American Foundations 101

Description

American Foundations is a course designed to encourage students to explore the major historical, political, economic, and cultural themes in American life, coupled with the insights of the restored gospel and teachings of the living prophets. To ensure a common experience for all students and to encourage student discussions of the themes across campus, the American Foundations committee has developed a common teaching schedule and a list of twelve topics with outcomes to be covered in all sections of the class. Based on the assumptions of the BYU-Idaho Learning Model, students are expected to prepare for each class by reading background information, considering case studies, or watching videos. Then, students should come to class prepared to teach each other what they have learned and be able to prove their learning experience by applying what they have learned to other events and circumstances in the American experience or to situations they face in their own life.

Outcomes

  1. Students will learn the basic principles of politics, government, and economics “in the tradition of the founding fathers,” upon which the American experience was founded.
  2. Students will prepare to become both good citizens and members of the church. They will recognize their responsibility “to be full participants in political, governmental, and community affairs,” to understand that they “are under special obligations to seek out and then uphold those leaders who are wise, good, and honest,” and to follow the First Presidency’s counsel that members of the church “be willing to serve on school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and other high offices of either election or appointment, including involvement in the political party of their choice” (The First Presidency, 1998).
  3. Students will be able to explain how the following phrases from Church tradition are related to and inform the basic principles of the American experience: “inspired Constitution,” “choice land,” and “the law will go forth from Zion.”
  4. Students will engage with the writings of prominent economic, political, and cultural thinkers, and evaluate them in terms of the gospel and the insights gleaned from the words of the modern church leaders.
  5. Students will develop critical thinking skills as they consider why American social, political, cultural, and economic systems developed, the alternatives to those systems, what the strengths and weaknesses of past and present systems are, and how this information helps them to better formulate and promote future policy.
  6. This course will provide students with the tools to become informed, active participants in the American experience and be able to defend the foundational principles against forces that would erode and destroy them.

Required Materials

There is no assigned text for this course, but there will be a significant reading and preparation requirement. The reading material for this course will be provided online via Canvas. You should plan to access Canvas as early as possible and become familiar with the way the system works. Any questions regarding difficulties with the online system should be directed to the Computer Help Desk on campus at (208)496-3550. Questions concerning class content should be directed to your instructor.

It is important that you read, study, and understand the material provided for the class. Much of the material is thought-provoking if read with the intent to understand. The material has been carefully selected so that it presents ideas important to your study. If you prepare the assigned materials before you come to class, you will be better prepared to participate in class discussions.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1

Introduction

Week 2

Course Overview

Week 3

Independence and Revolution

Week 4

Constitutional Development (1781–1789)

Week 5

Constitutional Application (1781–1789)

Week 6

Religion in America, Government Under the Constitution, and the Civil War

Week 7

American Economic Development and Industrialization

Week 8

Market Challenges I

Week 9

Market Challenges II: The Great Depression

Week 10

Inclusion and Exclusion

Week 11

American Politics

Week 12

America's Spirit of Change and Reform

Week 13

America in the World

Week 14

Conclusion

Exams

There will be a pretest and posttest at the beginning and end of the semester, respectively, to assess the level of students’ learning in the course. Only the posttest, or final exam, will count towards your grade. There will be a bi-weekly exam covering the reading materials from the weekly study.

Grading Scale

Percentage Range Letter Grade
93–100% A
90–92% A-
87–89% B+
83–86% B
80–82% B-
77–79% C+
73–76% C
70–72% C-
67–69% D+
63–66% D
60–63% D-
Below 60% F

Each activity is given a score and the final percent is the percent of total possible points. The score will tell you how much that activity is weighted. Here are some examples:

Activity

Point Value

Number of Assignments

Total

Syllabus Quiz

10

1

10

Discussions

15

2

30

Exams

100

6

600

Peer Assessments (by Group Leader)

10

10

100

Group Discussion Activities

20

10

200

Essays

20

5

100

Accountability Quizzes

6

12

72

Pretest

0

1

0

Mid-Course Feedback

1

1

1

Evaluations

1

12

12

Final Exam

100

1

100

Canvas Profile Setup

To help your instructor and peers recognize you, please add a picture of yourself to your Canvas profile. To do this, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on "Account" in the upper left-hand corner.
  2. Click "Profile."
  3. Click the blank profile picture.
  4. Click "choose a picture," then find an image of yourself you want and click "Save."