Political Science 350
Fall, 2008

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Instructor:  Dr. William Harbour                                                                         Office Phone: 395-2219
Office: East Ruffner 228                                                                                      Home Phone: 315-0352
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-12:00                                                       E-Mail: 
                        TR 9:30-10:30

Table of Contents
COURSE DESCRIPTION                                                                                    COURSE OBJECTIVES
EVALUATION METHOD                                                                                REQUIRED READINGS
GRADES                                                                                                                   CLASS DISCUSSION

HONOR CODE                                                                                                             TAKING EXAMS
ATTENDANCE POLICY                                                                                          COURSE OUTLINE

The modern presidency and its role in contemporary politics, emphasizing the constitutional background of the office, the evolution of presidential powers, relationships between the presidency and Congress and the bureaucracy, the presidential election process, and the role of the presidency in policy making.
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 Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a capacity for critical and analytical thought about the Presidency.

2. Demonstrate an ability to communicate their knowledge and beliefs about the Presidency both orally and in writing.

3. Describe the essential features of the American Presidency.

4. Discuss the roles played by the Presidency in the American political system.

5. Identify information regarding the Presidency that is necessary for useful and responsible citizenship.

6. Discuss important philosophical and ethical issues associated with the exercise of Presidential power and leadership.

7. Describe the major ways in which political scientists have tried to understand the Presidency.

8. Discuss how the presidency has shaped and been shaped by dynamic social forces in the 20th and 21st century.

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The attainment of the course objectives by the students will be evaluated by examining student performance in class discussion and on the essay exams and critical thinking writing exercises required for the course.

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George C. Edwards III.  Readings in Presidential Politics. Belmont, CA.: Thompson Wadsworth, 2006.  ISBN 0-495-00670-X


Joseph A. Pikha & John Anthony Maltese.  The Politics of the Presidency.  Seventh Edition.  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0-87289-468-6.


James C. Pffifner and Roger H. Davidson.  Understanding the Presidency.  Fifth Edition.  New York: Longman, 2009.  ISBN 10-0205649874  Out in July, 2008.


Sidney M. Milkis and Michael Nelson.  The American Presidency.  Fifth Edition.  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0-87289-336-8.


Students will also be required to purchase a discounted subscription to the New York Times from the Bookstore.  Being aware of current political developments is important to good citizenship.  Each exam will have at least one essay question requiring students to reflect on current political news regarding the presidency.

Students should watch the American Experience programs on Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush go to:
At the programs websites they can also access background materials on each of those presidents.


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Your grade will be based upon three tests given during the course of the semester, the combined score on ten critical thinking writing exercises, your contribution to class discussion, and a final examination. Each of these will count for 1/6 of your semester grade. All of the tests and the final examination will involve an essay format.

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Students are expected to make contributions to class discussion. Your grade in this regard will be based upon daily participation during the semester.  Students should be prepared to relate the material being studied to current political developments.

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There will be 10 critical thinking writing exercises. These assignments will be three pages in length. They will be done in Microsoft Word with a Font size 12 and double spaced. Any documentation for these exercises will be done according to the Turabian format for a research paper. A shorter version of that style manual can be found on the History style manual at the following web address: <>
The essays must demonstrate reading beyond the class assignments and reflect knowledge of current political events. 

These assignments are found in the course outline and are due by 4:00 each Friday of the week assigned.  Later papers will lose points.

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Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged.  Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating.

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All tests and exams must be taken on time.
You are expected to provide proof for any legitimate reason (illness, participation in a University-sponsored activity, or recognizable emergency) you may have for missing a test or exam. Work not handed in on time will lose points.  Each exam will also have at least one question dealing with current political developments regarding the presidency.

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The attendance policy for the course is the same as the University policy found in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.

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Week 1 Introduction to the study of the Presidency
Aug. 25-29   The Constitution and the Presidency
Read:  Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 1, Readings 1-5
           Milkis & Nelson, Preface, Chpts. 1, 2, 3
The Constitution
Special Topics:
M: Introduction to the study of the Presidency
W: Creating the Presidency
     What are the principal approaches to studying the Presidency?
F:  What does the Constitution have to say about the Presidency?

Critical Thinking Writing Exercise #1 Identify the most important debates that surrounded the creation of the Presidency.  Explain how some of today’s controversies surrounding the office reflect the concerns raised in those original debates. 

Week 2     Perspectives on Presidential Power and Leadership
Sept. 1-5   Presidential Leadership Roles
 Read:  Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 2, Readings 6-11; Section 7, Readings 33
            Edwards, Chpts. 1, 4, 6
            Pika & Maltese, Chpt. 1
Special Topics:
M: No classes on Labor Day
W: How have Presidential powers evolved? What have been some of the principal positions regarding the valid scope of Presidential powers? What dynamic social, economic, political and military forces have shaped the emergence of the modern presidency?
F:  What are the major leadership roles (or jobs) belonging to the modern Presidency?
     What are the most important characteristics of Presidential leadership?

Critical Thinking Writing Exercise #2 Are presidents ever justified in lying, breaking promises, or practicing deception?  If not, then explain why not.  If they are, then explain what criteria should be used in to distinguish between justifiable and non justifiable lying, promise breaking, and deception.

Week 3     The Selection Process and Political Parties
Sept. 8-12     Read:   Pika & Maltese, Chpt. 2
                                  Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 3, Readings 12-18
                                  Edwards, Chpt. 2
Special Topics
M:  How does one go about becoming President?  How do Presidential candidates get nominated?
       What factors shape the conduct and results of Presidential elections?
W:  Case Study: What can be learned from Election 2004?
F:    Is this nation served well by the manner in which it selects Presidents? Should the process be changed?

Critical Thinking Writing Exercise #3 Explain and evaluate what you regard as the five most important criticisms of the current presidential selection process. 

Week 4        Evaluating Presidential Performance
Sept. 15-19  Presidential Greatness
Read: Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 9, Readings 42-46; Section 7, Reading 32
          Milkis & Nelson, Chpts. 4, 5, 6, 11
          Pika & Maltese, Chpt. 4
Special Topics:
M: What makes for Presidential greatness? Case Studies:  Jefferson and Jackson
W:  Case Studies: Lincoln, FDR
F:   Note:  Your first test for the semester will be on Friday, Sept. 19 and will count for 1/6 of your semester grade.

Week 5   Cycles in the Struggle for Power between the President and Congress
Sept. 22-26

Read:  Pika & Maltese, Chpt. 5
           Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 6, Readings 28-30
           Milkis & Nelson, Chpts. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
           Edwards, Chpts. 3, 11
Special Topics:
M: The Era of Congressional Dominance
W:  The Progressives and the Presidency
F:  The Modern Presidency and FDR

Critical Thinking Writing Exercise #4  What forces contributed to the rise of the modern Presidency?  How do these forces continue to shape the presidency?

Week 6   The Presidency and Congress
Sept. 29 - 0ct. 3               

Read:  Pika & Maltese, Chpt. 5
           Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 6, Readings 28-30
Special Topics:
M: What does the President have going for him in dealing with the Congress?
      What resources are available to Congress in trying to resist presidents?
W:  Case Study: LBJ
F:   What forces limit Presidential influence with Congress?

Critical Thinking Writing Exercise #5 Why are some presidents more successful in getting their domestic agenda enacted by Congress than others? What makes for Presidential success in dealing with Congress?