Pol Sci

INSTRUCTOR:       Dr. Alan M. Kirshner

TEXTBOOKS:         Alan Kirshner,  In The Course of Human Events: Essays in American Government, 6th ed., 2009 ISBN 10: 0-558-05285-1(READ: HE)
                                   O'Connor & Sabato, Essentials of American Government, 2011 E-BOOK EDITION (READ: OS) (This text is free online with the purchase of Alan Kirshner’s textbook.)


INFORMATION ON HOW TO USE E-BOOK & ONLINE RESOURCES: With the purchase of In the Course of Human Events: Essays in American Government you will obtain information about using that Pearson textbooks designed for our class. Included is the free use (well it comes with the purchase of In the Course of Human Events) of the O'Connor and Sabato textbook. There will be some required reading in this textbook as well. You will find them on the Calendar as OS with the chapter number and name following.

To get online you will need the serial number in the booklet shrink wrapped to the textbook. If you bought a used copy of my book you will be able to purchase an access code online when you go to register. To register go to http://www.mypearsoncafe.com/ca/ohlone/mypoliscilab.  Upon successful registration, you will receive confirmation screen and e-mail.  Close confirmation screen and go back to URL to login. You will click on the link that says "MyPoliSciLab."  There are many other links on the page.  All are at your disposal--free of charge. 

Please retain your login name and password for future access to the site. The textbook you will see at our political science site is the 2009 edition of O'Conner and Sabato. For some strange reason Pearson gave us the Texas edition.  I guess it must be cheaper than California. ;)  If you need assistance with registration or login process:  http://247.support.pearsoned.com or 1 (800) 677-6337.

If you have an iPad you can get an app to take you to your textbook and save it offline.  The app is called Pearson eText.  You will first have to register online because to get the app you will need to enter you registration name and password.


The nature of constitutional government in America and the theory and practices of democracy.  Problems of individual rights, popular representation and responsible leadership are emphasized.


In additional to the usual lectures and student note taking, a series of  other classroom activities may occur--discussions, informal debates, multi-media presentations and nano-lectures(sometimes known as Kirshner's sermons).


An exact average of two exams and the total of all completed interfaces! Click on the following items to view copies of a partial word lists (suitable for printing or exporting as text) for my Mid-Term Exam WORD LIST and Final Exam WORD LIST


If you fail to officially withdraw and you have answered "HERE!"  (or a facsimile) to my roll call at any time, I will have no choice but to give you an F  in this course.  I will not change an F to an I (certainly not to a "W") once I have submitted my grades


You may take this course credit/no-credit. I am not informed as to who takes the  course C/NC, nor do I need to be.  


On your daily assignment sheet you will notice due dates for twenty(20) interfaces. The interfaces (worksheets) are located at http:// www2.ohlone.edu/people/akirshner/interfaces.html.  Each interface is worth a maximum of five points when completed and submitted on the day assigned.  This total of 100 points is your third grade for the course. Interface worksheets are to be completed and no question is to be left unanswered. Points are provided for an attempted answer--right, wrong, maybe and opinion. 

Interfaces will drop one point for each day they are turned in late.  Since I may not have attendence sheet available, you must let me know of the interface you submit when you were absent and when you returned to class so I can count the days from  your return to class. I will not make any exceptions to this policy. Well, except with a doctor’s note or you let me know in advance that you have left our world.  Obviously, after five days all interfaces are disconnected and no points can be obtained for submission. I will explain the reason for this in class.

Please print off the copy of what you sent me immediately and bring it to class as we will go over them.  The copy also serves as your proof  that you sent the interfaces as they are time stamped. If you inform me that you turned in an interface that I did not place on the grade sheet and you do not have this time stamped receipt, I cannot verify you turned it in. I will post grades periodically online at http://www2.Ohlone.edu/people/akirshner/gradesps.html  .


You will find a questionnaire at http://www.kirshnerisms.com/questionnaire.html which must be downloaded and completed according to the schedule found on your assignment sheet (after first exam). Where do you find the answers? Any place you like--including your memory banks!


Academic dishonesty defrauds all those who depend upon the integrity of the college, its courses, and its degrees and certificates.  Students are expected to follow the ethical standards required in Ohlone courses.  These standards are defined in the "Policy on Academic Dishonesty."   Violations of this policy include cheating and plagarism. If you cheat on an exam you will obtain a 0 on the exam and an F in the course.  Once I enter the F grade you will not be able to take a W for the course.


The student has the right and shares the responsibility to exercise the freedom to learn.  The student is expected to conduct himself/herself in accordance with the standards of the College that are designed to perpetuate its educational purposes.

Too many people today view the world with a sense of personal entitlement.  They harbor a belief they are somehow entitled to a grade, a degree, a job, a raise, a mortgage, a home, the good life in general; rather than recognizing most of these things actually need to be earned.  We need to keep our commitment to a general and liberal education, with critical thinking as a core focus.  Personal assumptions and beliefs need continual reflection and scrutiny under the bright lights of reality and social awareness.  A sense of entitlement is difficult to maintain if one truly thinks in a critical manner.”  From Dr. Jim Wright, Ohlone College’s Vice President of  Academic Affairs, February 23, 2009


                                  PS 102 meeting Monday,Wednesday

                                   PS102 meeting Tuesday and Thursday

I. Introduction to American Government
    A. What is Politics?
          1. Four Historic Definitions
          2. Local, State, Federal
   B. Who Rules?
         1. Democratic Pluralism (Hyperpluralism)
          2. Participatory Democracy
          3. Elitism
          4. Machiavellian Interpretation
          5. Bureaucrats
   C. Political Values--Philosophies of the Framers of the Constitution
   D. Political Terminology
   E. Political Systems vs. Economic Systems
          1. Capitalism
          2. Socialism
          3. Communism
   F. Political Structure

II. Democracy
   A. Theories of Democracy
   B. A 300 Year History of the American People
          1. African-American        
          2. Hispanic-Americans
          3. Women
          4. Homosexuals
          5. Immigrants (legal and undocumented)

III. Democracy and the U.S. Constitution
   A. Electoral College
   B. Checks and Balances
   C. Separation of Powers
   D. California's Direct Democracy
          1. Recall
          2. Initiative
          3. Referendum
          4. Primaries

IV. Federalism
  A. Territories to Statehood
  B. Regionalism
  C. Federal vs. Unitary vs.  Confederal

VII. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
   A. Civil Liberties: Theory and Practice
   B. Civil Rights: Theory and Practice
   C. The Constitution and Liberties
          1. History to 14th Amendment (1868)
          2. History after 14th Amendment--Incorporation
          3. State Responses to Nationalization of Civil Liberties

MID-TERM EXAM Click to see a sample mid-term exam also samples of great answers.

VIII. Grass Roots Politics (Local, State, Federal)
    A. Public Opinion
    B. The Mass Media
    C. Elections and Voters
    D. The Two-Party System
    E. Power Politics

IX. The Executive Branch of the U.S Government
    A. Leadership and Charisma
    B. The Presidency
    C. Executive Agencies
    D. Interest Groups

X. The Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government
    A. Congress
    B. How a bill becomes a law
    C. Legislation at the state and local levels

XI. The Judicial System
    A. Federal
    B. State
    C. With Kirshnerisms

XII. International Relations and American Foreign Policy
    A. U.S. impact on the World
    B. Worlds impact on the U.S.
    C. Third World Views
    D. Jihad vs. McWorld
    E. The Myth of Sisyphus
         1. The hope of idealism
         2. The hope of Realpolitik

XIII. The American Dream
    A. The Protestant Work Ethic
    B. Assimilation vs. Separatism
    C. The Future Ain't What It Used To Be!

FINAL EXAM: Click to see a sample final exam.

Questions, Comments, and/or Suggestions: AKirshner@ohlone.edu

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printable version of  this course information

* This page last updated 8/23/11 © Alan M. Kirshner.