Course Description: See a sample syllabus
This course will explore the study of the development, structure, powers, processes, problems, and personnel of major legislative bodies with emphasis on the U.S. Congress. The course is designed to increase students understanding of legislative bodies as both deliberative assemblies and bodies of representatives. This class will allow students to explore and analyze such questions as: How and why is Congress organized the way it is, and how do the rules of the game influence the legislative process? How does competition and polarization affect representation, and vice versa? What motivates members of various legislative bodies? In which ways do, or can, members of Congress represent us? How do institutions and electoral rules affect who is elected and how we are represented? To provide students a broad overview of the study of the Legislative Process, the course is divided into several units: Foundations of the Legislative Process, The Deliberative Assembly, The Electoral Connection and Representation, and Policy Making. The course focuses on Congress for two reasons, first because it is the most prominent legislative body in the United States, but secondly (and relatedly), it has produced one of the largest bodies of research within the American Politics discipline. That said, we will also examine and analyze how theories based on Congress apply in other legislative bodies, such as U.S. state legislatures or even legislative bodies in other countries.