POLS 375: California Politics


Dr. Michael S. Latner

Preferred  Email:  

 Twitter:  @mlatner

 Office Location: 47-11L

Office Phone: 756-2978

Office Hours: Varies by quarter

 Other times by appointment  

Class meeting time & location:
Varies by quarter, see Polylearn

Required Electronic Materials 

This course will use a large number of articles and excerpts that will be posted on the course Polylearn.

If you do not have access to a reliable printer, consider printing or making copies at the library (10 cents/page), in a campus computer lab, or at a local copy shop, or using the GoodNotes, or iAnnotate app for marking up PDFs on mobile devices. Note that this  course involves significant amounts of reading. Unless otherwise indicated, you are expected to complete all the readings. You are strongly encouraged to bring copies of all readings to class each day, as well as to take notes as you read. Stay on top of the assigned readings and any multimedia content. Read or view them in pieces if you are pressed for time. Do what works best for you to achieve high levels of comprehension and engagement with the course content. 

NOTE: Students who complete all required course readings will be positioned to do well in the course. Students who do not complete all assigned readings – for whatever reason – will not do well. Do not take this course if you do not plan to complete the assigned readings.


Assessment Due Value
Participation/Student Led Discussion Weekly 15%
Policy Challenge Brief Week 3 20%
Draft Legislative Analysis Week 6 15%

Final Legislative Analysis

Week 10 20%
Project Presentation Week 10 10%

Take Home Final Exam

Finals Week 20%
  TOTAL 100%

Course Content


Course Description

Political culture, processes, behavior, institutions, public policy and distribution of power in California state and substate governments. 4 lectures.

Students will demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of the political science discipline; its principal theoretical frameworks and applications, conceptual vocabulary, and methods of inquiry; its major subfields of study; and its interrelationships with the other social science fields.
  2. Understanding of basic facts and concepts about the California political system, including its history, philosophical, constitutional and legal foundations, leading political values and ideas, governing institutions, and policymaking processes.
  3. Recognition of the major problems, the leading policies, and the legal issues confronting contemporary political systems, particularly in the U.S.
  4. Citizenship skills, ethical values, and the ability to understand and appreciate human diversity; and to engage in community life as active citizens.
  5. Understanding of political science research and analytical skills, including the ability to think critically; to construct logical arguments; to collect, analyze, and interpret evidence and data; and to formulate reasoned conclusions.
  6. Development of writing skills through research papers, essay exams, senior projects in political science topics, and collaborative research/writing opportunities.

Course Communications

Polylearn: Polylearn will be used as our primary course web site. This site will house the course syllabus, schedule, electronic readings, and online activities. You will also submit assignments through this site, access your grades, and participate in class discussions. Make it a habit to regularly visit the Polylearn course site. All announcements will be posted to this site. You are responsible for timely receipt of announcements.

email: You must have a Cal Poly User name for this course. This address is necessary to receive course email and to log onto the electronic Polylearn system. If you wish to use AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., as your primary email address instead of your Cal Poly email account to, log into http://my.calpoly.edu and use the Personal Information channel to change your Email Delivery Address. When you email me, please include POLS 375 in the subject line.

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