State governments are often overlooked, however, states wield tremendous power over the daily lives of citizens. A citizen's life can look very different depending on what state she lives in. The course takes a comparative approach to understand this critical level of U.S. politics. Why is marijuana legal in some states and not others? Why are the systems of public education so different? A comparative look allows students to ask why states respond differently to similar policy questions, considering the potential role of historical, cultural, economic and political contexts as well as variations in institutional arrangements. After delving into factors that alter the political opportunity structures in states, students turn to case studies. Looking at particular states and particular policy issues allows one to see how and why politics and political outcomes vary across states.