The substance of this course consists of information from several sources. The required textbooks are as follows:
In addition to these core textbooks, there are assigned readings available at the links on the schedule page.
In class, we will engage in as much discussion as possible. To that end, you need to read assignments before their due date. Be able to discuss and answer questions about them.
We will also follow current events surrounding the presidency to get a "real time" view. Therefore, you must also stay informed of these events. For other mutual sources of information, I suggest reading the National Journal or The Hill; listening to Morning Edition (5-9am) or All Things Considered (4-6:30pm) on National Public Radio; or watching the PBS News Hour (6-7pm) on PBS television. Online, you may also check the White House web page or the Presidents and Executive Politics section of the APSA.
You will help to shape the content of the course through participation in oral debates about the presidency with topics drawn from the Ellis and Nelson reader. Of course, you all will be responsible for all assigned readings. Find out the date and topic for your debate presentation by clicking here. Debate presentations are expected to highlight the materials in the Ellis and Nelson reader. They will be graded on the basis of how well they do that, bringing class members into subsequent discussions, demonstrated relevance of discussions to the course materials, clarity, and evidence of good preparation. DO NOT READ YOUR PRESENTATION! Reading it will automatically result in the lowest possible grade on this project. A one point bonus will be added to the final grade for the best debate presentation prior to and after the week following the midsemester exam. A two point bonus will be added to the final grade for the best debate presentation for the entire course. Class members will vote on the recipients of these awards. However, I will ultimately decide on award recipients by weighing the class vote and using my own objective judgment.
Tuesdays will generally focus on that week's assigned readings. Thursdays will also focus on assigned readings, but will also include your debate presentations and discussions. The focus of the later activity should be towards integrating the debates into the overall topics at hand.
There are two examinations, a mid-term and a final. The first exam will occur in class on October 9 . The second will occur between 1:00 and 3:00 pm on December 12. Each examination is worth 30% of your grade for a total of 60% from exams. Exams will be objective, consisting of roughly 50 short answer questions drawn from lecture, enrichment, and reading materials. I will post potential questions for the exam online roughly one week in advance so that you will have an opportunity to consider the materials. Do not miss the exams (you know our schedule now and so can plan your schedule well ahead). I will not give makeups unless you 1) notify me or the department in advance (no exceptions); and 2) verify extreme circumstances in writing. An annotated bibliography comprises another 30% of your grade. The exact format and topics will be discussed in class, and is also described in detail at the link entitled Paper Assignment. The annotated bibliography will be graded in stages, with the first revision (worth 10%) due electronically before class on Tuesday, November 6. This first revision will be returned electronically with comments. You will then have an opportunity to revise your work. The final revision (worth 20%) is due electronically no later than 6 p.m. on December 4. You may, of course, turn in your written assignments at any time before their due date. Do not turn in late work! You will lose 10 points for turning in late work, with another ten points deducted for each day thereafter. Note: The initial draft is mandatory. Not turning in an initial draft will automatically result in a zero on the entire project. If you are satisfied with your initial grade on the annotated bibliography, then you do not need to turn in a revision. Another 10% of your grade consists of your performance on the debate presentations.
Your grade also depends on your participation in and attendance of class. The TAMU attendance policy applies to this course, and I will take daily attendance through a sign-in sheet. It is the student's responsibility to sign in for all days present. Failure to sign-in must be reported within one week in order to receive attendance credit for that day, and appropriate evidence of attendance must be provided. For any absence to be excused, you will need to provide acceptable documentation as to the reason for the absence, and its rationale must be consistent with the student rules at the preceding link. NOTE: A visit to Beutal does NOT fully document an excused absence. For any absence of three days or less you will need to fill out the Explanatory Statement for Absence from Class form. Documentation of excused absences must occur within one week of the absence. Attendance and absence reporting requires honesty and is subject to the Aggie Honor Code as implemented by the Aggie Honor System Office. If you have perfect attendance (no unexcused absences), I will add three bonus points to your final grade. If you miss once or more, but fewer than three unexcused absences I will add one bonus point to your final grade. This could help if you are borderline between letter grades. On the other end, excessive absences are an indication that you are not participating in the class. As in private sector employment, excessive absences generally result in termination. Therefore, if you miss more than six unexcused absences, the grade will automatically revert to an F.
Grades are calculated in the usual manner, with 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, and <60=F. While I do not grade on a curve (You earn what you earn, and I hope you all earn "A"s!), the typical class average is around a middle or upper "C". Simply completing the course requirements will most likely earn a "C". A "B" requires some demonstration of effort beyond just the requirements. An "A" requires extraordinary performance.
Let me also mention academic integrity. All students are expected to abide by the University policy on exams and written work. In this regard you should not acquire answers for examinations from unauthorized sources, provide answers to others, or engage in plagiarism. As commonly defined, plagiarism consists of passing off as one's own the ideas, words, writings, etc., which belong to another. In accordance with the definition, you are committing plagiarism if you copy the work of another person and turn it in as your own, even if you should have the permission of the person. Plagiarism is one of the worst academic sins, for the plagiarist destroys the trust among colleagues without which research cannot be safely communicated. If you have questions regarding the University's policy on scholastic dishonesty you may consult the following links on scholastic dishonesty.
The handouts used in this course are copyrighted. By "handouts" I mean all materials generated for this class, which include but are not limited to syllabi, quizzes, exams, lab problems, in-class materials review sheets, and additional problem sets. Because these are copyrighted, you do not have the right to copy the handouts, unless I expressly grant permission.
Students with Disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protections for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room 126 of the Koldus Building, or call 845-1637. On the web, see http://disability.tamu.edu. NOTE: To receive an accommodation for a disability, students must obtain such accommodation through the Disability Services Office at Texas A&M. Also, the student must inform me of such accommodations well in advance of exams.
Respect for Diversity: The Department of Political Science supports the Texas A&M University commitment to diversity, and welcomes individuals from any racial, ethnic, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and nationality. (See http://diversity.tamu.edu/). In the spirit of this vital commitment, in this course each voice in the classroom has something of value to contribute to all discussions. Everyone is expected to respect the different experiences, beliefs and values expressed by fellow students and the instructor, and will engage in reasoned discussion that refrains from derogatory comments about other people, cultures, groups, or viewpoints.