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POLISC-150 - Introduction to American Government and Politics - Dr. Deems D. Morrione

Course:Introduction to American Government and Politics
Professor:Dr. Deems D. Morrione
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


I am Dr. Deems D. Morrione, the instructor for this course. I am pleased to have all of you in this class. To get started, read this orientation letter. Once you have done that, it will be easier for you to decide if this is the right course for you.

When the syllabus is posted, make sure to read it carefully.

This class is 100% Online. There are no face-to-face class meetings. In order to participate in this class, students must have regular access to computers with Internet capability. Also, each student must obtain a COC e-mail address. To set- up a COC account, follow this link:

In order to determine if this class is the right learning environment for you, consider the following:

  •  You need to be self-motivated and disciplined
  • You must have good time management skills
  • You need regular internet access
  • You must be comfortable communicating in writing

Course Description

Official Course Description:

Examines the institutions, activities, and issues of American and California Governments while presenting an overview of the major ideas and forces that shape the use of public power in American society. The Constitution, the three branches of government, political parties, interest groups, and the media are among the major topics covered. Satisfies the Title V U.S. Constitution requirement and the California State and Local Government requirement.

My Take:

My teaching philosophy is focused on helping you sharpen your skills for political analysis. You will be presented with the basics of American government and politics through a combination of lecture, notes, and readings, and will be tested on how well you analyze political phenomena. The emphasis here is not on "a bunch of dates and dead people," as the historians sometimes say, but on the contemporary lived experiences of American politics. You should think of the lectures, notes, and reading materials as a way to help you understand the political world you inhabit.

This course explores the institutional structures, decision-making processes, and foundational components of American government. We will examine a wide array of issues and political arrangements during the semester, among them being: the role of the citizen in a democracy; the importance of constitutionality in a republic; the functions of elections and political parties; explorations of the three branches of government; various non-electoral influences on American politics; and many of the important issues associated with contemporary democratic government (such as civil liberties, equality, and processes of making changes to the status quo). This class also studies California state government and its political relationship to the federal government.

What to Expect in this Course

In each week's Module, there will be Pages which provide lecture material for the week--there will also be videos to add some nuance and context to the notes.  I will sometimes offer concepts to broaden your context of the week's work and I will ask questions for you to keep in mind while you are reading (no, you do not have to answer them).  Also, each week's Module will contain Discussion Groups.  The Discussion Groups are there so that you may ask me questions about the readings and talk among yourselves about what you have read.  This is not graded work; it is a way for us to communicate as a class.  Modules will also contain Assignment tabs for Critical News Analyses.  Once we get closer to the first Exam (there will be two, a midterm and a final), I will explain how that will work.

To sum up:  Your work will be completed in weekly Modules and are labeled accordingly ("Week 1," "Week 2," etc.).  Each Module contains Pages (as explained above), each with its own cluster of readings and videos.  The readings are listed in the Modules as they appear on the syllabus.  Discussion Groups have been created for you to ask me questions about the readings or to speak to each other about them.  Assignment tabs exist in each Module, and they are for Critical News Analyses.  When it is time for Exams, they will be housed in Quiz tabs.  Additionally, make sure to check the Announcements section regularly--I will give course updates and instructions in that area.

Types of Assessments


You will take two exams in this course.  Each exam is worth a maximum of one hundred (100) points toward the final grade.  EXAMS WILL BE TAKEN IN THE WEEKLY MODULES TABS IN THE CANVAS SHELL FOR THIS COURSE.  You will have approximately twenty-four hours to take them.  Each exam is timed:  you will have one hour and twenty minutes to complete each one.  Each exam will include a set of Identifications, Short Answer Questions, and an Essay.  Exams in this class are open-note, but not open-book.  Also, I do not provide study materials for students--your class notes should be considered your study guide.  The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the format of the exam.

Critical News Analyses:

Over the course of the semester, students will complete 4 short reading assignments where they do the following:

*Select an issue from the readings that you can connect to a contemporary issue/controversy in American politics (this issue should be no more than six months old).  Information concerning contemporary political issues/controversies must be presented with reference to one of the following sources:  The New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal.

*Next, find the Assignment tab labeled Critical News Analysis in the weekly Modules.   Write one to two (1-2) paragraphs (approximately 250-300 words), in which you connect course readings to the larger world of American politics. In your paragraphs, you should be trying to show me that you are connecting what you read in class materials to the larger world of American politics.  For example, you can explain how reading about this issue/controversy changed your opinion on something, gave you information you hadn't encountered before reading it, showed you a side of a debate you hadn't considered, raised an issue that made you consider it in a new way, etc.  The point is that you are communicating how you are internalizing political information.  Do not forget to cite the news article you used for this assignment.

Textbook Information

*Benjamin Ginsberg, et al., We the People: An Introduction to American Politics (13th Ed.)

*J. Theodore Anagnoson, et al., Governing California in the Twenty-First Century (8th Ed.)

*Reading materials housed in Canvas


Other Relevant Course Information

For those of you who are new to online-learning, it is important for you to understand that this is not a “learn at your own pace” course. All students will be expected to log into Canvas to retrieve and submit assignments and participate in discussions.

I want you to be successful in pursuing your online educational goals. Please feel free to email me with your questions about the course, but remember that syllabus-specific inquiries may not be answerable at the time you ask them. My email is:

Please remember also that my expertise is in my discipline, not in technical support for Canvas. If you have questions about how to use Canvas or how it applies to the devices you have, contact the very helpful people in technical support at the phone numbers listed below.

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 Accommodation 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

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 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.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 06/07/2021 Sub#: 227