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

  • 3 credits
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Welcome to State and Local Government and Politics!

State and local governments are vital components of the American political system. While the activities of national-level actors, such as the president and Congress, tend to be most visible to the average citizen (especially through the news media), actors at the state and local level frequently make political decisions that impact our daily lives. In addition, states and localities often experiment with innovative policies in an attempt to address social, economic, and environmental problems. Given the importance of states and localities in American politics, this course is designed to provide you with an understanding of the structure, functions, and responsibilities of state and local governments. We will explore the impacts of decisions made at the state and local level, compare and contrast policies across various states and localities, and learn about how these levels of government function and interact with each other. We will also apply our knowledge of state and local politics to current issues, such as economic development, criminal justice, and budgeting.

Through readings, lectures, group discussions, and assignments, you will be able to achieve four primary learning outcomes during this course. First, you will gain a broader and deeper understanding of how state and local governments work and what their responsibilities are and, secondly, will understand the unique challenges that state and local governments face. Third, we will analyze the role of state and local actors in solving pressing contemporary problems, such as economic issues and environmental concerns. Lastly, we will discuss how the actions of state and local governments impact our daily lives.

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).

Textbooks and Materials

Section 801


  • Governing States and Localities, 9th Ed. (2024)
    Kevin B. Smith and Alan Greenblatt
    ISBN: 9781071901830

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


Morgann Means

Morgann Means received her PhD in 2023 from Colorado State University. Her current research focuses on sustainable cities in the U.S. with an emphasis on analyzing the role of citizen participation in sustainable communities, as well as the impact of natural disaster vulnerability on cities' economic and environmental policy decisions. Dr. Means is passionate about teaching a variety of Political Science courses. She enjoys helping her students develop a deep understanding of current political issues and the real-world implications of policy decisions being made at each level of government.