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Political Science 150 - Introduction to American Government and Politics - Dr. Richard Dyke

Course:Introduction to American Government and Politics
Professor:Dr. Richard Dyke
  • OnlineLive
Course Length:16 week
Textbook Title:College of the Canyons Custom Edition, Political Science 150, Introduction to American Government and Politics, 2019 (ISBN 978-0-393-43204-6), available through the Cougar Bookstore, or available as two separate books: Ginsberg, Benjamin; Lowi, Theodore J.; Weir, Margaret; Tolbert, Caroline J.; and Campbell, Andrea L., We the People: An Introduction to American Politics, Twelfth Edition; New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019 (ISBN: 978-0-393-64432-6). - AND - Anagnoson, J. Theodore; Bonetto, Gerald; Buck, J. Vincent; Emrey, Jolly; Kelleher, James J.; Koch, Nadine; and Michelson, Melissa, Governing California in the Twenty-First Century: The Political Dynamics of the Golden State, Seventh Edition; New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019 (ISBN: 978-0-393-66488-1, paperback).
Types of Assessments:There will be five tests, taken on Canvas, that will cover your readings, the lectures, discussions, and video materials. Four of the tests will be multiple choice questions based mainly on a list of study questions provided beforehand. One test will be a long essay. your will be provided that question beforehand as well. Your grade will be based on the five tests.


Welcome to Political Science 150, Introduction to American Government and Politics!  I hope you will join us as we explore the many facets of American government and politics described in the Course Description below.  It should be an eye-opener on the systems and complexities in our government.  We will have opportunities for reading, lectures, discussions, and videos about how politics works, why money matters so much, why politics is noisy and controversial and confrontational, and how issues change over time.  Hopefully you will come away from this class as a more knowledgeable and politically engaged citizen.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to American government and politics.  As such, it provides an overview of the major terms, concepts, ideologies, institutions, and structures of the United States federal system, which includes both the federal government in Washington, D. C. and the individual governments of the 50 states.  The course will concentrate on the U.S. Constitution and our state constitution of California, including both similarities and differences between these two governing documents and the political systems that each represents.  The Anagnoson book is about California government and politics, while the Ginsberg text describes our national government and political system. We will consider both in detail, but with much attention being given to our overall U.S. Constitution and the enormous and powerful government it has created. Major topics will include the unique rights and privileges that Americans enjoy, particularly our civil liberties  and civil rights; and our federal institutions, including Congress, the President, the federal court system, and the huge bureaucracy (and taxes) necessary to carry out all of the government's functions.  But we will also analyze all aspects of politics, including political parties, voter participation, public opinion, the role of the media and interest groups, campaign funding and elections, and U.S. domestic and foreign policies.

What to Expect in this Course

Get ready to expect a lot of knowledge about our state and federal political systems and how you as a potential voter can participate, at a level you are comfortable with, in the issues and policies of the California and federal governments.  An educated citizen is an engaged citizen.  Knowledge brings power but also realization of how tough the fight can get and will be as Americans attempt to adjust their governments and society in meaningful ways to make a more tolerant and inevitably diversified community.  Expect some of your values and beliefs to be challenged.  Politics can be both fun and rewarding.

Additional Textbook Information / Link to OER Textbook

Our Custom Text includes both the Ginsberg, et. al. text, We the People, minus Chapter 17, and the Anagnoson book on California government and politics, minus Chapter 3.  These chapters are covered elsewhere in the two books and allowed the Political Science Department to offer students a less expensive text.  You can buy the two books separately at higher cost, but should buy the TWELFTH Edition of Ginsberg and the SEVENTH Edition of Anagnoson.  Caution:  Don't buy earlier editions, because the content may have changed as much as 30% or 40%, and you may not be able to find all of the Study Questions for the tests.

Other Relevant Course Information

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accomodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

College of the Canyons cares about your emotional and physical health. Learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including free counseling and mental health services available during this time by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center website or by calling them at: 661-362-3259.

The National Suicide Lifeline number is 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK). Please call it if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress - it could save someone's life.

You can also use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. It's free, available 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.

Last updated: 12/16/2020 Sub # Orig: 2647