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Course: Political Behavior and Perception

Course:  Political Behavior and Perception
University of Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (1) Provide instruction in academic disciplines through the lens of government, history, law, and democracy.
  • (2) Incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives.


This senior level political science course aims to involve students in examining the current state of citizenship in America, as well as reasons behind its development.  The course examines theories involving individual choice and resources, community organizations, interest group activities, and social movements.  Students discuss social capital, political and economic equality, successful efforts to increase voting, and projects that involve people across religious, racial, and class lines.

By using a seminar format in which groups of two students co-lead the class several times, students learn how to be engaged and active teachers and learners.  Students conduct research and present this to the group.  One option for the research paper is to analyze an experience of civic involvement, and to place it in the context of scholarly literature on such activity.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic knowledge:  Grasp and appreciate history and the fundamental processes of American democracy; recognize the variety of characteristics and actions of effective, participating citizens; know about community affairs, political issues, and the processes by which citizens effect change.
  • Civic Skills: Process and evaluate information for objectivity, accuracy, and point of view; apply information to effective efforts to help solve social problems; use critical-thinking and ethical reasoning to make informed and responsible decisions; use verbal and written communication skills to convey ideas, facts, and opinions effectively; work cooperatively with others and develop effective team-building practices.
  • Civic Attitudes: Developing respect, tolerance, and understanding for differences and commonalities of participants in U.S. public life; developing the capacity to be engaged and active in civic and political action, and to base such activity on good thinking and ethical choices.

Contact Information

Dr. Amy Fried

Associate Professor of Political Science

The University of Maine

113 A North Stevens Hall

Orono ME 04469

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy