Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2021
Units: 5
Hours: 5 lecture per week (60 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable


Provides students with the opportunity to develop and formulate their own perspectives on California politics. The course will explore policymaking and the exercise of power within the federal framework, including but not limited to state and local issues and institutions. The course will begin by studying the basic constitutional framework of the state government, compare and examine the state's relationship with the federal government, and then focus on political issues that California is currently facing.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Describe the structure of the California state government and explain the duties of each branch.
B. Compare and contrast the main institutions and processes of California government with those of the national government.
C. Compare and contrast the California Constitution with the U.S. Constitution.
D. Identify the progressives' impact on California government and politics.
E. Explain the demographic composition of California in the 21st century, and the relationship between demography and political behavior.
F. Evaluate major contemporary public policy issues confronting California.

Course Content

A. California History
1. American period
2. Building the American dream in California
3. Civil rights movements in California
4. Economic development
B. Diversity and Political Culture
1. Definition of concept
2. California's political culture
3. Immigration and population changes
4. Regionalism in California
C. Constitution and Governing Structure
1. State constitutions in the federal system
2. California's constitutional history
3. The state constitution and direct democracy
4. Comparison of United States and California constitutions
D. Political Parties
1. History of California's political parties
a. Realignments
2. Progressive legacy
a. Direct democracy; initiative, recall, referendum
3. Anti-partisanship
4. Organizational structure
5. 3rd and minor parties
E. Interest Groups
1. Types of interest groups in California
2. Tactics utilized by interest groups in California
3. Role of interest groups in state politics
F. The Media
1. Media markets in California
2. Media conglomerates
3. Democratization of news sources
4. Role of the media in state politics
G. Political Behavior, Campaigns, and Elections
1. Political geography
a. Party registration
b. Ideology
2. Voting behavior
3. Campaigning in California
H. Formal Institutions
1. California legislature
2. Executive branch
a. The budget process
3. Judiciary
I. Local Government
1. Different frameworks of local government
2. Relationship between county and state governments
3. Areas of responsibility
J. Contemporary Public Policy Issues
1. Policy analysis: environment
2. Policy analysis: transportation
3. Policy analysis: corrections and rehab
4. Policy analysis: education
K. California in the Future
1. Succession
2. Globalization

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment


Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Formative:
1. Analytic policy papers (500-1000 words)
2. Interviews (500-1000 words)
3. Civic action project work
B. Summative:
1. Research paper (2000-2500 words)
2. Oral presentations (15-20 minutes)
3. Examinations (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short essay)

Method(s) of Instruction

A. Chunked interactive lectures and guest lectures
B. Small and large group discussions
C. Collaborative group projects
D. Independent written research project
E. Analysis of current events and media coverage
F. Engagement in local policy making process

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Anagnoson, Theodore, Gerald Bonetto, Vincent Buck, et al. Governing California in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Norton, February 2019.
Van Vechten, Renee B. California Politics a Primer. 5th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, January 2018.
Field, Mona. California Government and Politics Today. 15th ed. London: Pearson, 2018.
Donovan, Todd, Daniel A. Smith, Tracy Osborn, and Christopher Z. Mooney. State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform. 4th ed. London: Cengage, 2015.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading academic journal articles, news, and government agency reports.
B. Attending political functions.
C. Meeting with public officials, public servants, or candidates to conduct interviews.
D. Writing research papers of 2,000-2,500 words.


Political Science