POL 4315W: State Governments: Laboratories of Democracy

3 CreditsWriting Intensive

State governments are rarely at the forefront of the minds of the American public, but in recent years they have made critical decisions about issues like education, health care, climate change, and same-sex marriage. State governments perform a host of vital services, and they regulate and tax a wide array of business activities. Moreover, the states have adopted a very wide range of approaches in addressing these and other policy issues. This course examines the institutional and political changes that sparked the recent “resurgence of the states,” and it investigates why state policies differ so dramatically from one another. In addition to playing a central and increasingly important role in the U.S. political system, the American states provide an unusually advantageous venue in which to conduct research about political behavior and policymaking. They are broadly similar in many ways, but they also offer significant variation across a range of social, political, economic, and institutional characteristics that are central to theories about politics. As a result, it becomes possible for scholars to evaluate hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships in a valid way. This course pursues two related objectives. Its first goal is to give students a better understanding of American state governments’ substantive significance. Its second goal is to use the states as an analytical venue in which students can hone their research and writing skills. Students will design and complete an original research paper on an aspect of state politics of their choosing. They will develop a research question, gather and critically evaluate appropriate and relevant evidence, and discuss the implications of their research. prereq: 1001 or equiv, non-pol sci grad major or instr consent

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B Average (3.127)Most Common: B (22%)

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