State and local governments greatly influence the daily lives of citizens, and the economic and political structures in which they operate. However, most Americans tend to focus their attention on the national (=federal) government, all but ignoring the lower, seemingly less important levels of government. In this course, we will explore the role of state (and, to a lesser extent, local) governments in the American context. We will make comparisons – across states and across time – to highlight different approaches to different challenges, and we will investigate the reasons for these differences. We will examine the interaction between state, local and national governmental structures and institutions for a better, in-depth understanding of how the American political system functions, and how it influences the day-to-day lives of its citizens.