This course is a primer for life in America. That is, it creates a foundation for much of what we are and who we are as Americans.

Such as: How did we become the United States? How did we get the kind of legal system we got? What did the Founding Fathers found? How did the Supreme Court become so significant in our lives? Why do we have an electoral college (and what’s wrong with it)?

Lately we have been forced to reexamine our commitment to habeas corpus. Where did the concept come from? To what extent can the government ignore habeas corpus in the name of protecting its citizens? What freedoms are we willing to give up to guarantee our security?

The First Amendment is the foundation for individual liberties in America.
It guarantees freedom of religion, speech, the press, the right of assembly and the right to petition the government.

And yet, other questions regarding the First Amendment are still being debated. What kind of restrictions can be placed on students in public schools? Is prayer in school acceptable? Can students be required to salute the American flag? Can crosses be burned as an act of protest? What about burning the flag?

We have moved more and more toward transparency in government.
That includes requiring government agencies to hold open meetings and making governments responsible as a result of freedom of information legislation.

Contrary to what we would like to believe, democracy is not well-ordered. It is not simply a matter of everyone agreeing on everything. Instead, it is raucous, divisive, contentious and messy. Welcome to the fray !

Professor David McHam
Office: Communications Building Room 213
Phone: (713)743-2872

Original Design by David Tong