Political Science 1: TERM PAPER TOPICS AND INSTRUCTIONS:
1. HOW SEPARATED POWERS AFFECT POLICYMAKING
Select a public policy issue that interests you (some examples are listed below; general issues like "welfare policy, "education policy," or "health policy" will be too broad and unmanageable). Write your essay to explain how policymaking on that issue has been affected by separation of powers at the national level. Here's a sample outline: (1) Identify and explain the policy issue at hand. (2) How has the president (or a succession of presidents) dealt with the issue? (3) How has Congress dealt with the issue? (4) If relevant, how have the federal courts affected the issue? (5) How have the political parties and affected interest groups weighed in on the issue? (6) How do you assess the past results and future prospects of this issue, and how have these been shaped by the separated powers system? Possible policy issues include: gun registration; assault weapons control; school safety; student standards of achievement; classroom size; teacher recruitment/compensation; health care for the uninsured; HMO patients' rights; Internet privacy; protection of children from sexually explicit materials on the Internet; telemarketing fraud protection; restraints on tobacco advertising; college student aid; raising the minimum wage; inheritance tax cuts; capital gains tax cuts; education tax credits; school vouchers; Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; campaign finance reform; foreign aid to Africa; foreign aid to the Middle East; Cuba embargo; 21-year-old drinking age; interstate highway construction and repair; human rights in China; implementing the Wye River agreements (Israel/Palestine); intervention in east Timor, Bosnia, Kosovo, or wherever; international population control; school prayer; late-term abortions; National Forest user fees.
2. HOW FEDERALISM AFFECTS POLICYMAKING
Select a public policy issue that interests you (see above). Write your essay to explain how policymaking and implementation have been influenced by our federal system (national, state, and local entities). Here's a sample outline: (1) Identify and explain the policy issue at hand. (2) What has been the federal government's involvement in this issue? (2) How have states made policy concerning this issue? (3) How is the policy implemented between the states and federal government? (4) How do you assess the past results and future prospects of the issue, and how have they been shaped by the federal system? Aside from the chapter on federalism in the textbook, the article by Morton Grodzins, "The `Marble Cake' Theory of Federalism," is a good starting point. While there are no explicit limits on sources, the more you know about your particular policy question, the more precise and colorful your discussion will be.
3. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES
This essay should begin with a concise discussion of the mechanisms for obtaining a presidential nomination and then election to the presidency itself. What are the major demands faced by candidates at each stage of the process, and what does it takes to gain success? Now examine the 2000 presidential race by selecting two (2) candidates, one a Democrat and the other a Republican. Compare and contrast their assets and resources, their liabilities, and their different strategies. Who seems to be waging the more effective campaign, and why? What would you recommend that these two candidates do in order to maximize their chances of victory?
4. THIRD PARTIES IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ARENA
Choose a mythical third party presidential candidate (ie. Pat Buchanan, Donald Trump, etc.) and discuss why that candidate is at a disadvantage in confronting the candidates representing the two major parties. Draw upon the theoretical material presented in the readings, historical examples, and lectures; investigate your candidate's strategies and resources in competing in the presidential arena. What should be the candidate's goals, and how would you measure the candidate's success as a result of competing in the 2000 race?
5. INTEREST GROUPS IN AMERICAN POLITICS
Begin this essay with a concise discussion of the role of interest groups in American politics. Include in your discussion the Founders' conception of interest groups, and contemporary views about the power and effects of contemporary group activity. Select a current interest group and describe its political goals, its resources, its techniques of influence, and its overall success in the political arena. How does this group's performance - its successes or its failures - illustrate the Founders' views about groups?
6. THE FOUNDERS ON SEPARATION OF POWERS
Explain the Founders' concern with distributing power among three branches of government, known as separation of powers or checks and balances. Remember to employ many of the key ideas that you have encountered in your readings and the text. Also, take into consideration the concerns of the historical era in which the Constitution was being debated. Please utilize outside sources, as well, which may be drawn from both political science and other social science/humanities fields.
1. DUE DATES: A one-page proposal and brief outline should be turned on Thursday, March. 30. The completed term paper (see below) is due Thursday, May 25.
1. LENGTH: approximately 2000 words (about eight pages, assuming around 250 words per page). Please paginate (i.e., number the pages).
2. FORMAT: 12 pt. Times New Roman or Helvetica are preferred fonts. Double-space with reasonable margins (default margins are usually okay). Be sure your printer is producing copies dark enough to be read clearly.
3. COPIES: Submit a readable copy with a cover page (containing the title; your name, Pol Sci 1, my name, and the date; (2) text of the paper (length indicated above); and (3) list of references or bibliography on a separate page. Staple the package in the top left corner. (Do not waste your money on those transparent plastic folders.) It's a good idea to include your name with pagination, in case the pages come apart.
4. SOURCES: You are expected to do the bulk of your research in the Library. There may on-line sources for some relevant material - e.g., the web sites of certain newspapers and periodicals, interest groups, political parties, or elected officials. Many of these sites (like some printed materials) are established to convey a specific point of view - in which case you should exercise caution, though of course you can use them to illustrate the group's or individual's particular viewpoint.
4. REFERENCES: You may use any reasonable, consistent style of indicating sources. Footnotes (superscript numbers in the text, keyed either to footnotes at the bottom of the page or at the end of the paper) are the most common practice. But what is called the journal style can also work effectively and don't involve numbering: author's last name and year of publication are placed in parentheses within the text, keyed to an alphabetical list of sources at the end of the paper). The Library handout suggests some standard forms of reference. THE BASIC PRINCIPLE of referencing sources is: your reader should be able to identify and locate the source of each idea or quote you have drawn from your research.
5. ONE MORE REMINDER ABOUT PLAGIARISM: Obviously you will need to consult a variety of sources in preparing your paper. But the paper itself must be your own construction. You will organize the material and marshall the points you are making, giving proper citation to the sources you have consulted. According to the Campus Regulations, "representing the words, ideas, or concepts of another person without appropriate attribution is plagiarism. Whenever another person's written work is utilized, whether it be a single phrase or longer, quotation marks must be used and sources cited. Paraphrasing another's work, i.e., borrowing the ideas or concepts and putting them into one's `own' words, must also be acknowledged." Turning in work procured from another source or submitting the same paper to two classes is other forms of academic dishonesty. Any act of plagiarism or other form of academic dishonesty will be rewarded with an automatic "F" and referral to the administration for further action. Feigned ignorance of these standards is NOT a defense.