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 organizations and powers of state and local governments in the United States. Content includes constitutions and problems of revision; legislators and legislation; voting and campaigning; 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

A. Identify and describe the place of the states in our federal system.

B. Identify and describe the place of the various and multiple local governments in our state and federal systems.

C. Analyze the structure, as well as the nature of power, of the three branches of state government.

D. Evaluate the relationships of power that exist between and among those branches.

E. Analyze the various types of urban and suburban governments.

F. 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

In order to accomplish this, the course will follow this outline of topics:

A. The Democratic Values and the Constitution
        1. The basic values of democracy as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as well as in the writings of the Founding Fathers.
        2. The background of the Constitution: Bill of Rights
        3. The grants of power contained in the Constitution.
        4. The limitations placed on the federal government by the Constitution
B. Political Parties, Voting and Campaigns
        1. The nature of American political parties: historical development, traditional functions, current structure, strengths, and weaknesses.
        2. Political Socialization: the origins of party, issue, and candidate orientation.
        3. The factors that influence voting behavior.
        4. The nature of campaigning: styles, strategies, impact, etc., and how these have changed over time.
        5. Interest groups and their involvement in the electoral and policy process.
C. Federalism
        1. Evolution of the federal system.
        2. Four phases of federalism
        3. Federalism today
D. State Legislatures
        1. District Magnitude
        2. Primary election type
        3. Redistricting practices
        4. Campaign finance laws
        5. Terms limits and turnover
        6. Governors, local leadership, and governance
        7. State-Local Relations
E. Education, Environmental and Health Care Policy
        1. Taxing and spending
        2. Criminal justice
        3. Social welfare
F. The Judiciary
        1. Law in a democracy
        2. The origins and uses of judicial review
        3. The structure and functions of the judiciary
        4. Politics and the courts
        5. Civil Liberties

VII.  Methods of Instruction


Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:

A. Read a standard textbook and research materials.

B. 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.

C. 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.

Donovan, Todd, Christopher, Daniel & Smith (2011). State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform. (Wadsworth).

Squire, P. & Moncrief (2015). State Legislatures Today: Politics under the Domes. (Rowman & Littlefield).

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grades are based on factors that include exams, quizzes, written assignments, problem solving sets, classroom participation, and class presentations.

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

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.