Congress, the Constitution, and Contemporary Politics

November 11-13, 2016

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Congress, the Constitution, and Contemporary Politics explores the theoretical foundations of the legislative branch, from the representative bodies of ancient Rome and Greece, the creation of the American bicameral Congress at the Philadelphia Convention, the powers of Congress, and the expansion and change of congressional power over time.

With a growing partisan divide in today's Congress, we will explore questions of whether Congress is fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities of representing the people, deliberating issues, successfully legislating for the common good, and exercising its oversight of the executive. We will also pay particular attention to the institutional changes within the legislative branch, covering congressional elections and the role of the party and committee leadership. By the end of the course, you should have an informed opinion on whether congress is indeed the "broken branch" and whether further institutional reform is necessary.


Seminar Scholars

 Dr. Lauren C. Bell is Professor of Political Science and Dean of Academic Affairs at Randolph-Macon College. She holds a B.A. from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at The University of Oklahoma. She is a former American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and a former United States Supreme Court fellow at the United States Sentencing Commission in Washington, DC. She is the author of Filibustering in the U.S. Senate, Warring Factions: Interest Groups, Money, and the New Politics of Senate Confirmation, and The U.S. Congress, A Simulation for Students, as well as co-author of Perspectives on Political Communication: A Case Approach. Dr. Bell joined the faculty at Randolph-Macon in Fall 1999 and served as Associate Dean of the College from Fall 2007 until her appointment in 2014 as Dean of Academic Affairs.

Dr. Michael Crespin is the Associate Director of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at The University of Oklahoma and Associate Professor of Political Science. He earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2005 and served in the office of U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski as an APSA Congressional Fellow from 2005-06. He joined the University of Oklahoma in 2014 after serving on the faculty at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Georgia. Some of his work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Analysis, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Professor Crespin's research with co-authors has won the Harold Gosnell Prize for the best work in political methodology and the Patrick J. Fett Award for the best paper on the scientific study of Congress and the Presidency.