Introduction

American politics has all the aspects of drama, but it has real meaning for people’s everyday lives.

What are the foundations of the U.S. political system? How do leading institutions such as the presidency and Congress operate? Where do public opinion, political parties, groups, and the media fit in? What explains America’s economic, social, and foreign policies?

If exploring these questions interests you, then this is the course for you. This course is an introduction to the U.S. government that draws on political science and cases—such as the Iraq invasion and health care reform—to explain how the U.S. government system works.

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No previous study of American politics needed. Join us on a journey into the heart of the U.S. governing system. This course is ideal for:

  • College and advanced placement high school students looking for an introduction to American government.
  • U.S.-based political science and government teachers looking for a way to augment their own courses.
  • Global teachers and educators looking to explain the American political system to their students and citizens.
  • Individuals in the U.S. and abroad who want to understand the workings of the U.S. political system.

Meet The Faculty

Thomas E. Patterson

Thomas E. Patterson

Bradlee Professor of Government & The Press

Thomas E. Patterson is Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is author of the book Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism, published in October 2013. His earlier book, The Vanishing Voter, looks at the causes and consequences of electoral participation, and his book on the media’s political role, Out of Order, received the American Political Science Association’s Graber Award as the best book of the decade in political communication. His first book, The Unseeing Eye, was named by the American Association for Public Opinion Research as one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century. He is also the author of the award winning Mass Media Election (1980), and a general American government text, We the People, now in the 11thedition. His articles have appeared in Political CommunicationJournal of Communication, and other academic journals, as well as in the popular press. His research has been funded by the Ford, Markle, Smith-Richardson, Pew, Knight, Carnegie, and National Science foundations. Patterson received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1971.

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