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The American Presidency


Syllabus: Fall 2020

Course Description

This course examines the American presidency as a political institution. We will engage with current political science research to understand the presidential election process, the evolution of presidential powers, and the institutional and political constraints placed on U.S. presidents. Our goal is to move beyond personal critiques of individual presidents and toward more nuanced analyses of the presidency as an institution. What can presidential actions, leadership styles, and pathways to power tell us about the broader American political system? What is the president’s role in American democracy – and what is the public’s role in holding the president accountable?


Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the presidential nomination and election processes;

  • Understand and evaluate the institutional and political constraints placed on the presidency;

  • Analyze the evolution of presidential powers and policymaking;

  • Evaluate the causes and consequences of institutional changes over time;

  • Analyze current events related to the American presidency.

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