Syllabus-Overview & Learning Goals- 6 Week Online (Distance Learning) Summer Class

U.S. Politics and Government- Poli Sci 1 Syllabus- 


What if you could get academic credit for doing something really fun and really meaningful?  What if you could learn about some of the most important things going on in the world today? What if you could take a really fun college class where you forgot about the grade because the content was so interesting and learning was made easy in part because it challenged you to think in new ways? Well it's your lucky day because this class does all of these things!

But let's be real too. This is a 4-unit college level class in which you'll be expected to learn and at the end of the day you'll get a grade. You must make time in your schedule to succeed. Many students take a summer class or an online class thinking that it isn't a "real" college class and that they can do it in their spare time. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. This class is a serious, 4-unit college-level class requiring a college-level commitment to learn. Please do a Google search right now using this search term: "How many hours should a college student study?" As you can see, the recommended norm is 2 to 4 hours per unit of class. And taking the class in summer means that it moves TWICE AS FAST-- students do 12 weeks worth of work in 6 weeks of time. Add to this the fact that you must ALSO put in the time you would normally spend in class-- 8 hours each week during the summer. If you are taking 2 summer classes, you are a FULL-TIME student, meaning you should treat it like a FULL TIME job. I have reduced the course load for the summer class compared to my Fall/Winter/Spring class, but it's steady, fast-paced and serious work. Please be prepared to learn.

Having said that, it's not at all hard to earn a good grade in the class if you take yourself seriously, study hard and have a good attitude about learning. And we'll provide a LOT of help if you want it!!!

How we'll learn:

Okay. So, why is this class so much fun? Well, part of it is HOW we learn in this class. We'll do a lot of hands-on learning. We'll collaborate. We'll take the time to get to know each other and we'll use the amazing power of your collective minds to create a really exciting class. Though this class is on-line, that does NOT mean it is anonymous and "on your own." A lot of your learning will be collaborative and you will have regular assignments that require you to interact with other classmates and community members both online and in-person. In addition to the hands-on participation in and out of "class," this class also calls for regular reading, weekly writing, and regular quizzes. In general, you will not be required to be on campus and you should be able to arrange your homework/assignments and interactions with people on a schedule that is convenient to you. But, if you are looking for a class where you can be anonymous and do not have to interact with anyone, this is not the class for you.

What we'll learn (student learning goals*):

There are six things you're going to get to understand really well in 6 weeks. (You can see below a  calendar summary of what topics we'll be covering in what weeks and when assignments are due.) We can formally call these 6 items our "Learning Goals":

  1. First and foremost, you'll learn HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AND COMMUNITY WORK BETTER through local political participation. The next five "learning goals" flow from this first goal. So...
  2. You'll understand HOW POWER AND POLITICS WORK IN THE U.S. By the end of the term you'll understand both the major institutions of the formal government and also the other major social structures that shape all of the big decisions in our lives. That is, not only will you know "how a bill becomes a law" in the formal system of "public" government, but we’ll also pull back to the curtain on the “private” system of government where key decisions are made that most people don’t even know about or think about.
  3. You will learn how to be a part of your community through POLITICAL PARTICIPATION. You'll learn not just how to vote, but also
    • how to be community organizers! You'll learn how to build and use “grassroots” democratic power—for example:
    • how to use the power of narrative story telling to shape and communicate a message;  
    • how to use social media to reach your friends and build a stronger more active community; 
    • how to recruit volunteers and to build effective political campaigns; and 
    • how to build stronger relationships with people to act as citizens in the very best meaning of that term. 
  4. You will learn to THINK MORE CRITICALLY and SHARPEN YOUR OWN POLITICAL VALUES. You'll learn how to see past the smoke and mirrors that are meant to distract you. You'll get to understand and clarify what’s important to you and why. You will learn to better understand the impact of political decisions, both in your own life, and also in the lives of other people and the planet.
  5. You'll become a much smarter and more interesting person because you'll UNDERSTAND AND LEARN TO TALK ABOUT KEY IMPORTANT ISSUES:
    • the struggle over control of the mass media and an open internet
    • environmental sustainability & the climate crisis
    • social class inequality & worker rights
    • race, immigration and racism
    • gender, sexism, male oppression & other gender-based politics
    • corporate & global capitalism
    • "big money” plutocracy & the inequality of wealth and power
  6. Finally, you’ll learn HOW GRASSROOTS DEMOCRATIC SOCIAL MOVEMENTS HAVE BEEN THE ENGINE OF DEMOCRACY IN THE U.S.—how regular people like you and me have worked in the past and are working right now to organize their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to improve our communities.

So if this sounds like something you'd like to do, stick around. I look forward to getting to know you in this class.

Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, JD, Ph.D
Chair, Political Science Department
De Anza College

Please read your Canvas syllabus for details regarding required course work, textbooks, deadlines, etc.



* The three formal “learning goals” from the official De Anza course outline are as follows: 1. Students will evaluate how political decisions are shaped by institutions and processes. 2. Students will assess the impact of political decisions on individuals and groups. 3. Students will demonstrate the capacity to effectively participate in the political process. All six learning goals for this class are an elaboration/expansion of these three.