This course introduces students to major political issues and institutions of U.S. politics within a broader societal context. It analyses the global impact of the U.S.’s foreign policy, its economic and environmental policies as well as it cultural influence. It will examine how U.S. politics has become strikingly disharmonious and its politics increasingly polarized. Students in the course will explore how American society became increasingly divided after the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, and countercultural movements of the 1960s (with the Democratic Party moving left) as well as the resurgence of the religious right and economic libertarians in the 1970s and 1980s (leading the Republicans to become more conservative). Such political and party divisions, in turn, reflect deep social cleavages along class, racial, gender, generational, regional, and religious lines. The course will also explore how the U.S. as a ‘lonely’ superpower confronts increasingly assertive regional powers. Particular focus will be put on U.S.-Chinese relations. Theories of social cleavages, of key American political institutions (the presidency, Congress, the judiciary, political parties, etc), and well as of international relations will be applied by students to engage in problem solving exercises of problems facing the U.S. that are relevant to many other economically advanced societies, including Hong Kong.