Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2019/2020

POSC 215: State And Local Government

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  Course Description

To survey American governments on the sub-national level to increase awareness of the impact those governments have over citizens' lives.

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Dye, T. R.. (2015). Politics in States and Communities (15th ed). Pearson.  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

This course surveys American governments on the sub-national level and focuses on the impact those governments have over citizens’ lives.  We will study state, county, municipal and special local governments and their components.  Assignments include textbook and multimedia reading/viewing, discussions, papers and exams.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the various forms of government on the county and municipal level.
  2. Identify major features of state constitutions and explain the historical development of these documents
  3. Describe the organization structures of the executive, legislative and judicial branches on the state level
  4. Develop an understanding of the complex relationship between the state and national governments and the forces driving that relationship
  5. Identify the role played by political parties and interest groups on the sub-national level
  6. Identify American cultural patterns and explain how demographics, immigration and migration, and other factors have influenced these patterns


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 720-800 90-100%
B 640-719 80-89%
C 560-639 70-79%
D 480-559 60-69%
F 0-479 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussion (16) 160 20%
Essays (3) 240 30%
Midterm Exam (1) 200 25%
Final Exam (1) 200 25%
Total 800 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 10 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 2 10

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 10
Essay 1 80 Friday
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 10
Essay 2 80 Friday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10
Midterm Exam 200 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 10
Essay 3 80 Friday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 10

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 10

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 10
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points: 800

  Assignment Overview


All discussions must take place in the Discussions area, meaning that uploading an attachment as your post will not count.  Each week’s discussion will take place from Monday to Sunday, except for Week 8 which ends on Saturday. In Week 1, initial posts are due by 11:59 PM Central Time (CT) Thursday and three responses are due by 11:59 PM CT on Sunday. In subsequent weeks, your initial post is due by 11:59 PM Central Time (CT) on Wednesday and three responses to classmates due by 11:59 PM Sunday. During Week 8, the three responses are due by 11:59 PM CT on Saturday, the last day of the course. Discussions are each worth 10 points. A grading rubric will be available in the course. 

Each discussion is set so that you must post your original thoughts before reading the posts of your classmates. Your initial response to the discussion question should be a full paragraph of 5-8 sentences; all of the sentences should support your main claim.  The entire paragraph should be written in your own words, without quoting any other sources.  If you are writing about a reading from our text, be sure to include the author and title in the first sentence or two so others know what piece you are referencing.

Your responses to others’ posts should also be well developed, fully explaining your response to the classmates’ posts.  Make responses that add to the conversation and take it further; simply posting “I agree” or “good job” does not help develop ideas.  For maximum learning and point benefits, respond to at least three students’ posts.

 I will participate in the Discussion at any point for any of several reasons:

  • Seeking clarification
  • Asking a question (to which I expect a response)
  • Providing additional information
  • Making sure the Discussion stays on track, civil and respectful


You will write three essays in this course on assigned topics. Essays are worth 80 points each and are due by 11:59 PM Friday of the assigned week. All papers must be in a .doc, .pdf, or .rtf format. The expected length is 2-3 pages, not including the bibliography. Your work should be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1 inch margins all around.  When citing resources, you must adhere strictly to APA style (although you will not be required to provide an abstract for any writing assignment in this course). All assignments must be your own original work and you are not allowed to turn in papers for this course that you have used previously for another course (even if it is from taking this very course during a previous session).  You are expected to write professionally with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar, developing your topic and providing solid examples from our readings, your own research, or your own experiences to back up your statements.   


Midterm Exam

The exam covers material from weeks 1-4. It is proctored and will contain 50 M/C or T/F questions and 1 essay question. You will have 120 minutes to complete it and 1 attempt.

Final Exam

The exam covers material from weeks 5-8. It is proctored and will contain 50 M/C or T/F questions and 1 essay question. You will have 120 minutes to complete it and 1 attempt.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Text: Chapters 1-3

Lecture: Governments Close to You

Discussion 1

Introduce yourself to the class. Some of the items you may share are where you live, year is school, your major, occupation, hobbies etc..

Discussion 2

Read the Bill of Rights in your state’s constitution.  What are significant ways it differs from the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights?  Why do you think your state has its particular Bill of Rights?
You can locate your state’s Bill of Rights at The State Constitutions Project (link provided within course). 


Text: Chapters  4 & 5

Lecture: Parties, Campaigns and Elections Near You

Discussion 3

Would you consider running for local or state office?  If yes, which one and why?  If not, why not?

Discussion 4

Political parties are declining but partisanship is increasing. Why?   

Essay 1

States are making it increasingly easy for people to vote through vote-by-mail, absentee voting, early voting and online voting.  What are the benefits of these alternative voting methods?  What are the potential problems and risks?  You must use and cite at least three sources in addition to the text.  

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

Text: Chapter 6

Lecture: Representatives Near You and Their Work

Discussion 5

Does your state have term limits for state legislators? Do you support or oppose term limits? Why?

Discussion 6

Redistricting often increases partisan advantage and/or protects incumbents.  Some believe this is unhealthy for democracy.  What do you think?  Why? 

Essay 2
Compare and contrast the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and one other interest group of your choosing in terms of their impact on state government.  You must use and cite at least three sources other than ALEC, the interest group you have chosen, or the text. 

Text: Chapter 7

Lecture: Miniature Presidents?

Discussion 7

Does the governor of your state have a line-item veto?  You can locate this information in the Book of the States (link located within course). Whatever your answer is, do you believe governors should have this power?  Why or why not?  (FYI, the president of the United States does not have line item veto power.)

Discussion 8

The table on p. 207 in the text lists states according to how powerful the governor’s office is.  Where does your state rank?  Should governors be strong or weak?  Why?

Midterm Exam

The exam covers material from weeks 1-4. It is proctored and will contain 50 M/C or T/F questions and 1 essay question. You will have 120 minutes to complete it and 1 attempt.


Text: Chapter 9

Lecture:   Courts, Crime, Punishment, and Lawsuits Near You

Discussion 9

How does your state select judges?  What do you think of your system?  You can find information on this topic in the National Center for State Courts site (link provided within course).

Discussion 10

What are the two most critical issues facing state and local law enforcement?  Why?

Essay 3

What are the pros and cons of the death penalty? What is your view? You must use and cite at least three sources in addition to the text. 


Text: Chapters 10 & 11

Lecture: Governments Really Close to You

Discussion 11

Describe where you live (city, suburb, town, rural area).  Pick a unit of government there – municipality, county, school district, special district, etc.  Does it “work?”  Why or why not?  What is the biggest improvement that needs to be made?

Discussion 12

Identify an interest group that is especially influential in your community.  What impact does it have, and why?

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Text: Chapters 12 & 13

Lecture:  Metropolitics and Land Use

Discussion 13

Who “runs” your community?  What are the implications for the local economy and politics?  Is it a satisfactory situation, or does it need to be changed?  If the latter, how can the change occur?

Discussion 14

What is your opinion of eminent domain?  Is it a pure community good or is it subject to abuse? 


Text: Chapter 14

Lecture:   State and Local Finance: Taxing and Spending

Discussion 15

One of the stronger predictors of a state’s economic health is the size of its college-educated workforce.  What can states do to increase the number of students who begin and graduate from college?

Discussion 16

Look up Value Added Tax (VAT), which is used in many countries.  What are the main principles?  Is it a solution to government revenue problems?  Feel free to include the federal government.  How politically feasible is VAT?

Final Exam

The exam covers material in weeks 5-8. It is proctored and will contain 50 M/C or T/F questions and 1 essay question. You will have 120 minutes to complete it and 1 attempt.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. However, partial credit may be given to late initial posts provided they are submitted before the response post deadline each week.

Late essays are not accepted.

No late exams are accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.