POL S 351 A Su 19: The American Democracy

POL S 351 A Su 19: The American Democracy

Political Science 351: The American Democracy

University of Washington

Savery Hall 164, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:20-4:30

Summer 2019, Full Term



Instructor: Stephanie Stanley, PhC.

Contact Info: stephs23@uw.edu

Office: Smith 31

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11:00-12:00 & by appt.

Course Website: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1331333

(Grades posted on catalyst.uw.edu)


Course Overview:


Is America democratic? What is democracy? What do we do when different dimensions of democracy collide? Are there costs to democracy? This course will explore these questions through a combination of historical analysis, studying current events, thinking through and applying democratic theory, and analyzing empirical research. We will assess how democratic American institutions (Congress, Presidency, and the Courts) are, the components of democratic citizenship, and how civil rights and civil liberties influence state-citizen/ citizen-citizen interactions.


The first part of this course will explore democratic theory and constructing a multi-faceted definition of democracy. We will then discuss the American founding and investigate the democratic debates, successes, and failures of the early American state. After that, we turn to American institutions (Congress, Presidency, and the Courts) and elections, applying our robust definition of democracy to assess how well the American state upholds democratic principles. Finally, the third unit of the course will focus on civil liberties with a strong emphasis on the First Amendment civil liberties. This unit will include some historical background on specific rights, theoretical implications of rights, contemporary controversies concerning these rights, and how rights come in conflict with other rights and democratic principles.


A hybrid of active learning, interactive lectures and class discussions will highlight key historical changes and critical debates that persist today within American politics. This course will strongly emphasize the trade-offs between good policies and good principles and how good rights and principles can conflict with each other. Grades for this course will be based on five components: course participation, a reading presentation, a midterm, a term paper, and a final exam. All readings will be available online or sent via your university email.


Course Conduct:


  1. Attend class ready to engage with course material and contribute to discussions.
  2. Always bring your reading, pen/pencil, and paper to every class.
  3. Do the required readings and be prepared to contribute to the class discussion. For full participation credit, you must come to class and engage in group work, class discussions, writing workshops, etc. on a regular basis. If speaking in front of others in class discussions is especially difficult for you, please let me know during the first week of the term so I can accommodate you as best as I can.
  4. If you will be late to class or have to leave early, please let me know before the class begins. Otherwise, please do your best to be on time.
  5. Be prepared for short written assignments or quizzes that may be given without advanced notice.
  6. You are responsible to contact fellow students for the classes you miss. If you cannot contact a fellow student, I am available to catch you up.
  7. Be respectful of others. It is important to remember that politics tends to be personal, and disrespect will not be tolerated.
  8. Cell phones are not permitted during class. Computers and tablets may be used during our discussion of class readings but not during lecture without permission.



Accommodations and University Policies:


Respectful Learning Environment


Instructors and students come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide array of life experiences. It is vital that we respect individual differences, divergent beliefs, and a variety of worldviews. Some of the course material may be at odds with your personal beliefs. Please approach the course content and others’ views with respect and sensitivity. Also, I want you all to feel comfortable expressing your opinions and thoughts during lectures and discussions, even if you do not think others agree with you. Having more than one perspective can contribute to a richer learning experience, as long as conversations remain respectful and civil.


Disabilities Accommodations


I am more than willing to accommodate students with a documented disability (physical, learning, or psychological). If you require special accommodations, please obtain the official paper work from Disability Resources for Students (https://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs) and forward it to me by the end of the first week of class. Please feel free to meet with me to discuss any accommodations, and rest assured that all of our conversations will remain confidential. 


UW Resources:


Political Science Writing Center: http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/


Plagiarism Policy:

-Assignments in this course may be reviewed by VeriCite or other plagiarism detection software.

-If you copy any work (published, online, another student’s work, etc.) and claim it as your own you will receive a zero for the plagiarized assignment, and you will be reported to the university.

-The rule of thumb is if it is not your idea, you need to cite it! When in doubt, cite it!

-For a full explanation of plagiarism please see the link below.



UW’s Code of Conduct:



Class Make-Up Policy:


  1. If you can, please email me beforeclass to let me know you can’t make it.
  2. In order to make up the points you missed during class, type up a 100-word response to that day’s readings. Your response should include some of the following: summary, analysis, response, and/or questions on one or all of the readings.
  3. Email me your response within 24 hours of the class you missed. You may request more time depending on your circumstances.
  4. You are permitted up to two make-ups during the term. If your circumstances are special (long-term family emergency, personal injury, etc.), I will be more than happy to give you more make up opportunities given sufficient documentation.


***Please note that you are not requiredto complete any make up for the classes you miss. Make-ups, although highly recommended, are optional. ****


Course Requirements/ Evaluation:


Participation- 15%


Participation grades will be based on contributions to class discussions, involvement in class activities, group work, short in-class writing assignments, and other in-class work. Please note that a student cannot receive full credit for participating simply by attending class.


Reading Presentation- 10%


Each student is required to give in an in-class presentation of one course reading. The presentation must include a summary of the reading (main argument, key claims, evidence, summary/ findings), a critique of the reading (limitations, counter-arguments, etc.), connections to course material to date, and two to three discussion questions posted on Canvas at least 24 hours before class. Students will sign up for reading presentations during the first week of instruction.


Midterm*- 25%


The midterm exam will be an in-class, essay-based exam and will require a large blue/green book and blue/black pens.


Paper*- 25%


The paper will be a research paper about Constitutional rights six to eight pages in length that will include a paper proposal, paper outline, final paper, and in-class paper presentation. Specific instructions on each part of the paper assignment will be given by the end of the first week of instruction.


Final*- 25%


The final exam will follow the same format of the midterm exam and will take place on the last day of class.


*Please bring a blank large blue or green book with all of its pages intact and blue or black pens to class on the day of the exams. Unless you have an excusable absence and the required documentation, no make-up exams or extensions on papers will be granted.



Grading Policy:


I will be grading your work this term, and I am willing to explain the reasoning behind your grade should you have any questions. If you wish to appeal your grade formally, you should follow this process:

  1. Wait at least 24 hours after you receive your graded assignment before you file an appeal.
  2. Within a week of receiving your grade, provide a written statement specifically describing why you believe you did not receive a fair grade. Then I will reassess your assignment. Note that your grade may be raised, lowered, or left unchanged.
  3. We will then meet and discuss your grade and outcome of your re-grade in person.


Writing Credit


This course has a writing credit option. If you would like to get writing credit for this course, you must notify me by 5 pm on July 5, 2019 to make the necessary arrangements. Students who opt into the writing credit must meet the following requirements:


1) 10-page research paper, with a rough draft and final draft. Students are expected to apply the feedback from the rough draft to their final draft.

2) Two papers of at least 5-pages or three papers with one of at least 5 pages. Students are expected to apply feedback from the first paper to (a) subsequent paper(s).












Course Schedule:


The first 50-60 minutes of class will include an active learning lecture, and then, following about a 10-minute break, the rest of class will include a seminar style discussion on the assigned reading and ideas from the first half of class.


Week 1: Course Introduction & Democratic Theory (June 25 &27)



Tues: No reading






Week 2: The American Founding and Democracy (July 2 & 4)









Thurs: No Class (Independence Day Holiday)


Week 3: The Democratic State (July 9 & 11)



Tues: The Judiciary (Goldstein, “Judicial Review and Democratic Theory”)

Thurs: Congress (Mansbridge, “Rethinking Representation,” Disch, “Towards a   Mobilization Concept”)

            Paper Proposal Due July 11


Week 4: The Democratic State (July 16 & 18)



Tues: The Presidency (Deering and Maltzman, "The Politics of Executive Orders")

            Thurs: Elections (Bailey “Two Sides of Money,” Stone, “Electoral Exceptionalism”)


Week 5: Exam 1& Democratic Citizenship (July 23 & 25)


Tues: Exam 1(in class, no reading)

Thurs: Basics of Citizenship (Coffe and Bolzendahl, “Partisan Cleavages”)


Week 6: Democratic Citizenship & Civil Liberties (July 30 & August 1)


Tues: Citizenship and Voting, (Katzenstein et al, “Felony Disenfranchisement”)

Thurs: Free Press (Butler, “A Free Press;” Bunting, “Bible/Ax/Tablet”)

            Paper Outline Due Aug 1


Week 7: Civil Liberties: Free Speech (August 6 & 8)


Tues: Free Speech/ Hate Speech (Mill, “On Liberty” Ch. 2 PDF pp. 18-34)

            End at “until we again assert our mental freedom”

Thurs: Free Speech/ Dissent (Mill, “On Liberty” Ch. 2 PDF pp. 34-52)

            Start at “Let us now pass to the second division of the argument…”


Week 8: Civil Liberties: Religion, Rights, and Democracy (August 13 & 15)


Tues: Dreisbach, “The Meaning of the Separation of Church and State”

Thurs: Jelen, “Religious Liberty as a Democratic Institution”


Week 9: Course Conclusion, Final Papers &Exam 2(August 20 & 22)

No Reading

Tues:Final Papers Due, Paper Presentations, and Final Exam Review

Thurs:Exam 2(in class, no reading)

Course Summary:

Date Details Due