Skip Navigation

Spring 2012 - 61800 - PA383C - Politics and Process

Addressing Public Policy in the 21st Century

Instructor(s): Evans, Angela
Unique Number: 61800
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 help you become solid analysts of public policy. The course is designed to improve your critical thinking and communication skills so that you will successfully engage in the development and implementation of policies and become sought after for your abilities to inform policy deliberations at the highest level of government.

In today’s policy world, public policy problems are more complex, solutions more difficult to create, and the players more partisan. At the same time the consequences of policy shifts and adjustments have grown more serious and immediate. As students of public policy, understanding how policy is development, how policy changes are deliberated, and how policy choices are made will better position you to successfully engage in the policy arena.

During our time together we will focus on the nature of public policy problems, examining the unique roles the Congress, the President, the Executive Branch, the courts, and outside actors play in the creation and oversight of public policy. We will examine selected public policy problems with roots in contemporary society; identify the nature of these problems; analyze the attendant challenges these problems create for the future well being of our Nation; explore ways the problems have been addressed; analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions offered thus far; develop new options for addressing these problems in the future; and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these options. We also will explore how policy options are tested in the political arena. The specific policy challenges we will explore may include: global climate change adaptations, access to postsecondary education, immigration policy, and the aging of the U.S. population.

The course is designed to integrate knowledge generated through sound policy analysis with political and organizational realities so that you will develop an appreciation for the complexity of public policy problems; and an understanding of the key players who tackle these problems, the environments in which they act, and processes they use to assess the feasibility of options offered to help solve these problems.

The course requires extensive reading to prepare for class, numerous writing activities, and a very high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based upon: several 3 page memoranda; a team project; an analytic memorandum framing a public policy issue that will be the subject of the final report; one 8-10 page final report analyzing a public policy issue; and class participation. There is no final examination.