This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2016-2017

POLS 13181-2: State Government and Politics

This course is not currently available. Please visit the Courses section for current offerings.

Instructor: Jeffrey Harden

This course examines the politics and policy making of sub-national governments in the U.S., focusing almost exclusively on the American states. We will examine all fifty states, considering their similarities and differences and focusing on how these similarities and differences help us understand general theories of politics. My hope is that this course will give you a foundation of basic knowledge, a growing curiosity about state politics, and some improved theoretical and analytic tools. This is a political science course, not a current events course. We will consider different definitions and theories of politics. We will explore theories of how politics works rather than just pursue description. Theories offer explanations for why things happen the way they do. Theories are necessarily abstract—boiling down explanations to fundamental principles. We will not spend time debating ideological issues regarding what is “right” or “wrong.” Ideological debates tend to generate much heat but very little light. Accordingly, we will focus on what states do and why, but we will keep the normative evaluations to a minimum.

What follows is a general plan for the course. I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus and/or the course during the semester as needed.