The president of the United States is at the center of the American political system and is the focus of great national (and international) attention. This course examines the foundation of the office of the presidency and the sources of presidential power; the evolution of the presidency and the current structure of the office; the way presidential candidates campaign for the White House; the ways in which presidents organize and manage the executive branch; the manner in which they make decisions to shape domestic, economic, and foreign policy; and the relationship of the presidency to other institutions and political actors, such as Congress, the courts, political parties, interest groups, the media, and the public. The course explores the strategic choices available to modern American presidents in their efforts to augment the power of the presidency and provide active leadership to the political system. In addition to providing students with an overview of the American political system from the unique vantage point of the president, the course gives them the opportunity to study one of the most exciting, relevant, and at times controversial, political institutions in the world.
Harvard Extension School