POLS 103 - State and Local Government and Politics (GT-SS1)

  • 3 credits

Welcome to State and Local Government and Politics!

This course is designed to provide you with a general understanding of state and local government. You will gain an understanding of the role of states in the American political system, how state and local governments interact including the political actors, and the role of institutions that influence their behavior in state and local policymaking. Major themes that we will explore while examining state and local institutions and functions include the influence of power, money and other contemporary issues such as environmental disaster that pose challenges for state and local governments.

Because decisions made at the state and local level tend to have a more direct impact on our daily lives, learning objectives for this course are designed to help us understand how state and local issues affect us, and gain a better understanding of how we can influence state and local politics.

Objectives for this course are first, to gain a better understanding of how state and local governments work and the unique challenges they face. Our second goal is to apply this knowledge to current issues facing state and local governments. We will accomplish these goals through doing the assigned readings, through working through the course modules, and by participating in class discussions. Additionally, this knowledge will be applied through the completion of weekly discussion boards, weekly assignments and five short writing assignments that will help you be able to write, analyze and critically discuss state and local politics.

Organization of content: There will be 16 modules total, one for each week of class material. Modules will be comprised of readings, videos, learning activities and graded assignments. Students should proceed by completing all the in tasks in any given module each week before moving to the next module. If students complete a module early, they may work one module ahead but not more than that.

This course meets the All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC) requirements for Social/Behavioral Sciences (Category 3C) and is approved under gtPathways in the content area of Economic or Political Systems (GT-SS1).

This course can be applied towards:

Textbook and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Governing States and Localities: The Essentials, 5th Ed. (2015)
    Smith, Kevin B. and Greenblatt, Alan
    ISBN: 978-1483308111


Megan Demasters


Megan is currently a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Political Science. She graduated from Idaho State University in 2010 with a B.A. in international studies and from the University of Utah in 2012 with a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in natural resources management. While at the University of Utah, Megan was the recycling program analyst for Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District. Megan’s research interests include environmental policy with an emphasis in water quality and water scarcity concerns at the local, state, and federal levels. Within this area she is interested in intergovernmental relations, implementation, and policy outcomes. Megan’s recent publications include “Ensuring Compliance with Interstate Water Compacts at the State and Local Levels: A Case Study of the Arkansas River Compact” - Environmental Practice and “Working with Federal and State Actors on Successful Implementation of Sustainable Economic Development Programs”- PA Times. Megan was also the 2015 winner of the “Best Student Paper” awarded by the APSA Section on Environmental and Natural Resource Administration (SENRA).