This course explores the structure and interplay of the various institutions and sub-institutions of the American federal government, providing a cursory introduction to the ideas and institutions that shape politics in contemporary America. Our lectures will focus on three thematic areas: the Constitution: reach, scope, and interpretation, Modern American institutions, and the political behavior of a presumably engaged citizenry. We will study the strategies, roles, and limitations of both governmental elites and ordinary citizens, with particular emphasis on how they communicate and interact within the constitutional to shape the achievement of the “common good”. To a lesser extent, we will examine documents from America’s formative period and discuss insights from the modern discipline of political science. This will allow us to examine important social and political phenomena from a variety of perspectives. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to help each student arrive at a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape American government and politics, so that they may be both a more discerning student and critic of the system and a more informed and reflective participant in it. Note: This Course does not fulfill SAS Core Requirements.