This course will focus on 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 including the right to life and to death, free speech, school prayer, and personal privacy.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Analyze the dynamics by which the American constitutional system functions in theory and in practice.
- Explain the relationships between the written Constitution and the unwritten practices and institutions which permit it to remain an effective instrument.
- Examine the impact of the constitutional system on the daily lives of individual Americans.
- Interpret consistently and systematically significant recent and continuing constitutional issues.
- Adopt positions on public issues in American constitutional history and support those positions with a combination of factual historical evidence and argumentation.
Course Activities and Grading
Discussions (Weeks 1-8)
Written Survey Assignments (Weeks 2, 4 & 6)
Research Project (Week 7)
Final Examination (Week 8)
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.
Readings and Exercises
Topics: The Constitutional System: Purposes, Functions & Issues
Topic: The Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights
Topics: The Justice System and the Courts
Topic: The Powers of the President
Topics: The Powers of Congress & Contemporary Constitutional Issues and Indivdual Liberty Part 1
Topics: Contemporary Constiutional Issues & Individual Liberty - Part 2
Topics: Constitutional Process and Politics - Part 1
Topics: Constitutional Process and Politics - Part 2
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 see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.