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Spring 2013 - 62690 - PA383C - Policy Development

The American Welfare State

Instructor(s): Wong, Pat
Unique Number: 62690
Day & Time: W 9:00 am -12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.355/314
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 social security, school desegregation, resource and environmental regulation, and national health programs 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 role of ideas, concepts, and formal methods of analysis in policy development is 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
Scope and Objective

Politics and Process covers how solutions to public problems are framed, debated, legitimated, and implemented in the U.S. political system. The scope of this section is the welfare state. Students successfully completing this section can expect to (1) gain a broad overview of the history, programs, and politics of the American welfare state; (2) develop in-depth knowledge of a specific social welfare program; and (3) be exposed to skills in legislative tracking, processes of rule-making and formal hearings, knowledge of the policy advocacy process, writing of policy memos and briefs, and public speaking.

Structure of Content

Class members are expected to do preparatory work over the winter break, guidelines for which will be provided in early November. Course content is organized into three parts:

  • The first segment (5 sessions) covers intellectual perspectives on the welfare state, including framework for understanding policy development, historical sketch on U.S. approaches to social protection, and political landscapes of welfare state politics.
  • In the second segment (5 sessions), the instructor will lead discussions on the politics and process of specific policy issues. For each issue, there will be equal attention on program operations and on the underlying political dynamics and idea evolution.
  • The third segment (5 sessions) consists of teaching sessions by class members on specific programs. Before the fall semester ends, class members should explore with the instructor potential research topics, which will be finalized by the end of January.

Learning Experiences: These exercises are proposed by the instructor and subject to approval by class members:

Project 1: Pre-semester Memo

Project 2: History-and-Politics Exercise (Team-based)

Project 3: Brief on Legislative Tracking (Individual-based)

Project 4: Report on Field Exercise/Comparative (Team-based)

Project 5: Policy Paper (Team-based)

Project 6: Teaching Session; (Team-based)

Expectation: There is no formal prerequisite, although basic familiarity with American social history is strongly recommended. Abstention from note-taking in class is proposed by instructor and subject to approval by class members.