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HIS 249: American Constitution: 1954 - Present

Course Description

This course explores the American constitutional system – written and unwritten – from the school desegregation crisis of 1954 to the current day. Students will consider issues surrounding the evolution of constitutional and legal structures; civil rights and liberties; the justice system; the expansion of government and abuses of power; updating the Bill of Rights; the American political process; and a range of contemporary issues from the right to life and to death, to free speech, school prayer and personal privacy.

Prerequisites

  • ENG 101: English Composition 1

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the dynamics by which the American constitutional system functions in theory and in practice.
  2. Explain the relationships between the written Constitution and the unwritten practices and institutions which permit it to remain an effective instrument.
  3. Examine the impact of the constitutional system on the daily lives of individual Americans.
  4. Interpret consistently and systematically significant recent and continuing constitutional issues.
  5. Adopt positions on public issues in American constitutional history and support those positions with a combination of factual historical evidence and argumentation.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Assignments

Weight

Discussions (Weeks 1-8)

30%

Written Survey Assignments (Weeks 2, 4 & 6)

25%

Research Project (Week 7)

25%

Final Examination (Week 8)

20%

Total

100%

Required Text

  • There is no required common textbook for HIS 249. Each student will select two scholarly books from an area(s) of his or her particular interest. The definition of books may include articles from journals, blogs, materials from websites or other internet sources. However, each selection must be approved in advance by the instructor.

Please Note: For some topics and issues internet materials  may be appropriate. Many Internet sources are problematic, however, because (1) they are frequently factually inaccurate; (2) they reveal a bias, rather than an historical balance; (3) they raise the potential for plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional. Thus, except for such links as OYEZ, or identifiable newspaper sources, or addresses with .edu or .gov, internet sources are discouraged. Interlibrary loan is, however, encouraged. Any internet source must have prior approval of the instructor for HIS 249.

Course Schedule

Week

SLOs

Readings and Exercises

Assignments

1

1,2,3,5

Topics: The Constitutional System: Purposes, Functions & Issues

  • Readings:
    • Select two books of your own interest to read in HIS 249. Start the first book as approved.
  • Submit book selections for approval
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Complete Survey, "You and Your Neighbors"

2

1,2,3,4,5

Topic: The Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights

  • Readings:
    • Continue reading the first book as approved.
    • Supreme Court decision in Meredith vs. Jefferson County Board of Education
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Submit written analysis on "You and Your Neighbors"
  • Begin research on topic for Presidential Election of 2016 project

3

1,2,3,4,5

Topics: The Justice System and the Courts

  • Readings:
    • There is no assigned reading this week.
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Re-take Survey, "You and Your Neighbors"

4

1,2,3,4,5

Topic: The Powers of the President

  • Readings:
    • Start the second book as approved.
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Submit second analysis of "You and Your Neighbors"

5

1,2,3,4,5

Topics: The Powers of Congress & Contemporary Constitutional Issues and Indivdual Liberty Part 1

  • Readings:
    • Continue reading the second book as approved.
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Submit Election of 2016 Research Project Draft

6

1,2,3,4,5

Topics: Contemporary Constiutional Issues & Individual Liberty - Part 2

  • Readings:
    • There is no assigned reading this week.
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Re-take Survey, "You and Your Neighbors"
  • Submit Final Analysis of "You and Your Neighbors"

7

1,2,3,4,5

Topics: Constitutional Process and Politics - Part 1

  • Readings:
    • There is no assigned reading this week.
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Submit Election of 2016 Research Project - Final Draft

8

1,2,3,4,5

Topics: Constitutional Process and Politics - Part 2

  • Readings:
    • There is no assigned reading this week.
    • Review for Final Exam
  • Review the lecture material
  • Participate in the Discusssions
  • Complete Final Exam
  • Complete Course Evaluation

FINAL EXAMINATION DUE BY THE END OF WEEK 8

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies and the “Course Policies” link for specific policies related to this course. COSC Resources information regarding available COSC academic support services and resources.