Washington, DC History, Culture and Politics

Course Description:

This is a course about “place;” the unique “place” of Washington, DC as America’s “National City.” It is designed not only to introduce you to the fascinating world of Washington, DC through the “Triple Frames” of history, politics and culture, but also to facilitate both individual and group exploration of the larger American political community which Washington, DC uniquely represents. Of all American cities, it is the only one whose origins are in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17).

This exploration will be viewed through the continuously changing interaction of social, economic and political factors; and the role of Washington, DC, as the cultural symbol of our unique political community where every citizen is equal under the law. Throughout the semester, we will regularly ask – and discuss – the question, “What difference do the history and culture of Washington, DC make to our larger political community and the policies that our government creates and implements?”

In doing so, we will consider the dynamic factors at work within a representative democracy to include the influence and role of the media; the impact of technology – to include social media – on the political process; the role of public opinion; the role and influence of grassroots social movements; and the way in which specific issues have galvanized large numbers of American voters, and the significance of our “National City” to these issues and movements.   In this way, we will seek to gain insights into our larger political community and the stake – and responsibility – that we, as citizens, have in addressing the challenges facing our nation.

Learning Framework:

Learning in this course will take place within a broad context that includes; readings and class discussion combined with individual and group reflection and research. Guest speaker forums, “on your own” walkabouts and cultural experiences in the city (visiting museums, local jazz clubs, ethnic restaurants and attending concerts, to name a few) and class field trips are also included. Overall, you will gain an appreciation for the exploration of Washington, DC Politics, Culture and History as a “team sport” involving broad engagement, conversations and experiences within the larger contexts of your internships in our “National City.

Learning Outcomes:  

Students who successfully complete this course will achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Active Citizenship and Civic Engagement: Students will gain an increased awareness and understanding of and appreciation for political institutions, and contemporary issues and challenges in the American political community; and, the relationship of Washington, DC to their citizenship and engagement.
  • Historical, Cultural and Contemporary Social Aspects of Washington DC: Students will gain an understanding of the relationship between historical, cultural and contemporary social aspects of the city – and region – and be able to make connections between these aspects as they relate to the development and evolution of the nation’s capital and the country as a whole.
  • Personal Reflection and Self-Awareness: Students will enhance their ability to reflect upon and contextualize their experiences in their internship in ways that provide useful personal insights and greater self-awareness in the larger contexts of their active citizenship and academic and professional development.
  • Professional Communication, Interaction and Collaboration: Students will enhance their ability to conceptualize, define and communicate ideas and concepts in professional collaborative environments that require understanding, consideration and accommodation of alternative and competing points of view.
  • Creative, Critical and Systemic Thinking: Students will enhance their skills in analyzing the dynamic complexity of the interaction of social, economic and political issues and their ability to develop creative and inclusive ideas to manage that interaction.

Academic Honesty:

It is the student’s responsibility to be thoroughly familiar with their respective institutions’ and the WISH policy on academic honesty. This policy will be strictly enforced in this classroom. The WISH DC Internship Program catalog defines plagiarism as “intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, or work of another as one’s own in academic exercise.” Any time you use another person’s words; or, use someone else’s ideas or thoughts, they must be cited appropriately. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. Students who engage in academic dishonesty will face a severe grading penalty to include a failing grade on a specific assignment and/or a failing grade for the course. Additionally, WISH policy authorizes referral of the specific incident of academic dishonesty or plagiarism to your parent academic institution for further action as might be appropriate. The student’s parent academic institution and the Director of the WISH Program will be informed of any case of academic dishonesty or plagiarism.

I will accommodate all students with disabilities or special learning requirements in accordance with WISH policy.

Attendance:

Because participation in class is essential to the teaching and learning process, students are expected to attend each class session, including scheduled weekend activities. Weekend activities will be scheduled in advance and with sensitivity to work schedules. In this light, it is expected that students will miss class infrequently and only for good reason. Students will be held responsible for all material covered in class during their absence and for any assignments due on the day of their absence.

  • Washington, DC Take-Home Quiz Series: Students will demonstrate their familiarity with Washington, DC by completing a series of take-home quizzes.
  • Practitioner and Career Forum Guest Speakers: Students will be required to attend and actively participate in three Practitioner and Career Forums and write a reflection on the event. The purpose of these forums is to introduce students to a variety of aspects of the public service and private sectors within DC and the larger National Capitol Region and to inform their thinking about different careers and opportunities available within that community. These are not “recruitment pitches.” Speakers will share their thoughts on matters relevant to the course content and will also describe what careers and opportunities in their particular field look like broadly by discussing their particular roles and experiences and how they “fit in” to the broader community. After the formal presentation, for those students who may be interested, the speaker will be available to discuss more specific aspects of their particular job or organization.
  • Book Review: Students will read a book that explores a facet of history, politics, or culture of Washington, DC. You may select from a list of books that will be provided by the instructor or, you may read a book of your own choosing upon approval by the instructor. Book Reviews will be completed in accordance with a rubric provided by the instructor.

Learning Assessment:

  • Participation: Students will be assessed on the quality of their participation in class and will be expected to complete all assigned readings and attend class prepared to discuss them. Good participation means that you do the assigned readings, reflect upon them and come to class prepared to contribute to meaningful discussions of the subject matter. Additionally, participation in assigned activities during the week including group activities and weekend activities. In general, top grades for participation will be given to those students who are engaged in all aspects of the course.
  • Activity Reflection Papers: Students will complete three 4-page Activity Reflection Papers. In these papers, students will reflect upon an event, experience, or visit relating to their internship and its relationship to their internship and topics discussed in this course. Topics for these papers can be drawn from diverse sources and may include experiences like going to a festival, an art exhibit, a sporting event, a concert, exploring an area of town or, one of the class field trips among others. The purpose of these papers is to have you apply structured reflection to your experiences and provide you an opportunity to express and share your thoughts on those experiences. Papers will be graded on thoughtfulness, thoroughness, writing, and presentation. Papers that are a genuine reflection of your experiences have a good chance for top grades.
  • Wiki: Students will collaborate on developing an Intern Wiki as a resource for future internship classes to learn about Washington, DC. The Wiki will include a variety of entries such as locations to visit, tips for enjoying and surviving DC, and advice for preparing for an internship. Each student will be required to author four 1 page entries. Wiki submissions will be graded on the quality of entries. Entries will be due with Take-Home Quizzes.
  • News Submissions: Students will make six DC News Submissions. Each submission has a value of ten (10) points and is due in hard copy in class in the format specified by a rubric provided by the instructor. There must be one submission from each news source listed below; each on different topics relevant to Washington, DC politics, culture and/or history. No more than one submission can be made in the same week.
  • The Washington Examiner http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/transition
  • Washington City Paper  http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com
  • Washington Hispanic  http://washingtonhispanic.com/portal
  • The Washington Informer http://washingtoninformer.com    
  • Washington Blade   http://www.washingtonblade.com/category/opinions    
  • Street Sense  http://streetsense.org    
  • Washington, DC Take-Home Quiz Series: Students will demonstrate their familiarity with Washington, DC by completing a series of take-home quizzes.
  • Practitioner and Career Forum Guest Speakers: Students will be required to attend and actively participate in three Practitioner and Career Forums and write a reflection on the event. The purpose of these forums is to introduce students to a variety of aspects of the public service and private sectors within DC and the larger National Capitol Region and to inform their thinking about different careers and opportunities available within that community. These are not “recruitment pitches.” Speakers will share their thoughts on matters relevant to the course content and will also describe what careers and opportunities in their particular field look like broadly by discussing their particular roles and experiences and how they “fit in” to the broader community. After the formal presentation, for those students who may be interested, the speaker will be available to discuss more specific aspects of their particular job or organization.
  • Book Review: Students will read a book that explores a facet of history, politics, or culture of Washington, DC. You may select from a list of books that will be provided by the instructor or, you may read a book of your own choosing upon approval by the instructor. Book Reviews will be completed in accordance with a rubric provided by the instructor.

Grading:  

This course will comprise a total of 475 points. Your grade will be determined as follows:

Assignment Points Due Date
Class Participation 40
News Submissions 60 In Class
Activity Reflection Papers 75
Take-Home Quizzes 100
Wiki 100 With Quizzes
Book Review 100

The instructor will provide instructions for all assignments. Participation grades will be calculated based on attendance, in-class participation, communication, and in-class discussion groups. A = -475-442; A- = 441-428; B+ = 427-414; B = 413-395; B- = 394-380; C+ = 379-366; C = 365-347; C-=346-333; D+=332-319; D=318-300; D-=299-285; F=<285.

Classroom Environment:

Higher education is about the free, honest and open pursuit and exchange of ideas. In studying Washington DC Politics, Culture and History, we will be discussing issues that may evoke strong emotion.   In the exchange of ideas, the ideas are subject to critical and substantive discussion; however, the person who presented the idea will not be the subject of criticism. Any behavior or conduct that impedes or prevents the pursuit and free exchange of ideas is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the instructor.

The WISH DC Internship Program and this instructor, are committed to the policy of supporting the education of all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, physical challenges or sexual orientation. The instructor will exercise his authority to maintain a classroom learning environment that is open to and respectful of individuals and ideas and free of any form of prejudice or discrimination.   If a student believes they are the subject of any prejudicial or discriminatory behavior, they should speak with the instructor. If the instructor is unable to adequately address the student’s concerns, the matter will be referred to the WISH Program Director.

Safe Learning Environment:

The WISH DC Internship Program and its faculty are committed to assuring a safe and productive educational environment for all students.

Miscellaneous:

  • Communication – Clear communication between students and faculty is essential. I can be contacted thru my email, which I check my email multiple times daily and I will respond to any email that you send as soon as possible. Periodically, I will send class materials or information out to the entire class through email. You are responsible for maintaining your email account in accordance with applicable WISH Electronic Communication Policies.
  • Class cancellations – Should class be cancelled (for inclement weather or other reasons) any assignments due on the day of cancellation will be due at the following class meeting.
  • Assignments – All assignments will be submitted in hardcopy unless otherwise specified.
  • Missed Classes and Late AssignmentsStudents who expect to miss a class must contact the instructor one week prior to the class they expect to miss. If an assignment is due on the day the student will miss class, an alternative turn in date will be arranged. Students who miss a class during which an assignment is to be turned in without prior notification will receive a grade of zero for the assignment. Exceptions will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Office Hours and Getting Help – I am available and accessible to all students.   Please do not hesitate to contact me to make an appointment to discuss any matter relating to the course. I am available to meet with students following class and by appointment.
  • Copies of Work – Students should retain a copy of all work they submit. Should assignments be misplaced, lost, or destroyed, you can easily produce another copy.
  • Personal Electronic Devices (PED) – I encourage you to bring your I-Phone or I-Pad or other PEDs to class to use as a learning resource. As adults, I expect you to exercise good judgment regarding times when it may be necessary to use your PED during class. If you must make or take a phone call during class, please leave the classroom to do so. I expect such instances to be rare.
Wednesdays
Week 1

Course Introduction

American Political Culture

Week 2

Washington, DC: The “5 Ws” of How it Came to Be

Week 3

Washington, DC History and the American Political Community

Week 4

The National Mall – Our National Conscience and Our Place in the World

Week 5

Practitioner and Career Forum – Guest Speaker: DC History and Political Culture

Lesson Readings: Readings are due in class for the days they are assigned.

  • Week 1:
    • POLS 496DC Syllabus
    • David Hackett Fischer, Liberty and Freedom, Introduction, “A Conversation with Capt Preston, pp 1-8; and 11-15.”
  • Week 2:
    • Fortier, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
    • S. Constitution, Article I
  • Week 3:
    • Federalist 10
    • Federalist 51
    • Federalist 68
  • Week 4:
    • Fortier, Chapters 8 and 11
    • Review the Holocaust Museum Website
    • Greenburg, A Review of Edward Linenthal’s, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum
  • Week 5:
    • Readings TBD

Important Dates:

  • Xx Xxxx – Quiz #1
  • Xx Xxxx – (Saturday) – Visit National Archives
  • xx Xxxx – Quiz #2
  • xx Xxxx – Activity Reflection #1
  • xx Xxxx – Saturday – Visit Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • xx Xxxx – Quiz #3
Wednesdays
Week 6

·       The Capitol and Congress

Week 7

·       The White House and the President

Week 8

·       The Supreme Court and the Judiciary

Week 9

·       Practitioner and Career Forum – Guest Speaker: Contemporary Policy Discussion

Week 10

·       Washington, DC and the Civil War

Week 11

·       “U Street Corridor” and Economic, Social and Political Change

Week 12

·       Walking Tour of the National Mall

Week 13

·       Practitioner and Career Forum – Guest Speaker: DC, Public Service and Political Community

Week 14

·       Class Discussion and Final Thoughts

·       Wicki Review

Assigned Readings:  Readings are due in class for the days they are assigned.

  • Week 13:
    • Readings TBD
  • Week 14: No Readings Due – Course Conclusion

Important Dates:

  • xx Xxxx – Take-Home Quiz #4 Due
  • xx Xxxx – (Saturday) Visit Arlington National Cemetery
  • xx Xxxx – Activity Reflection #2 Due
  • xx Xxxx – (Saturday) Visit Ford’s Theater Historic Site
  • xx Xxxx – Activity Reflection #3 Due
  • xx Xxxx – (8:00a.m. Saturday) – Visit Naval Academy and Annapolis
  • xx Xxxx – Book Review Due – Course Wrap-up and Conclusion

Apply now for a semester in Washington!

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