PS 566 Contemporary American Political Thought

This course considers central themes and controversies in American political thinking during the 20th and early 21st centuries. Topics include the development of liberalism from the Progressive Era to the New Deal to the Great Society and beyond; the emergence of new strands of conservatism after World War II and the tensions between those strands; challenges by excluded and marginalized groups to the traditional social and political order; and the revival of concerns about “community” in America. As a topic of study, “American Political Thought” combines philosophy, political theory, history, and practical politics. We will thus read a wide variety of texts, ranging from philosophical treatises to newspaper articles, from presidential addresses to works of social science. Our ultimate goal is to become more knowledgeable and more critical students of the American political experience.
This term, PS 566 will be taught in a blended learning format. This means that part of the course will be face-to-face and part will be online. Each section of the course meets for one 75 minute class session per week. That class session will be devoted to active learning, including group work, class discussion, problem solving activities, simulations, etc–all designed to help deepen our consideration of our shared readings. The online component of the course will include a weekly podcast and an interactive critical reader activity, both designed to help you engage in a meaningful way with the assigned readings (all of which will be primary texts). Students will also participate in a structured online team discussion forum and work on team and individual projects.