Your paper assignments for State and Local (Urban) Government stand in the place of traditional essay exams. While our numerous quizzes mimic multiple choice exams, they are largely to help develop a common vocabulary or set of concepts, and to identify gaps or weak areas of individual and collective learning, while also keeping everyone up on the reading assignments.
The papers, on the other hand, involve an integration of text and research, usually employing text concepts to guide, as well as to help you better understand the results of your research. They are the major source of assessing your learning as you demonstrate your understanding of the readings by applying lessons from them to the topic and state(s) you researched.
For the STATE INSTITUTIONS PAPER you should examine your state(s)’:Massachusetts
- Legislature(s): e.g., examples of policymaking, representing, or oversight;
and/or, important things about its “dynamics” (districts, apportionment,
redistricting, leadership, committees, etc.;
and/or the how a bill becomes a law; and/or reforms, past and present;
and/or relations with the executive branch (governor, bureaucracy oversight).
- Governor: regarding roles;
and/or formal powers;
and/or informal powers, capability, etc.
- The bureaucracy: regarding what work is done;
and/or budgeting; human resource policy; the politics of it; etc.
- The judiciary (courts) regarding its structure;
and/or how judges are chosen; decision making;
administration and organizational reform/improvements.
Essentially, you should be reading the assignments, and asking yourself: Is that interesting to me, or important to my state? If so, how do I find out what is true of my state? Then, find out!
As your syllabus notes: Each paper will be a minimum of 3 pages in length, typed, and with a works cited page. The KEY elements will be both the substance of your paper, AND the application/employment of text and course concepts in describing and analyzing your state(s).