American Government II

Western Texas College
Department of Social Sciences

  1. Basic Course Information
    1. Course description - Introductory course in the theory and practice of government and politics in America at the national, state, and local levels, with special emphasis on Texas. Topic include: Legislative, executive, and judicial functions at national and state levels; bureaucracies; local governments; domestic policy; foreign policy. Note: GOVT 2302 will complete one-half of the legislative requirements in American government.
    2. Prerequisites - Student should have a proficiency in reading and writing.
  2. Student Learning Outcomes
    1. The student will evaluate political essays for argument, purpose, point of view, reasoning, and reliability by completing a minimum score of 70 on a departmental issued article evaluation exercise.
    2. The student will analyze contemporary political events by completing a minimum score of 70 in a written essay of 300 words or more.
  3. Major Course Requirements
    1. Exams:  There will be three to four major exams spaced throughout the semester. Exam questions may include any combination of the following: True/false, multiple choice, fill in the blanks, short answer, and essay.
    2. Writing Assignments: There will be multiple writing assignments spaced throughout the semester.
    3. Collaborative Exercises: There will be multiple collaborative exercises spaced throughout the semester. Each of these assignments will require you to work with your peers analyzing documents, articles, and other information relating to the study of government.
    4. Forum/Discussion Participation: There will be several discussion forums spaced throughout the semester. Each discussion will take place on-line, making use of the College's on-line platform—Moodle.
  4. Information on Books and Other Course Materials





    American Government and Politics Today 2011-2012 Edition

    Steffen W. Schmidt


    15th Edition

    Texas Politics Today, 2011-2012 Edition,

    William Earl Maxwell


    15th Edition

    Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Political Issues

    George McKenna, Stanley Feingold


    18th Edition

  1. Other Policies: Please refer to the WTC Course Catalog for the following:
    1. Campus Calendar
    2. Final Exam schedule
    3. How to drop a class
    4. Withdrawal information
    5. Student Conduct/Academic Integrity
    6. Students with disabilities.
  2. Course Organization & Tentative Schedule*
Date Topic Reading Assignments

Week 1

Course Introduction

What is Critical Thinking?

Taking Sides Handouts

Week 2-3

Legislative Functions

Schmidt, Chapters 12 & 24

Taking Sides, Issue 6: Is Congress a “Broken Branch”?

Week 4-5

Executive Functions

Schmidt, Chapters 13 & 25
Taking Sides, Issue 4: Does the President Have Unilateral War Powers?

Week 6-7

Judicial Functions


Schmidt, Chapters 15 & 26
Taking Sides, Issue 5: Should the Courts Seek the “Original Meaning” of the Constitution?

Week 8-9

Domestic Policy

Schmidt, Chapters 16 & 27
Taking Sides, Issue 14: Stopping Illegal Immigration: Should Border Security Come First?

Week 10

Economic Policy

Schmidt, Chapter 17
Issue 22: Should Federal Taxes be Increased?

Week 11-12

Foreign Policy

Schmidt, Chapter 18
Taking Sides, Issue 2: Is Democracy the Answer to Global Terrorism?

Week 13


Schmidt, Chapters 14

Week 14

Local Government

Schmidt, Chapter 28

Week 15

Dead Week/Review


Week 16

Final Exam



*The above schedule, policies, procedures, and assignments in this course are subject to change.


Last Modified: August 18, 2015