Intro to American Government

In the Fall of 2020 I designed and prepared a course for Cayuga Community College via the Cornell Prison Education Program.

Introductory courses in American politics begin with brief, pat histories of the founding, and only incorporate contemporary political divides at the end of the semester (if at all). Those approaches solidify “what the framers intended,” and thus present contemporary inequality and dysfunction as pre-ordained.

By emphasizing how political institutions, public opinion, and political behavior emerged out of the collision of material, racial, and gendered interests of political elites, my course emphasizes the political, rather than natural, origins of American inequality. My approach is both innovative, and more importantly, politically essential, given that a classroom of incarcerated students is more subject to the control of the American state than any other.

The course incorporates historical documents, classics of political science, and the most recent research on the topics considered. Special attention is paid throughout to how American hierarchy is constructed through each domain of American politics.

Course materials

You can find a syllabus for this class here.

Colin Cepuran Written by:

Colin Cepuran is a political scientist and a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University.