Course Description: This course studies the theories and practice of public policy decision making. It will draw on examples of policy-making at the local, state, and federal level. The course will examine the economic, legal, regulatory, and political context of public sector decision making. The pervasive effects of public policy decisions on individuals, businesses, and not-for-profit institutions will be stressed. Case studies may include contemporary issues in health care, the role of money in public policy, the future of Social Security, homeland security and individual rights, environmental policies such as solid waste, land and water use issues, and technology policy. Other issues of current interest to students may also be considered.
Course Objectives: The course will stress the connections between public policy making and daily life. Students will gain an understanding of the political pressures and interest groups that influence and shape policy decisions. Students will examine various policy issues, critique and debate competing viewpoints, and present policy recommendations with reasoned explanations. All students will select a major public policy issue related to his/her interests and field of study and develop a lengthy research paper on this issue.
The course will focus on building student skills and competency in analytical thinking, research, expository writing, and information literacy. Evidence of these skills will be provided through a series of oral and written exercises –some will be short, in-class exercises, some will be brief essays, one will be a research paper of high quality.
The goal of this course is to help you think, write and speak clearly and knowledgeably about key topics in public policy as they affect you, your chosen profession, and society.
Books: the following book is required for purchase
Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives, 2nd EditionMichael E. Kraft and Scott R. Furlong (“Kraft & Furlong”)
Students will also be expected to read materials available through the worldwide web.
Grading: There will be three short written exercises assigned over the course of the semester to prepare the student for the research paper. The first of these exercises will be the student’s choice of an editorial or an autobiographical sketch. The second exercise will involve research on a subject of which the student has no prior knowledge. The final exercise will require the construction of a “Works Cited” page for the research paper. These exercises collectively will account for 37.5% of your grade. Students will also be expected to participate fully in class discussion (this includes Socratic dialog with the professor). Class discussion will account for 12.5% of the grade. A final research paper is also required. Students will be expected to develop a paper topic in conjunction with the professor. The research paper will account for 50% of your grade.
These various assignments are designed to promote the students’ ability to write coherently, think critically about public policy issues, and conduct in-depth research and analysis on an important policy topic. NOTE: You will be expected to begin work on your final papers early in the semester. It takes time to develop a topic, define a central theme, and conduct substantive research. Approval of a topic and a reading list are expected of the student! A list of due dates for these will be distributed in class.
Attendance: Class participation and discussion are vital in this course and can only help you and the class as a whole. Learning and public policy are not spectator sports. Students are required to attend each class and must notify the instructor in advance if they find it necessary to miss a class. Your attendance and participation are mandatory.
Be prompt! Please do not arrive late for class. Faculty will not lock tardy students out of class, but faculty may equate two or more instances of tardiness to an absence. Habitual lateness that significantly disrupts the learning process may result in a student being withdrawn from class by the instructor according to Section 1.36-1.
If you are chronically absent, you will fail the class. Specifically, those who miss more than five classes will receive an F.
Other Requirements and Procedures: It is expected that students are familiar with the fundamentals of American government at least at the level of an introductory college text. All reading assignments must be completed in advance of class meetings. Some of these readings may be difficult…PLEASE…stay with it! If you’re having difficulty keeping up, please inform the professor as soon as possible. The professor will provide the class with a multitude of references via e-mail and the world wide web. These references are intended to supplement the required text. Be prepared to discuss any supplemental materials forwarded to you.
Please keep informed about current public policy issues! Students are expected to read a newspaper or news web site on a daily basis. You may also wish to pay frequent visits to a public policy web site such as
http://www.publicagenda.com and the course web site