This course will cover American political thought from the nation’s early, formative years as a fledgling republic through the 1960s, exploring the political theories that have shaped its system of governance.
This course will cover American political thought from the nation’s early, formative years as a fledgling republic through the 1960s, exploring the political theories that have shaped its system of governance. As there is no one philosopher or idea that represents the totality of American political thought, you will survey the writings and speeches of those who have had the greatest impact over this period of time.
You will begin by examining pre-revolutionary thought before moving on to the ideals and debates that brought forth the Constitution and the American governmental structure. Next, you will study the people and events that shaped the emergent nation, delving into concepts such as individualism, capitalism, and industrialism. You will also investigate the notions of slavery, equality, social progressivism, as well as the ideals explored in the civil rights movement.
You will notice that much of the study required in this course is based on the original texts and speeches of those who influenced political thought throughout American history. You will learn and evaluate through their eyes and will discover the impact that their views and actions have had on the modern American state. You are encouraged to identify their continued influence upon current political and social systems.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Describe the religious and political origins of the American political system.
- Explain how Enlightenment thinkers, such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacque Rousseau, and Baron de Montesquieu, influenced the political philosophies of American founding fathers.
- Analyze how the colonial American experience shaped many of the core values represented in American government and expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
- Compare and contrast the differing opinions on the role of the government that the founders expressed.
- Trace the development and evolution of the concepts of “states rights” and “federal (national) supremacy.”
- Connect the observations of De Tocqueville in Democracy in America to the concepts of equality, individuality, and civic engagement in American political discourse.
- Examine the evolution of race in the American political system (from slavery to the 2008 election of Barack Obama).
- Discuss the changes in the political role of women in America from its colonial days to the present.
- Connect the concept of “American Exceptionalism” to the industrial revolution, capitalism, and imperialism.
- Analyze the roots of reform in the Progressive Era and their impact on modern political discourse.
- Explain major principles of American foreign relations over time.
- Assess the purpose and impact of “American war rhetoric” over time.
- Differentiate between “liberal” and “conservative” political beliefs in modern American government.
- Illustrate how the political turmoil in the 1960s greatly shaped contemporary American political discourse.
- Evaluate the current political discourse as represented in the 2008 and 2010 elections.
More info: http://www.saylor.org/courses/polsc301/