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State and Local Government

Course Number: PS 203
Transcript Title: State and Local Government
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: April 1, 2015
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode: Face-to-Face, Hybrid, Online


WR 115, RD 115, MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Examines state and local government policy formulation and outcomes on issues ranging from taxation to prisons, and education to environmental concerns. Focuses on Oregon state and local politics. PS 201, 202, and 203 need not be taken in sequence. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Apply an understanding of diversity of human experience and culture in relationship to how we think and interact with others with regards to controversies associated with state and local government policies.
  2. Employ different methods of inquiry and analytical skills to conceptually organize experiences and discern meaning from ongoing study of state and local government policy making structures and policy formulation.
  3. Analyze the roles of individuals and political institutions as these relate to contemporary problems and issues ranging from taxation to prisons and education to environmental concerns.
  4. Use the ability to reason quantitatively and qualitatively using analytical skills expressed in both written and oral communication to address political problems at the state and local government levels in the U.S.
  5. Develop and articulate personal value judgments, respecting points of view, while practicing ethical and social requirements of responsible citizenship by participating in elections, and other opportunities for action at the state and local government levels in the U.S.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will distribute a course syllabus which clearly includes the criteria for assigning course grades.

  1. Exams comprised of essay and/or objective (like short answer) elements which require integration, application, and critical examination of course concepts, issues, and themes.
  2. Short analytical or application papers on specific concepts, issues, or themes.
  3. Term or research papers, using a variety of research strategies.
  4. Oral presentations resulting from group research, analysis, and critical evaluation.
  5. Participation in class discussions, role plays, case studies, workshops, and/or other activities.
  6. Response papers or journals reflecting on life experiences, events, and social/political phenomena.
  7. Service-learning tasks: involving service to community, reflection, and application of course criteria.

Texts and Materials

All texts are selected at the each instructor's discretion. However, successful past offerings of this course and a desire to have some continuity of pedagogy among the instructors has encouraged the adoption of the following text in its State and Local Version - thereby encouraging students to complete the entire PS 201, 202, and 203 sequence using the same textbook.

Government By the People (State and Local Version), by Burns, Peltason, Cronin, and Magleby (Prentice-Hall Publishers, 2000).

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts, Issues

After completing this course, the student should have a basic understanding of:

  1. Concepts including "elitism", "pluralism", and "hyper pluralism" as these may help explain political realities at the state and/or local levels in different parts of the United States.
  2. How policy making structures operating on state and local levels are influenced by political parties, interest groups, and the impact of money upon campaigns for political office.
  3. Selected case studies illustrating the dynamics of state and local government politics upon policy outcomes which impact all persons within the realm of a particular jurisdiction.
  4. The relationship of personal behavior and lifestyle choices to crises and conflicts which took place in the past, continue into the present, and may or may not be transcended in the future.
  5. How one's own values and actions impact what is seen as right and wrong, good and bad, and the prospects for a future to unfold that is more to one's liking.

Competencies and Skills

  1. Write and communicate orally in a clear, organized, and effective manner.
  2. Think critically about current public policy issues and analyze complex social and political realities.
  3. Use varied and effective research techniques and strategies.
  4. Develop and refine group process skills, which may include listening, brainstorming, cooperating, negotiating, or otherwise communicating regarding shared tasks.
  5. Develop an ability to listen to and empathize with diverse perspectives and experiences.
  6. Integrate coursework with current events and trends through examination of popular media and various sources of news.
  7. Develop and practice active citizenship skills.