Pre Departure Readings | Summer Institute | SIU

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Summer Institute

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Optional Pre-Departure Readings

The U.S. Department of State has prepared a number of publications on the topics we will be discussing this summer. Go online to obtain their publication Democracy in Brief. Read it before leaving home.

SIU is fortunate to be the home of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, named for its founder and first Director, the late U.S. Senator from Illinois. Among the papers available on the Simon Institute’s website for reading, you may find those of Summer Institute Academic Co-Director John Jackson to be of particular interest given Barack Obama’s successful ascension to the presidency in 2008 and 2012 reelection. These are:


The most recent edition of the text The American Democracy by Thomas Patterson, one of the leading politics and media scholars in the nation, will be the core text for our program. It has sections on U.S. government, politics, history, and culture as well as our primary areas of public policy emphasis. 

Our second text is The American Political Party System, also by John Jackson, and published by the Brookings Institute. This book documents the transition of American political parties since the 1970s with the Republicans becoming the conservative alternative and the Democrats the liberal alternative. This realignment led to what is often called the "polarization" of American government and politics, which indicates a divided government reflectling a nation which is divided at both elite and mass levels, and what this means for the ability of the president to govern.

These texts will be provided to you upon your arrival in Carbondale.  Read the appropriate chapters of each as indicated in the syllabus before each class session. In particular, note the Key Terms section at the end of each Patterson chapter.  It is a good list of American political and policy jargon.  

Additional materials will be provided during virtually every session. You also will have many opportunities to purchase additional books and materials during your stay.