GOVT1– Essentials of Government

Professor Witko – Fall 2003


Tahoe Hall 3115

Phone:  278-3572


Office Hours:  W:  11-1 p.m., TH: 10:30-12 p.m., and by appointment


Required Texts

Patterson, Thomas E.  We the People.  5th ed.  (McGraw Hill 2002)


Miroff, Seidelman and Swanstrom.  Debating Democracy:  A Reader in American Politics, 4th ed. (Houghton Mifflin 2003).


Field, Mona and Charles P. Sohner.  California Government and Politics Today.

            9th ed.  (Longman 2002).


Course Objectives

The first main objective of this course is to introduce students to the basics of the U.S. and California political systems.  The second goal is to help students develop their skills of political analysis and argumentation, which are essential to citizens of a democracy.  Finally, the course will serve as a basic introduction to the more advanced study of politics for students that may want to pursue this topic further. 


Methods of Evaluation

Exams – There will be a midterm (10/28) and a cumulative final exam (TBA). 


Reaction Papers – Each student is responsible for handing in 5, 1 page single-spaced, reaction papers during the course of the semester.  You may write and turn in these papers in any five weeks that you wish but you may not hand in more than one paper per week.  In these papers you will respond to the debates regarding current political controversies presented in Debating Democracy.  A hand out with expectations and grading criteria for this assignment will be distributed in class and probably also made available on my web page.  Papers on a given topic are due the Thursday of the week that we cover that topic.  In addition to seeing me during office hours, if you need help with these assignments you may wish to contact the campus Writing Center ( 


Class Participation and Attendance- Much of the time spent in class will be lecture on the day’s topic, but I encourage students to ask questions and offer comments in class.  Some days, the class will be geared more toward an interactive discussion than a lecture format.  Therefore it is important to read and come prepared to discuss the material.  Each recorded absence will reduce your participation and attendance grade by 5 points (starting at 100).


Extra Credit- An extra credit, short paper assignment will be offered in the second half of the semester.


Midterm Exam (30%)

Final Exam (30%)

Reaction Papers (30%)

Participation and Attendance (10%)


GOVT1 on the Web

From time to time I will make useful material available on, or through my web page. 


Course Schedule


PART 1. –Foundations


Week1             Introduction to the Study of Politics/Political Culture

(9/2-9/4)          Read:  WTP Chapter 1


Week2             American Political Theory and The Constitution

(9/9-9/11)        Read:  WTP Chapter 2, DD Chapter 1


Week 3            Federalism

(9/16-9/18)      Read:  WTP Chapter 3, DD Chapter 3


Week 4            Civil Liberties

(9/23-9/25)      Read:  WTP Chapters 4, DD Chapters 6


Week 5            Civil Rights

(9/30-10/2)      Read:  WTP Chapters 5, DD Chapters 7


Week6             Public Opinion and Political Socialization

(10/7-10/9)      Read:  WTP Chapter 6, DD Chapter 8


Week 7            Voting and Participation

(10/14-10/16)  Read:  WTP Chapter 7, DD Chapters 2 and 4


Week 8            Political Parties, Candidates and Campaigns

(10/21-10/23)  Read:  WTP Chapter 8, DD Chapter 10

Midterm Exam:  10/28


Part II.  Institutions


Week 9            Interest Groups

(10/28-10/30)  Read: WTP Chapter 9, DD Chapter 11


Week 10          The Media

(11/4-11/6)      Read:  WTP Chapter 10, DD Chapter 9


Week 11          Congress

(11/11-11/13) Read:  WTP Chapter 11, DD Chapter 13


Week 12          The Presidency

(11/18-11/20)  Read:  WTP Chapter 12, DD Chapter 14


Week 13          The Bureaucracy and the Judiciary

(11/25-11/27)  Read:  WTP Chapter 13 and 14, DD Chapter 15


Week 14          People and Politics of California

(12/2-12/4)      Read:  Field and Sohner Chapters 1-7


Week 15          California’s State and Local Political Institutions

(12/9-12/11)    Read:  Field and Sohner Chapters 8-15


Final Exam:  Schedule is available at:


Plagiarism is the use of distinctive ideas or works belonging to another person without providing adequate acknowledgement of that person's contribution. Regardless of the means of appropriation, incorporating another's work into one's own requires adequate identification and acknowledgement. Plagiarism is doubly unethical because it deprives the author of rightful credit and gives credit to someone who has not earned it. Acknowledgement is not necessary when the material used is common knowledge. When the course is not noted, the following would constitute plagiarism:
1. Word-for-word copying.
2. The mosaic (to intersperse a few words of one's own here and there while, in essence, copying another's work).
3. The paraphrase (the rewriting of another's work, yet still using the fundamental idea or theory).
4. Fabrication (inventing or counterfeiting sources).
5. Ghost-written material (submitting another's effort as one's own).
It is also plagiarism to neglect quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged. Plagiarism and acts associated with it are cause for disciplinary and/or legal action.
California Code of Regulations, Sections 41301 through 41304 of Title 5, Article 1.1 states, "Following procedures consonant with due process established pursuant to Section 41304, any student of a campus may be expelled, suspended, placed on probation or given a lesser sanction for one or more of the following causes which must be campus related:
(a) Cheating or plagiarism in connection with an academic program at a campus."


Students with Disabilities


If you have a disability and require accommodations, you need to provide disability documentation to SSWD, Lassen Hall 1008, (916) 278-6955.  Please discuss your accommodation needs with me after class or during my office hours early in the semester.