The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: American Presidents and Political Greatness

Ref: C3743212

Every year, American academics are asked to rate all US Presidents to date.Some Presidents are always assessed as Great - Washington, Lincoln and FDR, for example. Some are always regarded as poor or failed - James Buchanan (Who?!) or Herbert Hoover. Others, the majority, place between greatness and failure and moreover move between categories as time passes - the once vilified Harry S. Truman is now regarded as near-great. This course examines the reasons behind these Presidential classifications - historical context, personality, achievements, failures and luck. We will look in greater depth at certain modern Presidents who are rated very differently from each other - JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. We will finish with a collective preliminary assessment of Donald Trump's Presidency.

Course aim

The main aim of this course is to understand greatness and failure in American Presidents.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for those who have an interest in American politics and history, regardless of formal skills in those subjects.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Assess the performance of American presidents.
  • Discuss why some Presidents are considered great and others a failure.
  • Engage in informed discussion of American presidential politics.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: American Presidents and Political Greatness


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  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
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