American Government


  2. A. Course Title: American Government
    B. Course Number: GO 213 - 10051
    C. Semester: Spring 2019
    D. Days/Time: T Th 9:30:00 AM - 10:45:00 AM
    E. Credit Hours: 3
    F. Instructor: Ollinger Riefstahl, Alison
    G. Office: Mansur Hall (MH) 129E
    H. Email Address:
    I. Office Phone: (575) 492-2814
    J. Office Hours: Monday: 8:30:00 AM-9:00:00 AM (MST); 10:00:00 AM-11:00:00 AM (MST); 12:00:00 PM-12:30:00 PM (MST);
    Tuesday: 8:30:00 AM-9:30:00 AM (MST); 11:00:00 AM-12:30:00 PM (MST);
    Wednesday: 8:30:00 AM-9:00:00 AM (MST); 10:00:00 AM-11:00:00 AM (MST); 12:00:00 PM-12:30:00 PM (MST);
    Thursday: 8:30:00 AM-9:30:00 AM (MST); 11:00:00 AM-12:30:00 PM (MST);
    Friday: 8:30:00 AM-9:00:00 AM (MST); 10:00:00 AM-11:00:00 AM (MST);
    I am also available by appointment. If these days and times do not work for you, please contact me to set up a time that does.
    K. Time Zone: Mountain Time
    L. Prerequisite(s): None
    M. Corequisite(s): None
    N. Class Location: MH121

    This course examines the philosophic background of the Constitutional Convention, the legal and constitutional structure of the national government, and the relationships existing between the formal and informal groups seeking to make claim on or through the government. This is a three credit hour course.


    This course is considered a breadth course and fulfills a part of the general education requirement at New Mexico Junior College. It will enable students to understand the “power” behind those who serve in government and how individuals can interact with government to ensure their interests are best served.

    This course is a general education course with transfer-ability to New Mexico schools, but it is always advisable to check with the receiving four-year school.



    McGraw-Hill Text: AM GOV (this is the title)

    Losco & Baker- Am Gov authors

    Loose Leaf ISBN - AM GOV 2017-2018 (Loose Leaf)

    5th edition: 978-1259444937

    All other materials will be provided by instructor.


    All other materials provided by instructor

    You can buy your books online at the NMJC Bookstore.


    Students attending New Mexico Junior College will be evaluated according to the following grading scale:

    						90 - 100%	=	A
    						80 -  89%	=	B
    						70 -  79%	=	C
    						60 -  69%	=	D
    					 	 0 -  59%	=	F

    This class will be a mixture of video, lecture, presentations, discussion, and related activities. Each week we will complete the chapters as detailed in the Course Outline. For each chapter there is a module in CANVAS with the assigned materials and assessments as required. Grading is based on the following components:

    Assignments = 30 %
    Quizzes = 20%
    Essays = 30%
    Exams = 20%

    It should be remembered that I can only evaluate you on what you submit to the class. I do not GIVE grades - you EARN them. You have the responsibility for your grade in your hands; I am the facilitator for your educational experience - but you are the driving force.

    Please note that I will NOT discuss grades over email, you must make an appointment to see me or stop by for office hours to discuss grading and assessments. If my office hours are not conducive to your schedule please make an appointment with me for a time that is convenient. I am very flexible and willing to meet with you outside of my posted office hours.

    All assignments, activities, quizzes and essays are created with the understanding that you will have access to the book when you are completing and submitting work in Canvas. Therefore, everything in this class is an “open-book” exercise. However, because of that understanding, your assessments will go beyond the basic comprehension and identification questions, and will present complex questions that require equally complex explanations and evidence such as in-text citations (AMGOV pg.123) for ALL written work.

    I know that although I will have due dates assigned in the course that there will be times students for various reasons may have difficulty meeting those deadlines. I will accept your work late under the following conditions: within 24 hours there will be no late penalty assigned, so please just submit your assignment as soon as you can to the due date. If an assignment is submitted more than 48 hours late, but within a week of the original due date, it will automatically have 20% deducted - immediately taken off the top BEFORE it is graded. This is my late policy unless you have made prior arrangements with me regarding your absence or extenuating circumstances can be verified.

    Attendance: There is no attendance policy. Showing up every day is the expectation, it is not an activity which earns you points. You will be expected to sign-in and attend each class. If excessive absences (over 5) are noted for a student, it is the right of the instructor to drop the student from the class. HOWEVER - attendance records may be used to justify rounding up or down on an assignment on a case by case basis.

    All quizzes and essays are created with the understanding that you will have access to the book when you are completing work in Canvas. Therefore, everything in this class is an “open-book” exercise. However, because of that understanding, your assessments will go beyond the basic comprehension and identification questions, and will present complex questions that require equally complex explanations and evidence.

    Outside Readings and Videos for Discussion Boards, Reflection Papers, and activities:
    In this course we will read several outside articles and documents related to the chapters as assigned. For some, you will be asked to post to a Discussion Board forum or write a reflection paper, or complete an activity as part of your weekly work.

    In addition to reading outside selections that highlight topics and events in history, you will also view video clips and movies, both inside and outside of class. These will be available on Canvas under each Module as assigned along with all other readings, documents, rubrics, and links. Instructions, rubrics, and supporting documents will be provided under Modules as these are assigned.

    Discussion Boards will require you to post your own thread which needs to be substantive and academic in tone and vocabulary, and to then reply to five other posts written by your classmates. You also need to follow the rules of common courtesy and reply to those who post to your thread (what I call housekeeping your thread). You should follow the rules of common courtesy and polite conversation, calling others by name and referencing their point before you make your own.


    Quizzes will be assigned and available through the chapter Modules on Canvas. You will have at least 3-7 days to complete a quiz, but they are timed and you only have one attempt to complete and submit the quiz.You may be required to download and use the Respondus Lockdown Browser for these quizzes or to go to the Testing Center for a proctored exam as assigned. Please see the instructions in Canvas for RLB.

    Quizzes can be taken with your book and notes available, but time will not allow you to attempt this without reading the chapter or familiarizing yourself with the material beforehand. A quiz may contain multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and/or essay questions. All answers should be in complete sentences and proper grammar as instructed. These types of assessments will be timed and monitored. If any Academic Dishonesty is suspected it will be investigated and referred to the Administration (please see the NMJC Academic Honesty policy).

    Essays will also be assigned and submitted through Canvas as assigned. You may be required to utilize TurnItIn or another program for plagiarism checks and assessment. Instructions will be provided in Modules as assigned. The goal of the essays assigned is to learn how to write a short essay, a long essay, and to do a Document Based Question that integrates primary and secondary sources into the answer.

    Movie Review Essays:

    We will watch several movies and write a critical analysis/review essays of each of them for class. I do not want a synopsis of the movie, I want you to pay attention to things like the style, the message, portrayals of stereotypes, and how these elements might reflect or contradict the things we have been studying in class or how it highlights things we may not have looked at. You will be given a handout with questions and topics to cover in the reviews. This should not be a taxing exercise, but one in which you will critically review an artistic work and see how it relates to American history and how we view that period or event in our contemporary culture. What do these films tell us about our history, our government, our citizenship and how do they inspire us?

    This is a web-enhanced course, meaning that we utilize traditional classroom time and also assign assessments through our class Canvas site.
    Canvas is the learning management system and is where most of information that you need to be successful in this course "lives". You must learn to check Canvas each day for messages, announcements, changes to our schedule, and to contact me about class.

    Class Format, Netiquette, and Communication:

    I will be lecturing for part of the class, which will support the text. The class will also consist of question and answer and discussion periods. Please come to class prepared to discuss the current chapter and the additional readings for assigned for reflection and discussion. It is not possible to cover all the assigned material in class. You are responsible for the assigned material not covered, YOU MUST READ YOUR TEXTBOOK and expected to be able to discuss all material assigned.

    As many of our assignments will be completed via computer and the internet, it is important you understand the proper internet/online etiquette standards of our coursework. You need to put your professional and academic self forward at all times, however this doesn't mean we cannot have a good time and a humorous tone.


    For ALL collaborative communication please follow the basic guidelines below:
    • Use descriptive subject lines to make threads easy to follow and scan.
    • Keep posts to the correct format for length and content.
    • Back up your statements when you agree or disagree with others.
    • Use professional language, including proper grammar, in academic-related posts. No slang, emoticons, or chat acronyms allowed.
    • Use attachments or links to websites for long, detailed information.
    • Stay on topic or start a new thread if it is allowed.
    • Be respectful of others’ opinions and remember the golden rule—to treat others as you want to be treated, EVEN WHEN WE DISAGREE.


    New Mexico Junior College’s institutional student learning outcomes represent the knowledge and abilities developed by students attending New Mexico Junior College. Upon completion students should achieve the following learning outcomes along with specific curriculum outcomes for respective areas of study:


    New Mexico Junior College's Social/Behavioral Sciences Department endorses the Core Competencies as established by the State of New Mexico. Within our respective fields, as appropriate, students should:

    A. Identify, describe, and explain human behaviors and how they are influenced by social structures, institutions, and processes within the contexts of complex and diverse communities.

    B. Articulate how beliefs, assumptions, and values are influenced by factors such as politics, geography, economics, culture, biology, history, and social institutions.

    C. Describe ongoing reciprocal interactions among self, society, and the environment.

    D. Apply the knowledge base of the social and behavioral sciences to identify, describe, explain, and critically evaluate relevant issues, ethical dilemmas, and arguments.

    Selected Specific Competencies will be used to demonstrate mastery of the above.


    New Mexico Junior College's Humanities Department uses the Core Competencies established by the Higher Education Department in the State of New Mexico.

    After completing this course the student should be able to:

    1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic political institutions in American politics.

    2. Analyze contemporary problems in the political system and potential institutional improvements to help the U.S. closer approximate the ideals of democracy.

    3. Identify the evolution of institutions in the U.S. system through the lens of expanding democratic ideals.


    Additional Assignment details will be posted in Canvas, along with all Rubrics used for assessment.


    I reserve the right to edit this syllabus at any time, or to make changes to the class format if adjustments need to be made. If made, these changes will be communicated in writing using the CANVAS system.

    I will not tolerate cheating, plagiarism, disrespect of anyone in this class, and consider these to be grave offenses.

    I am always available for outside help or instruction, and I hope you will find me to be a very tolerant and fair person, albeit one with a dry sense of humor. This is a learning experience for us all, and it is my hope that we can make it an enjoyable one. I look forward to the semester - and hope you do as well.


    Students will be held responsible for the information on these pages.

    Academic Honesty
    Each student is expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in online academic and professional matters. The College reserves the right to take disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, against any student who is found guilty of academic dishonesty or otherwise fails to meet these standards. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, dishonesty in quizzes, tests, or assignments; claiming credit for work not done or done by others; and nondisclosure or misrepresentation in filling out applications or other College records. Cheating or gaining illegal information for any type of graded work is considered dishonest and will be dealt with accordingly.

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information
    Any student requiring special accommodations should contact the Special Needs Student Services Coordinator at (575) 492-2576 or by e-mail at

    Attendance Policy
    Attendance is required at every session of each course for which the student is enrolled. When unavoidable circumstances make attendance impossible, students must provide a satisfactory explanation of their absences to their professors. College-sponsored activities are considered excused absences and the appropriate sponsor of those students who will be absent from class will notify professors. Students having absences due to college-sponsored activities will need to make arrangements with the affected classes / professor to take care of required work; however, arrangements for make-ups should be made within a reasonable time frame, usually within one week of the absence. Regarding make-up work, absences due to late registration are considered the same as regular absences.

    Cell Phones/Pagers
    All cell phones and pagers must be turned off when the student is participating in any lecture, laboratory, or other learning activity.

    Classroom Conduct
    The professor is responsible for maintaining a class environment best suited for effective learning. By registering for this class, the student is assumed to have entered into an agreement with New Mexico Junior College and the professor to attend the class regularly and to behave in an appropriate manner at all times. Disruptive behavior may result in the student being removed from the class.

    Food and Drink Policy
    Food items and soft drinks may not be consumed in NMJC classrooms. Students are also discouraged from bringing food and drink items into the classroom even though these items remain in sealed packaging. Bottled water is permissible.

    No Children in the Classroom
    In order to adhere to instructional procedures as well as maintain the safety of children, NMJC’s policy of no children in the classrooms (lecture, lab, etc.) will be followed.

    Offering the work of another as one’s own, without proper acknowledgment, is plagiarism; therefore, any student who fails to give credit for quotations or essentially identical expression of material taken from books, encyclopedias, magazines and other reference works, or from the themes, reports, or other writings of a fellow student, is guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism violates the academic honesty policy and is considered cheating.

    Smoking/Use of Tobacco
    New Mexico Junior College is cognizant of the health hazards associated with smoking / use of tobacco for the smoker, as well as the non-smoker. In an effort to provide a healthy environment for students, employees, and others who may frequent the campus, NMJC prohibits smoking / use of tobacco inside any campus building or facility.

    Tutoring Assistance
    Free tutoring services are available to all NMJC students through Brainfuse and the Academic Success Center located at the Pannell Library on the 1st floor.

    Withdrawal Policy
    Regular, punctual attendance is required for all classes at NMJC. Although the professor has the right to drop any student who has missed the equivalent of 2 weeks of instruction (based on a 16 week semester) whether it’s a face to face, online, or a hybrid course, it is not guaranteed that the professor will drop the student. If the student chooses to stop attending a class, he/she should withdraw from the class by accessing your student account in the T-Bird Web Portal at, or submitting the required paperwork to the Registrar’s Office by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. All students are encouraged to discuss their class status with the professor prior to withdrawing from the class.


    Class Schedule/Calendar – Tentative and Subject to Change

    Week One:
    Introduction to Course
    Quotes Discussion
    America is not the greatest country in the world video

    Week Two:
    CH 1 – read and quiz
    Crash Course Series Introduction and Reflection
    Civic Engagement Quiz and Reflection

    Week Three:
    CH 2 – Read and quiz
    Crash Course videos
    Declaration and What Do You Declare? (paper and discussion board)

    Week Four:
    CH 3 – read and quiz
    Articles on Federalism and articles quiz
    Federalist Papers Debate/Discussion

    Week Four –
    Hurricane Katrina Movie and Analysis Paper
    CH 4 – read and quiz
    Crash Course videos – Civil Liberties
    First Amendment Freedoms and Challenges - videos, articles, discussion

    Week Five –
    CH 5 – quiz and read
    Crash Course videos and reflection
    ACLU Court Case Analysis

    Week Six -
    Jim Crow Museum Tour and Reflection
    Emmett Till movie and analysis paper
    Beyond Emmett Till- MLK, Malcom X, Newton ARD (Analysis, Research, Discussion)

    Week Seven –
    CH 6 – read and quiz
    Political Ideology Quizzes and Reflection
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Eight -
    CH 7 – read and quiz
    Citizens United readings and Response
    Unprecedented: The Election of 2000 movie analysis paper
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Nine -
    CH 8 – read and quiz
    Best Democracy $$ can Buy – video and reflection
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Ten -
    CH 9 read and quiz
    Crash Course videos and Reflection
    Political Party Platform exercise/discussion
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Eleven -
    CH 10 read and quiz
    Crash Course and Internet Trolling/Bullying case
    “Fake News” Discussion
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Twelve -
    CH 11 read and quiz
    Crash Course videos and reflection - Congress
    Mock Election & Candidate Profile
    Ralph Nader Reader

    Week Thirteen -
    CH 12 read and quiz
    Crash Course videos and reflection - President
    Presidential Portrait/Bio ARD (Analysis, Research, Discussion)

    Week Fourteen -
    CH 14 – read and quiz
    Crash Course Videos and Reflection
    Supreme Court and the “most supreme decisions”
    Supreme Court Case ARD(Analysis, Research, Discussion)

    Week Fifteen -
    Movie Analysis - Charlie Wilson's War
    Howard Zinn - A People's History of the United States

    Week Sixteen -
    An Unreasonable Man
    This I Believe
    Citizenship Exam

    *This schedule is tentative and may be subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. Any and all changes will be communicated to the students via the Canvas system*