Carnegie Mellon University

Decision Processes in American Political Institutions

Course Number: 84-104

This is an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of politics and government in the United States.  It familiarizes the student with the basic structures and processes of American government, but moves beyond the purely descriptive into the realm of the analytical.  The main theoretical tools are spatial models of political decision-making, and models of collective action problems.  The position taken in this course is that understanding American philosophical ideas about authority, power, and freedom is as central to demystifying the U.S. form of democracy as is understanding how decision-making institutions function.  Thus, on one side, this course looks at how American political thought is infused into political institutions and society.  On the other side, it investigates institutional arrangements using rationalistic theories.  In addition, scientific writings at the intersection of psychology and economics are used to probe the possibility of gaining explanatory leverage on U.S. politics from the perspective of behavioral decision-making theories.

Academic Year: 2019-2020
Semester(s): Fall
Required/Elective: Required
Units: 9
Location(s): Pittsburgh

Learning Objectives

Students will understand the complexity and design of American federal political institutions. Students will gain an appreciation for institutional design, process, and the structure of decision-making.

Fall 2019
Tuesday and Thursday
3:00-4:20PM

Required course for the following IPS degrees:
B.S. International Relations and Politics
Additional Major in International Relations and Politics
B.S. Economics and Politics
Additional Major in Economics and Politics
Minor in International Relations and Politics
Minor in Politics and Public Policy (one of three options)