Introduction to American Government: Course Welcome

Hi I’m Louis DeSipio. I’ll be teaching Political Science 21,
Introduction to American Government this summer in summer session I. I wanted to take the opportunity to
introduce myself, introduce the course, and then give you a
sense of what you’ll be doing over the five and a half weeks that
we’re meeting. Summer session courses go very quickly so everything I say today should be
understood as something that you have to make a real priority in your lives. I
realize that summers are busy times for you but five-and-a-half
weeks isn’t too long so please think about how you can
accomplish what I’m gonna talk about today in a relatively
short time. As I mentioned my name’s Louis DeSipio. I’m a professor in the departments of Political Science and Chicano/Latino
Studies at UCI. I’ve been teaching here for about 12
years now and overall teaching for almost 25 years. My interests are in race and ethnic
politics. I study how minority communities organize to make demands on political institutions and how political institutions respond
to that demand-making. Increasingly I’m looking at
immigration policy, with an eye to how immigrants can make the transition to
not just to US citizens but also to fully participating US citizens. I think these interests will inform the
course but I think what you’re gonna be exposed to over the five and half weeks of the
course is a pretty traditional American government class. The first
third will look at the design of the American political system, the Constitution, the
amendments to the Constitution, the rules of the game if you will. The second third of the course looks
at how people influence that game: how they vote,
how they organize in their communities, how they use the media to shape political outcomes. And then the final
third of the class looks at political institutions, looks at Congress, looks at
the president, looks at the Supreme Court to determine how public policy is made and
we’ll look at a couple specific policy issues in the final week of the class. As I say this is a pretty
traditional American government class if you took it on ground pretty much anywhere in the country
you get the same set of options. I think what makes this course unique
though of course is the online delivery. You’ll have the opportunity to hear
from me several times each week in in some
lectures you’ll have the opportunity to look at a text book other will cover some basics American
government and you have the opportunity to look at some videos that address
specific topics. Let me talk a little bit about the
structure of the class. You’ll have three ways in which I will evaluate your performance. The most substantive of these are three analytical essays. By an
analytical essay I mean something that you can write based on the readings in
the course, my lectures, and the videos in the course. You don’t
have to do any sort of outside research And these three analytical essays
will cover those three parts of the course — the design of the American system, mass participation in American politics,
and political institutions. Each of those analytical essays which
are spaced pretty evenly across the course are worth twenty five percent of your
final grade. I hope that you put a lot of effort into those. We take them very seriously. They’ll be 4 to 6 pages each and you’ll summit these online. The
second way in which I’ll evaluate your performance is weekly forums. These will respond to
questions that I’ve raised. You can look at these questions online and you’ll be able to answer them
again based on the readings and my lectures. I’ll want you to make at least three
posts to the weekly forums. The first of these is your answer to the question and then the second to our responses
either to your fellow students or to comments that i’ve made or the
teaching assistants made. The forums are worth fifteen percent of your final grade. The final way in which I’ll evaluate your performance are
weekly quizzes. These quizzes are specifically on the textbook. They are diagnostic in the sense that
they’ll tell you if you’re reading at the appropriate
level and they are also a way to reward the
students that are taking the reading a little bit more seriously. The quizzes are worth 0 percent your
final grade. There’s also a small opportunity for extra credit for about
three points of extra credit. Three points may not sound like not too
much but it usually gets you up to the next grade level, so from a B to a B+ or B+ to an A-. As I say summer courses move very
very quickly so it’s really important that you hit the ground running, that you have the textbook in hand before
the course starts and that you begin to work on the
Monday that the course begins. Each week I would suggest that you
follow pretty much this calendar. That is that on Monday, Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday morning you do your
reading. You should take some notes on the readings. You watch the videos that
supplement the lectures and you watch the lectures,
again taking some notes. On Wednesday of each week you take your quiz for the class. You can do this anytime during the
day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. You have to allow half an hour for the quiz. And you make your first post to the forum. Then on Thursday and Friday you go back and you read your fellow
students’ posts to the forums and you supplement those posts with your own observations
about what your fellow students or what I have to say, what the teaching assistants have to say.
On top of this sort of standard weekly schedule — reading early in the week, quiz in the
middle of the week, forums late in the week, you’ll need to be making time to work
on your analytical essays, which are due in the
second, fourth, and final week of the class. Overall I’ve taught this course now three
times in the summer and I’m very happy with the way it works. I think students have
been happy with the outcomes, but what really
makes the difference is the energy that you put into it. I’ll put all of my energy into it and I
expect the same of you. I look forward to meeting you over the
next few weeks. If you have any questions I’m available here on the UCI campus. You can reach
me by email [email protected] and I look forward to meeting you, at
least meeting you electronically. Bye bye.

Maurice Vega

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