State and Local Government

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSC 102

       Course Name: State and Local Government

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course discusses organization and powers of state and local governments in the United States. Content includes constitutions and problems of revision; legislators and legislation; voting and campaigning; the role of state and local interest groups; administrative problems, the state judiciary and judicial reform; intergovernmental relations; and financing major services. IAI S5 902

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and describe the place of the states in our federal system.
  2. Identify and describe the place of the various and multiple local governments in our state and federal systems.
  3. Analyze the structure, as well as the nature of the power, of the three branches of state government.
  4. Evaluate the relationships of power that exist between and among those branches.
  5. Analyze the various types of urban and suburban governments.
  6. Evaluate the nature of the problems that confront governments in metropolitan areas.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. The State in the Federal System
    1. An understanding of federalism in theory and practice.
    2. An understanding of the powers possessed by state government, as well as areas where they lack power.
  2. The Nature of State Government
    1. An understanding of the nature of state government:
      1. The legislature
      2. The executive
      3. The judiciary
    2. Politics at the state level
  3. The Strengths and Weaknesses of State Government in Dealing with State Problems
    1. The nature of the problems.
    2. Resources: money—the power of taxation and limits on the power.
    3. Resources: people—the nature of leadership.
  4. Local Government in the State System: Cities as Creations of the State
  5. The Nature of Local Government
    1. An understanding of politics in big cities: the history-machine politics and reform politics
    2. An understanding of politics in the suburb: the history-the nature of good government reform politics in the suburbs.
    3. An understanding of politics in the metropolitan area: city vs. suburbs-the politics of fragmentation.
  6. The Strengths and Weaknesses of Local Governments in Dealing with Local Problems
    1. An understanding of the nature of the problems:
      1. metropolitan wide problems
        1. the fractionalization of political problems
        2. the chances for metropolitan wide government
      2. big city problems:
        1. financial resources: tax base and taxing power
        2. human resources: the problem of civic leadership
        3. machine and reform government
      3. suburban problems:
        1. financial resources: tax base and taxing power
        2. human resources: the problem of apathy
        3. political leadership resources: the problems and advantages of "good government" government in the suburbs

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Classes will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:

  1. Read a standard textbook and research materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 12-14 double-spaced typed pages in the form of a term paper, summaries of journal articles, short research papers, and/or other kinds of writing.
  3. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The most current editions of the following texts are being used:

Berman, State and Local Politics
Illinois Issues
Gray, American States and Cities

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

Students will also be evaluated on a combination of written assignments and in- and out-of- class assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

Support Services: Tutoring is available in the Learning Center.

Important Dates: *

XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw and have course dropped from record
XX/XX:    Last day to change to Audit
XX/XX:    Last day for students to submit materials to make up incomplete from the previous semester
XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw from classes with a "W"

*These dates differ for each semester. You'll find the correct dates on the Academic Calendar.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at