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 8 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).

Textbooks and Materials

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


  • Governing States and Localities, 6th Ed. (2017)
    Smith, Kevin B. & Greenblatt, Alan
    ISBN: 978-1506360263


Morgann Means


Morgann Means is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Colorado State University. Morgann’s research interests focus on municipal sustainability with a particular emphasis on explaining why there is variance in how sustainability is defined among U.S. cities. Her research also explores the role of citizen participation, as well as the impact of natural and industrial disasters, on sustainability policy at the local level.