Federalism begin and evolve?

Concepts Covered:


  • Why must power be divided between different levels of government?
  • How has American Federalism evolved?
  • What are federal intergovernmental grants?
  • What does competitive federalism look like today?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of federalism?

How are civil liberties balance against the interests of society?

Concepts Covered:


  • What are civil liberties?
  • How do we secure basic freedoms?
  • What rights do criminal suspects have?
  • How is the Bill of Rights interpreted?

Why are civil rights important?

Concepts Covered:


  • What are civil rights and how do we identify them?
  • How have African Americans struggled for equality throughout history?
  • How has the fight for women’s rights evolved?
  • What civil rights do indigenous groups have?
  • How is equal protection for other groups achieved?

What are the politics of public opinion?

Concepts Covered:


  • What is the nature of public opinion?
  • How is public opinion measured?
  • What does the public think?
  • What are the effects of public opinion?

How are citizens compelled to vote and participate in elections?

Concepts Covered:


  • How does the government promote voter rights and registration?
  • What factors affect voter turnout?
  • What is the election process?
  • How do political campaigns reach out to voters?
  • Why is direct democracy important?

What influence does the media have on the American Government and its citizens?

Concepts Covered:


  • What is the media?
  • How has the media evolved over time?
  • How is the media regulated?
  • Why is the media so impactful?

Why are political parties necessary for a true democracy?

Concepts Covered:


  • What are political parties, and how did they form?
  • What is the two-party system?
  • How are modern political parties shaped?
  • What are the problems and benefits of a divided government and partisan polarization?

How and why are interest groups formed?

Concepts Covered:


  • How are interest groups defined?
  • What is collective action, and how does it affect interest group formation?
  • How do interest groups serve as a means for political participation?
  • In what ways do interest groups influence the government?
  • How are interest groups regulated?

How does Congress function?

Concepts Covered:


  • What is the institutional design of Congress?
  • How are congressional elections shaped?
  • What are the basics of congressional representation?
  • How are the House and Senate organized?
  • What are the steps of the legislative process?

What role does the presidency play in American Government?

Concepts Covered:


  • How was the presidency designed, and how has it evolved?
  • What are the stages of the presidential election process?
  • How is power transferred peacefully between presidents?
  • In what ways do presidents appeal to the public for approval?
  • What direct power can presidents exercise, and what powers must they negotiate?

How does the court system work?

Concepts Covered:


  • How has the role of courts evolved over time?
  • What is the dual court system?
  • How does the federal court system operate?
  • What are the main functions and responsibilities of the Supreme Court?
  • How does the Supreme Court make and implement its decisions?

What role does state a local government play in our lives?

Concepts Covered:


  • What powers do state governments have?
  • How is state political culture shaped?
  • What are the responsibilities of governors and state legislatures?
  • What are the benefits and disadvantages of state legislative term limits?
  • Why is county and city government important?

Who makes and enforces the rules of bureaucracy?

Concepts Covered:


  • How has bureaucracy and public administration evolved in the U.S.?
  • What is merit-based civil service?
  • What are the different types of federal bureaucracies and their functions?
  • How do various government bodies work to control the bureaucracy?

How is domestic policy determined and enforced?

Concepts Covered:


  • What is public policy?
  • How is public policy categorized?
  • What are the key domestic arenas of public policy?
  • How do policymakers influence the political process?
  • How is budgeting and tax policy handled by the U.S. government?

What are the main foreign policy goals of the U.S.?

Concepts Covered:


  • How is foreign policy defined?
  • What are the instruments of foreign policy?
  • How do institutional relations dictate foreign policy?
  • What are the different approaches to foreign policy?

About the book

American Government

American Government is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the single-semester American government course. This title includes innovative features designed to enhance student learning, including Insider Perspective features and a Get Connected Module that shows students how they can get engaged in the political process. The book provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of American government and understand how those concepts apply to their lives and the world around them. American Government includes updated information on the 2016 presidential election.

About the authors:

Senior Contributing Authors

Glen Krutz (Content Lead), University of Oklahoma
Sylvie Waskiewicz,
PhD (Lead Editor)

Contributing Authors

Joel Webb, Tulane University
Shawn Williams, Campbellsville University
Rhonda Wrzenski, Indiana University Southeast
Tonya Neaves, George Mason University
Adam Newmark, Appalachian State University
Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State University
Prosper Bernard, Jr., City University of New York
Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University
Christopher Lawrence, Middle Georgia State College
Jennifer Danley-Scott, Texas Woman’s University

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