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Collaborative Learning in Course Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  Van Vechten, 27 U.S. Congress (GOV 304) Spring 2007, MW 11:30am-12:50pm Instructor: Dr. Renée Van Vechten Office hours: Weds. afternoon by appt. & Office: Hall of Letters 316 Thursdays 11:00am-2pm e-mail: ## email not listed ## Phone: (909) 748-8601 Course Description The U.S. Congress is among the most extensively studied political institutions of our time. In this course, we will tap into the wide-ranging literature that explores the theoretical foundations, history, major trends, current practices, and processes of this venerable deliberative body. Our readings and discussions will be enhanced by a semester-long Congressional simulation, a role-based exercise designed to convey how legislative decisions are made. To this end, your sustained participation is expected and demanded. To gain a sufficient general understanding of the institution’s evolution, we begin with a look at Constitutional origins, and review patterns of development manifest in two centuries of political history. We then shift our view to the membership to consider who gets recruited for office, who runs and wins, what their motivations are, and how their behavior reflects the dual goals of representation and deliberation. How members fulfill their duties also concerns us, and we explore the institutional setting with a look at committees, leadership, and parties, and the rules and procedures that structure decision making. Finally, we consider the wider, interactive institutional setting, in which the executive, courts, media, and special interests help condition the inner workings of the Congress itself. Our critical evaluation of Congress will be advanced through the combining of theory and practice in a Congressional simulation. You will assume the identity of a Representative of the House, introduce a bill into Congress, and participate in the formulation of policy in our semester-long project, which will culminate in a full floor session in the last part of the course. Immersion in a dynamic setting such as this should allow you to comprehend the fundamental tension between representation and deliberation, to recognize the impact of money and politics on outcomes, to understand the difficult task of fulfilling electoral, partisan, and constitutional objectives, and to become familiar with the history, processes, and institutionalization of what has been called “the foremost democratic legislature in the world.” Required Reading DAV/OLZ Davidson, Roger, and Walter Oleszek. 2005. Congress and Its Members, 10 th Ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). DODD Dodd, Lawrence and Bruce Oppenheimer. 2005. Congress Reconsidered, 8 th Ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). SINCLAIR Sinclair, Barbara. 2000. Unorthodox Lawmaking. 2 nd Ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). BELL Bell, Lauren Cohen. 2004. The United States Congress: A Simulation for Students. (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing). Recommended Reading (ON RESERVE AT THE LIBRARY): Oleszek, Walter. 2003. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, 6 th Ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press).

Authors: Van Vechten, Renee.
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Van Vechten, 27
U.S. Congress (GOV 304)
Spring 2007, MW 11:30am-12:50pm
Instructor:
Dr. Renée Van Vechten
Office hours: Weds. afternoon by appt. &
Office:
Hall of Letters 316
Thursdays 11:00am-2pm
e-mail:
## email not listed ## Phone: (909) 748-8601
Course Description
The U.S. Congress is among the most extensively studied political institutions of our time.
In this course, we will tap into the wide-ranging literature that explores the theoretical
foundations, history, major trends, current practices, and processes of this venerable deliberative
body. Our readings and discussions will be enhanced by a semester-long Congressional
simulation, a role-based exercise designed to convey how legislative decisions are made. To this
end, your sustained participation is expected and demanded.
To gain a sufficient general understanding of the institution’s evolution, we begin with a look
at Constitutional origins, and review patterns of development manifest in two centuries of
political history. We then shift our view to the membership to consider who gets recruited for
office, who runs and wins, what their motivations are, and how their behavior reflects the dual
goals of representation and deliberation. How members fulfill their duties also concerns us, and
we explore the institutional setting with a look at committees, leadership, and parties, and the
rules and procedures that structure decision making. Finally, we consider the wider, interactive
institutional setting, in which the executive, courts, media, and special interests help condition
the inner workings of the Congress itself.
Our critical evaluation of Congress will be advanced through the combining of theory and
practice in a Congressional simulation. You will assume the identity of a Representative of the
House, introduce a bill into Congress, and participate in the formulation of policy in our
semester-long project, which will culminate in a full floor session in the last part of the course.
Immersion in a dynamic setting such as this should allow you to comprehend the fundamental
tension between representation and deliberation, to recognize the impact of money and politics
on outcomes, to understand the difficult task of fulfilling electoral, partisan, and constitutional
objectives, and to become familiar with the history, processes, and institutionalization of what
has been called “the foremost democratic legislature in the world.”
Required Reading
DAV/OLZ
Davidson, Roger, and Walter Oleszek. 2005. Congress and Its Members, 10
th
Ed.
(Washington, DC: CQ Press).
DODD
Dodd, Lawrence and Bruce Oppenheimer. 2005. Congress Reconsidered, 8
th
Ed.
(Washington, DC: CQ Press).
SINCLAIR
Sinclair, Barbara. 2000. Unorthodox Lawmaking. 2
nd
Ed. (Washington, DC: CQ
Press).
BELL
Bell, Lauren Cohen. 2004. The United States Congress: A Simulation for
Students. (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing).
Recommended Reading (ON RESERVE AT THE LIBRARY):
Oleszek, Walter. 2003. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, 6
th
Ed.
(Washington, DC: CQ Press).


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