American Political Thought

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSC 210

       Course Name: American Political Thought

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces political convictions and ideologies. Content includes examination of principles as bases of our American political system and as influences in the shaping of America’s political history.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the historical events and describe the ideologies that shaped the Founding Fathers’ political views;
  2. Define the perspectives of the Founding Fathers and explain how those perspectives helped shape the structures of American government;
  3. Analyze the development of American political thought and interpret the impact of that development on the evolution of America's political institutions;
  4. Analyze the current dominant philosophical ideologies and evaluate their role in shaping the policy-making process;
  5. Evaluate and interpret representative works of American political thought.

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. Origins
    1. Natural Law theory
    2. Constitutionalism
    3. Lockean Liberalism
    4. Montesquieu
  2. The Founding Fathers
    1. The Declaration of Independence
    2. The philosophy of the Articles of Confederation
    3. The philosophy of the state constitutions
    4. The philosophy of the U.S. Constitution
  3. Hamiltonian Federalism
  4. Jeffersonian Republicanism
  5. jacksonian Democracy
  6. Transcendentalism
  7. Slavery and the Nature of the Union
    1. John C. Calhoun and the Concurrent Majority
    2. The Abolitionist Crusade
    3. Lincoln: The Union – An Indissoluble Chain
  8. The Gospel of Wealth
  9. The Social Gospel
  10. Wilson: The U.S. in the World Arena
  11. The New Deal: Social Rights Citizenship
  12. The Courts and Civil Liberties
  13. Contemporary Ideologies

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:

Dolbeare and Dolbeare, American Ideologies
Frisch and Stevens, American Political Thought
Mason and Leach, In Quest of Freedom

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

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.