Junior Seminar: The Obama Presidency in Historical Perspective

Course Description: 

On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was reelected president of the United States. This class examines Obama’s first four years in office through a historical perspective.   How can we use history to understand Obama’s leadership challenges?   Why have Obama’s first four years disappointed many on the left while failing to win meaningful Republican support?   Is it that the expectations facing the modern presidency are simply unrealistic?   Is it that he is not a skilled communicator? Is it that he is too soft, and doesn’t know how to fight for what he believes? Is it that he faced a recalcitrant Congress and polarized parties? Is it that he lacks the political authority to make deep, meaningful policy change? Alternatively, when judged against historical precedents, has Obama made more substantive progress than his critics give him credit for?     We will answer these questions by comparing Obama’s leadership dilemmas to a small group of past presidents:   Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

The Junior Seminars are intense writing seminars which focus on the research area of the faculty member teaching the course. The seminars provide an opportunity for students to have direct intellectual interactions with faculty members while also giving the students an understanding for faculty research.

This junior seminar falls within the \\\\\\"American Politics\\\\\\" subfield, and can fulfill an upper division requirement for the major.


Political Science Majors of Junior and Senior status, with a minimum overall UC GPA of 3.3. Students must place themselves on the waitlist through TeleBEARS in Phase II. Selection and notification will occur around January 14, 2013.   Priority may be given to students who have not yet taken a junior seminar.