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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: POSC 280
Course Title: *American Political and Social Thought
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: American political thought from the colonial period to the present using writings of notable political figures, scholars, and others. Cross-listed as AMST 280. Prerequisite: ENGL 112.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): ENGL 112.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered odd Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Instructors may use one of two approaches:

1. Require:
American Political Thought by Dolbeare, Kenneth M. (C.Q. Press) This is the most comprehensive anthology on this topic.

2. Assign 8 - 10 original texts such as:
The Federalists Papers
The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Dubois
What the Anti-Federalists Were For by Herbert Storing
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
The Public and Its Problems by John Dewey
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays by Henry David Thoreau
What Social Classes Owe Each Other by William Graham Sumner
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

American Political Thought
By Dolbeare, Kenneth M. (C.W. Press)
The Federalist Papers
By A. Hamilton, J. Madison, and J. Jay (Penguin Classics)
The Souls of Black Folks
By W.E.B. Dubois (Pocket)
What the Anti-Federalists Were For
By Herbert Storing (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Democracy in America
By Alexis de Tocqueville (Penguin Classics)
The Public and Its Problems
By John Dewey (Swallow Press)
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
By Henry David Thoreau (BN Publishing)
What Social Classes Owe Each Other
By William Graham Sumner (BiblioBazaar)
Capitalism and Freedom
By Milton Friedman (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Self Reliance
By Ralph Waldo Emerson (Dover Publications)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
By Benjamin Franklin (Dover Publications)
Course Objectives
  • To be familiar with major authors in American politcal thought.
  • To understand how ideas shaped American polical history.
  • To understand theoretical ideas important to America's development such as liberalism, republicanism, federalism, citizen rights and more.
  • To analyze critically the development of ideas such as federalism, individualism, capitalism, etc. in American political and social thought.
    Measurable Learning
  • Explain the significant contributions of specific authors and theorists to America's development.
  • Identify major trends in the development of American political thought.
  • Read and comprehend original sources relevant to American political thought.
  • Analyze critical issues relevant to American political and social thought.
    Topical Outline:
  • NOTE: A significant, intensive writing component is required for this course. This requirmeent may be satisfied by a single type-written paper of 10 - 12 pages in length (or longer), properly cited, or by mulitple paper assignments of equivalent length
  • Revolutionary political ideas
  • The development of "democracy" and the abolition of slavery
  • Growth of industrialization, populism, socialism, and other social movements
  • Laissez faire and its decline, progressivism
  • Post World War II liberalism, the move toward diversity, the focus on issue politics

    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 30

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: David Roebuck Date: August 5, 2014
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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