Washington Center

Polarizer-in-Chief: Presidential Leadership in the 21st Century

Day and Time: 
Thursdays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Quarter Dates: 
September 21 - November 30, 2023
Semester Dates: 
August 23 - November 30, 2023
Core Seminar

Many Americans can name several presidents and even have opinions on “good” versus “bad” presidents. But what do presidents actually do, what resources and limitations do they have in their ability to act, and how do we measure their performance and our expectations for their leadership? With a divided Congress and record polarization, what can we expect during the next year and a half of a Biden/Harris administration? This course will put the modern presidency in historical and theoretical context, drawing on a variety of readings and approaches to determine which framework best explains presidential (in)action. At its core, this class is about the question of executive power in democratic government and how we understand what we see happening just down the street from the UC Washington Center. In addition to studying and reflecting on the theme of presidential power, we will also consider the limits to this power and how presidents achieve their goals. Ultimately, we aim to understand the work of the presidency and some of the different perspectives by which we might analyze or assess presidents and their administrations. 

About the Professor: I am a Ph.D. of American government and politics with specializations in the American presidency, public policy, and polarization. My research focuses on presidential governance via executive orders and how political factors influence the ability of presidents to issue their most significant orders. I have taught UCDC’s presidency seminar since Fall 2017. While earning my degree at the University of Maryland, I taught classes about public policy and Congress to students who had internships related to those fields in a format similar to the UCDC program. Outside of the classroom, I work at Community Change & Community Change Action, non-profit organizations focused on building a movement led by everyday people to create change in their communities and across the country. As the Electoral Data Manager, I work with many different teams and partner organizations to identify target audiences and track the work we are doing in communities affected by injustice.

Requirement for ALL semester students:

The first four weeks of this semester (August 23 to September 13) will be spent in a special topics module taught by Professor Marc Sandalow on Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30p.m. This module will account for 15% of the core seminar final course grade. Please contact Professor Sandalow (marc.sandalow@ucdc.edu) with questions.

Your selected seminar will begin the week of September 18 and your seminar instructor will officially be your instructor of record for the term, responsible for computing and submitting final course grades at the end of the term.

**NO additional registration required.

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