This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others.
Join this timely and dynamic upper-level civics course covering history, government, politics, law, economics, and more — for a broad yet compelling overview helping your student fully understand the US government and elections this year. This course meets many American Government course requirements.
This upper-level high school course is an introduction to all things “civics.” Immigrants to the United States need to pass a test to become citizens — and we tend to take our American civic knowledge for granted. Through this course, help your student “cover a little bit of everything” in what is needed for civics intelligence — including history, government, politics, law, and economics. (Check out the course outline below for detailed course topics covered!) Together, these topics give a frame of reference to understand this “experiment in ordered liberty” that we call America.
Class 1 – Introduction
Introduction to class and overview
INS Civics exam
Class 2 – Political theory/history
Define “law” – ask for their definitions, parse Aquinas’ definition
Review Aquinas’ 6 forms of government.
English Common Law
The concept of “rights” in society – the Western tradition vs. non-Western traditions
Magna Carta – http://www.constitution.org/eng/magnacar.htm
The Rule of Law
Class 3 – History
Declaration of Independence
The cost; What happened to the Signers? Sacrifice
Why write a declaration at all? Why not just revolt? Answer: Justification
Class 4 – History
Characteristics of the various state governments:
Popular sovereignty – the final political authority rests with the people/voters
Limited government – the Federal govt only had the power granted to it by the Constitution & the people
Separation of Power/checks and balances – 3 branches with different roles
Franchisement – broader than in any other country in the world at that time
The Articles of Confederation
Class 5 – History / Government
In-class discussion/debate on Bill of Rights (Alien exercise)
Federalist 1 and 51
Diffusion of Power:
Separation of powers; checks & balances. How practically does it work?
Federal vs. States’ rights
Class 6 – History/Government
The US Constitution:
Who refused to sign the final form of the Constitution and why?
Powers of Congress – express power & implied powers (Necessary & proper clause)
Class 7 – America Grows / Modern political scene
Major historical events in America’s development
Election – what is the electoral map looking like?
What are the projected battleground/swing states?
The 2-party system – good or bad?
Class 8 – America Grows (cont.)
Discuss: Federal Reserve; Electoral College; Confirmation Bias; Democratic Socialism
Class 9 – Election Post-mortem
Discuss the results of Tuesday’s Elections: national, state and local. What happened in your district? What are the likely implications?
Class 10 – Economics
Discuss “I, Pencil”
Free market capitalism
Class 11 – Economics
Discuss “The Unfreedom of the Free Market”
Does the State have a role to play in the economic welfare of its citizens? Is free-market capitalism really the moral thing to do?
Course Materials: All course materials are provided free by the instructor: “I Pencil” essay; INS exam; Federalist 1 and 52; Magna Carta: Declaration of Independence; U.S. Constitution, including the amendments; and other readings.
Homework: Expect to spend approximately one to two hours weekly current-events reports (most weeks) plus a five to six-page paper at the end of the course. Graded by the instructor.