Political Culture What it means to be an American Discussion

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Discussion Expectations

Follow the Three-Step Plan and Student Checklist to participate fully in the discussion forum.


Step 1: Read the Discussion 1 Overview Below

Last week we looked at the way the American political culture influenced the America system of government. This week we will discuss the way the American political culture defines what it means to be an American, the challenges as well as opportunities that arise and how these beliefs affect public policy.

What makes someone French or Chinese, or defines them as a Turk or a Russian? It’s common ancestry. They share land and a bloodline that goes back centuries. Americans are different. They don’t have a common bloodline. They come from every corner of the globe– England, Mexico, Ireland, India, Vietnam, Africa, Germany, you name it.

American's National Origins.png

Step 2: Create a new thread and answer all three parts of the initial prompt below: (200+ words)

Please review video lecture above and include the arguments and examples in your answers to the following questions:

1) In the absence of a shared ancestry, what is Americans’ common bond? What do they share besides the fact they live in the same country? What ideals are central to Americans’ identity?

2) In what ways has the nation failed to live up to its ideals? In what ways has it succeeded? Is it still a work in progress?

3) How does the American creed affect public policy today? Please include examples from the lecture. Can you think of other examples?

Step 3: Reply to 2 Separate Threads on 2 Different Days by Sunday at 11:59pm EST (200+ words)

Please read your classmate’s post then discuss at least two of the following prompts in your reply posts:


1) Do you agree Americans have a common bond? Do Americans share a central identity or do they simply live in the same country? Explain.

2) Do you think the nation has lived up to its ideals or has it failed? Is it still a work in progress? Explain.

3) What is more important to Americans– that nobody is in need or that individuals have the freedom to pursue life’s goals?” How do these beliefs affect their view of public policy today? Do you agree?

NOTE: Your opinion alone will earn you a C or less in the discussion. Simply providing information from the lectures or supplementary materials (articles, videos, etc) will earn you a B or less. A post that includes your opinion AND the relevant information (arguments, examples, data) provided in the lectures and/or supplementary materials is more likely to earn full credit in the discussion. Please see expectations below and rubric attached for details.

The ideal answer should include the following:

  1. Each original response must be at least 300 words; each classmate response must be at least 200 words. Additional or lengthy responses may improve one’s grade.
  2. Postings should analyze the issue as well as advance class discussion and ponder possible connections to other issues or questions. Simply providing a textbook response will result in average grades. Students must demonstrate that they are able to go beyond textbook responses in order to demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills. Make sure to offer your personal views on the issues as well.
  3. Also, responses to classmate postings will improve your grade as well. Comments must go beyond an “I completely agree with you” or “that’s a good point” type of response. Finally, responses must be supported by course materials or additional external sources provided by the student (i.e. links to other news or journal articles, websites). Make sure to cite the information you are using. If you are using the textbook, simply use the following format: (author, page number).

Grading criteria for discussion board responses:

(1) ability to explore the issue(s) and directly link it to course materials and readings, discussions or external sites;

(2) ability to clarify, understand and question other student’s contributions;

(3) ability to constructively critique and take alternate positions to others contributions;

(4) expression of positive and negative feedback with respect to other student’s contributions;

(5) able to clearly articulate one’s position;

(6) application and demonstration of critical thinking and analytical skills;

(7) advance discussion on topics and present new ideas and information;

(8) depth of analysis and consideration of issue;

(9) well written and organized; and

(10) use of professional and courteous language when communicating with others.

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