American Government

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Course Contents at a Glance

an icon of a pair of binoculars The following list shows a summary of the topics covered in this course. To see all of the course pages, visit the Table of Contents.

Module 1: American Government and Civic Engagement

  • What is Government?
  • Who Governs? Elitism, Pluralism, and Tradeoffs
  • Engagement in a Democracy

Module 2: The Constitution and Its Origins

  • The Pre-Revolutionary Period and the Roots of the American Political Tradition
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • The Development of the Constitution
  • The Ratification of the Constitution
  • Constitutional Change

Module 3: American Federalism

  • The Division of Powers
  • The Evolution of American Federalism
  • Intergovernmental Relationships
  • Competitive Federalism Today
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism

Module 4: Civil Liberties

  • What Are Civil Liberties?
  • Securing Basic Freedoms
  • The Rights of Suspects
  • Interpreting the Bill of Rights

Module 5: Civil Rights

  • What Are Civil Rights and How Do We Identify Them?
  • The African American Struggle for Equality
  • The Fight for Women’s Rights
  • Groups: Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians
  • Equal Protection for Other Groups

Module 6: The Politics of Public Opinion

  • The Nature of Public Opinion
  • How Is Public Opinion Measured?
  • What Does the Public Think?
  • The Effects of Public Opinion

Module 7: Voting and Elections

  • Voter Registration
  • Voter Turnout
  • Elections
  • Campaigns and Voting
  • Direct Democracy

Module 8: The Media

  • What Is the Media?
  • The Evolution of the Media
  • Regulating the Media
  • The Impact of the Media

Module 9: Political Parties

  • What Are Parties and How Did They Form?
  • The Two-Party System
  • The Shape of Modern Political Parties
  • Divided Government and Partisan Polarization

Module 10: Interest Groups and Lobbying

  • Interest Groups Defined
  • Collective Action and Interest Group Formation
  • Interest Groups as Political Participation
  • Pathways of Interest Group Influence
  • Free Speech and the Regulation of Interest Groups

Module 11: Congress

  • The Institutional Design of Congress
  • Congressional Elections
  • Congressional Representation
  • House and Senate Organizations
  • The Legislative Process

Module 12: The Presidency

  • The Design and Evolution of the Presidency
  • The Presidential Election Process
  • Organizing to Govern
  • The Public Presidency
  • Presidential Governance: Direct Presidential Action

Module 13: The Courts

  • Guardians of the Constitution and Individual Rights
  • The Dual Court System
  • The Federal Court System
  • The Supreme Court
  • Judicial Decision-Making and Implementation by the Supreme Court

Module 14: State and Local Government

  • State Power and Delegation
  • State Political Culture
  • Governors and State Legislatures
  • State Legislative Term Limits
  • County and City Government

Module 15: The Bureaucracy

  • Bureaucracy and the Evolution of Public Administration
  • Toward a Merit-Based Civil Service
  • Understanding Bureaucracies and their Types
  • Controlling the Bureaucracy

Module 16: Domestic Policy

  • What Is Public Policy?
  • Categorizing Public Policy
  • Policy Arenas
  • Policymakers
  • Budgeting and Tax Policy

Module 17: Foreign Policy

  • Defining Foreign Policy
  • Foreign Policy Instruments
  • Institutional Relations in Foreign Policy
  • Approaches to Foreign Policy

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