Core concepts in American government
Author: Jeanne Zaino
Contributing Author: Michele DeMary
Find in Blough-Weis Library
Faculty-authored chapter: "The Judiciary," by Michele DeMary This text uses the cultural appeal of “lists” and “rank orders” as a pedagogical tool applied to American government. Each chapter presents a list of the top things a student should know about that topic, and then carefully and accessibly explores each of the items in the list. The lists contained in the text are used to teach introductory students what many scholars agree are the key, core aspects of American government. There is something people seem to find irresistible about lists and rank orders. There is also something almost unseemly or dangerous about them. This text uses both of these factors–the appeal and problems of “lists” and “rank orders”–as a pedagogical tool. The reader is asked to approach the lists critically and to think about what they might add to the list, what they might remove from the list, what they find problematic about the rank order, and so forth. Consequently, the lists serve to draw the students into the topic, to help them learn more about American government, and to use their critical thinking skills to critique the content and order of the lists. In a typical semester, it is nearly impossible to teach someone everything they can and should know about a topic as broad as American government and politics. Therefore, the two primary goals of this text are to (a) give introductory students the basic tools necessary to understand American government and politics in a format that is appealing and (b) in so doing giving them the background necessary to put current events and enduring questions into context.