Government in an Evolving Democracy

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Summer 2017 (Full Session)
Credits per quarter

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The defining question for this class is: What good is government?

Why do we pay for “government” and what does it give us?  Why does Washington State have the most regressive tax structure in the United States? Why do western states, including ours, have a citizen initiative process? How do United States Supreme Court rulings affect ideas, policies and laws about gender, marriage, gun control, education and media?  What is the role of both state and federal government in:  Food production?  Housing? Privacy?  Water?  Health?  Education? What is infrastructure, and how does state-level investment in construction differ from that invested in human-delivered social/educational services?  Why are roads, bridges and dams mentioned in the media only when they fail?  How do gun laws like “Stand Your Ground” relate to the criminal justice system? 

These questions and more will be addressed in a class that provides students with theoretical and pragmatic knowledge about how government and democratic systems function in the United States and in the State of Washington. Themes include, but are not limited to, federalism, states' rights, and citizens' participatory governance and individual rights.  Readings will include U. S. Supreme Court and Washington State court cases.  Students will write short papers, maintain a journal on the reading assignments, participate in class discussions, and work in groups to complete a final project.  The final project includes participatory research on a particular state official, which could include elected representatives and appointed state personnel, the development of structured interview questions for the research subject, a written report and an oral presentation of your research process and findings.   

The class will include field trips to the Temple of Justice (Washington State Supreme Court), the Washington State Archives, the Washington State Library, the Washington State Legislative building, as well as visits with state representatives, senators and local officials.

Credit may be awarded in civics, government and political science.  Parts of the curriculum may also contribute to coursework expectations for various teaching endorsements

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: public administration, teaching

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Up to $15 for bus transportation

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

Mon,Wed,Fri 10a-2p

SEM 2 E3105