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Spring 2011 - 61870 - PA383C - Politics and Process

Addressing Public Policy in the 21st Century

Instructor(s): Evans, Angela
Unique Number: 61870
Day & Time: T 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.316/350
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course acquaints students with how public policy develops and is adopted in the American governmental system. It is normally taken during the first year. The course helps students understand the different settings in which policy develops and the factors that influence its development. Each section of the course uses different substantive policy concerns such as international affairs, social policy, community engagement, and resource and environmental regulation to explore how individuals and institutions initiate and/or give legitimacy to public policy, including the executive and legislative branches, the courts, interest groups, and individual citizens. The course also covers the dynamics of the policy process by focusing on the roles of and relationships among various levels of government and the concepts and models used to describe these aspects of policy development. The roles of ideas, concepts, and formal methods of analysis in policy development are discussed. Reading assignments and class discussion focus on case studies, legislative hearings, policy-issue briefs, court decisions, and theoretical works which highlight and explain the development of particular public policies.

Section Description

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an appreciation for the complexity of public policy problems; an understanding of how to identify and focus on the root causes of these problems; and a facility and skill set for utilizing analytic approaches to help address them.

The course will focus on the development and study of public policy at the national level. Students will discuss what public policy is, how it begins, how it develops, how it is influenced, and how it moves through Congress.

The student will (1) examine selected public policy problems with roots in contemporary society; (2) identify the nature of these problems; (3) analyze the attendant challenges these problems create for the future wellbeing of our nation; (4) explore ways the problem has been addressed and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions offered thus far; (5) explore ways the executive and judicial branches of government influence these policy problems; (6) develop new options for addressing these problems in the future; and (7) analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these options.


(1)John Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, 2nd ed., 1995, Addison-Wesley.

(2)Eugene Bardach, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis, 2nd ed., 2005, Congressional Quarterly Press.