University of California, Santa Barbara

Political Science 155: Congress

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This is a course on the U.S. Congress. This course is designed to be a total "immersion" into the legislative process, particularly the U.S. House of Representatives. Each house of Congress has formal and informal hierarchies of influence, norms, expectations for behavior, complicated rules, and traditions. These factors affect the goals of individual members of Congress and how members act to achieve their goals. At the same time, the legislature is part of a larger political system. Members work in the context of constituent desires, interest group activity, the presidency, the bureaucracy, the mass media, and electoral politics. The goal of this class is to learn how this congressional system works by looking at it from the inside.

The core of Political Science 155/155L (the lab is required) is a simulation of the U.S. House of Representatives, called SIMCONG. In SIMCONG, students act as legislators, the president and his or her advisors, lobbyists, and journalists.

The legislators play the roles of real members of Congress and represent their districts in a legislative situation. The partisan and ideological balance and the regional distribution of SIMCONG representatives, as well as the rules and procedures regulating the flow of legislation, are as authentic as possible. A separate committee of students acts as the president and his or her advisors. They are responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive presidential program. Three groups of lobbyists--representing labor and the left, business and the right, and environmental and consumer groups--develop their respective legislative programs and attempt to gain their passage. A committee of journalists publishes the SIMCONG newspaper and helps transmit information, formally and informally, among players. Communication will also be aided by a set of mailboxes and by the use of electronic mail, which is required.

To learn more about Political Science 155 or to see some useful links related to the course, click on the links below:

Those of you who are interested in being interns in Washington D.C. or Sacramento should also check out the UC Washington Program and the UC Sacramento Program. These programs offer UCSB juniors and seniors opportunities to intern in Congress, in the White House, in the State Legislature, in interest groups, in government agencies, and in hundreds of other political and cultural institutions and organizations in and around Washington, D.C. and Sacramento.

  The UC Washington Center Program

  The UC Sacramento Center Program

For more information about Political Science 155, contact:

Prof. Eric Smith
Department Political Science
3711 Ellison Hall
Phone: (805) 893-6160; Fax: (805) 893-3309
Pronouns: He/him/his

University of California, Santa Barbara