This is a graduate course designed to introduce students to research and theoretical approaches to studying the U.S. Congress. We will examine different explanations for and models of the sources of institutions, discuss their internal organization and governance, and consider the effects of institutions on outcomes of interest. Each week we will tackle a classic question in the field by reading a formal model, a classic empirical piece, and a new approach piece. The goal is to think constructively and creatively about how to move this research agenda forward. Each week participants will write a “Next Step Memo” describing what you think the next steps in this research area should be. Use your creativity here. Think outside the box. Take risks. The idea is to start thinking constructively and creatively about research building toward your own full blown research proposal final project.