Washington Center

A Biden-Harris Presidency : Understanding Executive Power in Historical and Contemporary Context

Term or Semester: 
Day and Time: 
Thursdays, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. PT
Quarter Dates: 
March 25 - June 3, 2021
Core Seminar

Most of us have been inundated with elections and politics for the past year. Many Americans can name several presidents and even have opinions on “good” versus “bad” presidents. But what do they actually do and how do we measure and evaluate their performance and our expectations for their leadership? What can we expect during the next four years 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. 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, especially at a time when we transition from one administration to another.

Disclaimer: We will deal with real world issues of today. Our discussions will reflect these parameters and engage in some controversial topics. This is an important part of our course, and you should be prepared to understand the politics of the situation separated from your own views.

Remote Syllabus

About the Instructor: 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.

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