POL 3329: The Balance of Power: Federalism & Community in the United States

3 Credits

The appropriate balance of power between the national government and the states has been the subject of intense debate since the United States became an independent country in the eighteenth century, and it has never been resolved. This unresolved controversy has profound democratic and policy implications. Some of the political and social rights that are part and parcel of what it means to be a member of the American community are influenced by geography and the specific state in which an individual resides. For example, state governments make numerous decisions that define voter eligibility, an especially important form of community membership and political participation. In addition, federalism strongly affects the policymaking process. In fields as diverse as environmental protection and health care, the relationship between the national government and the states affects which policies are adopted and how they work in practice. While federalism is rarely at the forefront of the minds of the American public, it plays a central and increasingly important role in the U.S. political system. This course seeks to give students a better understanding of American federalism. By examining both the historical evolution of intergovernmental relations in the United States and contemporary policy debates, it also aims to help students develop the substantive knowledge and analytical skills they need to become critical thinkers. All of the writing assignments that students will complete in the course have been designed with this objective in mind, and the course will emphasize systematic thinking about politics, the explication of logically coherent arguments, and the use of relevant and appropriate empirical evidence to evaluate those arguments. The successful development of the critical thinking and writing skills emphasized in this course will enable students to communicate effectively in a variety of future roles, including as employees and citizens.

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All Instructors

B+ Average (3.347)Most Common: A (26%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

133 students
  • 4.55


  • 5.00


  • 4.67


  • 4.43


  • 5.00



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