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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Who Govern's Saratoga Springs?

Instructor(s): Robert Turner, Assistant Professor of Government

How well does democracy work in Saratoga Springs? How do we know? The foundation of democracy in the United States is its institutions of local government. The men and women chosen by their fellow citizens to govern them determine not only what their governments do, but the quality of the democratic process. The day-to-day operation of government and hotly contested 2007 election in Saratoga Springs provide a real life laboratory for studying the practice of democracy in 21st century America. In the first half of the seminar, we will study competing theoretical perspectives on the distribution of power in America and how democracy operates. In the second half, you will learn the logic and process of conducting empirical research in social science. Students will observe city council meetings, county board of supervisor meetings, school board meetings, planning and zoning board meetings, and campaign events; they will conduct interviews with local political elites and conduct a survey of citizens’ vote choice in the 2007 Saratoga Springs city election.

Course Offered