Virginia Government and Politics

Course Code
PLAP 3420
Kenneth S. Stroupe

The course focuses on government at the state and local levels and introduces students to key political figures and policymakers (past and present) who influence the political culture of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Students begin the course in Jamestown, the birthplace of American democracy, and conclude with a behind-the-scenes look at opening day of the Virginia General Assembly and go behind-the-scenes for the Governor’s annual State of the Commonwealth address. Along the way students also explore the complex history of the Civil War, its culmination in Appomattox and how circumstances of the Civil War influenced the next 150 years, including the long entrenchment of the Byrd organization as well as the resurgence of, first, the Republican Party and then the modern Democratic Party.

Understanding the winds of change at work in the governmental and political life of the state enables students to offer a tentative answer to respected Virginia-journalist Guy Friddell's query: “What is it about Virginia?”