Harper College logo

PSC220: State and Local Government in the United States

Course Prefix

Course Number

Course Title


Credit Hours



State and Local Government in the United States



Course Description

Examines state and local governments including their powers, organization, functions, development, politics, and contemporary issues/problems.

Topical Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. State Government
    1. State Constitutions
    2. Federalism
    3. State Elections and Politics 
    4. State Political Parties
    5. State Legislature 
    6. Governors
  3. Local Government
    1. Community Political Systems
    2. Urban Government
    3. Suburban Government
    4. County and Special District Governments
  4. Issues
    1. Taxation
    2. Education
    3. Economic Development
    4. Homeland Security

Method of Presentation

  1. Lectures
  2. Small group discussions
  3. Individual or group projects
  4. Oral reports 
  5. Debates
  6. Outside speakers (state and local officials) 
  7. Films and videotapes

Student Outcomes (The student should…)

  1. define and identify federalism and intergovernmental relations; provide examples of each.
  2. identify the major components of state constitutions.
  3. explain and analyze the different types of state and local elections, the role and structures of the Democratic, Republican, and Third parties, and the dynamics of state and local governments’ successful political campaigns.
  4. identify, explain, and analyze the power dynamics and interrelationships among governors, state legislatures, and state courts.
  5. identify, explain, and analyze the government structures and politics of local governments. 
  6. identify the different types of taxes and the role of budget-making as policy-making. 
  7. explain and analyze various issues in public personnel management such as affirmative action, collective bargaining, and privatization.
  8. explain and analyze the politics of education policy and state/local government economic development.

Method of Evaluation

  1. Two exams
  2. Field study paper (7-9 pages in length) or other project on state or local government or state/local government elections


Bowman, Ann & Kearney, Richard, State and Local Government, 6th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Dushkin, State and Local Government, 12th edition, Dushkin Publishing, 2005.

Prepared by: Bobby Summers

Fall, 2008