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Spring 2014 - 63370 - PA383C - Policy Development

Gender, Health & Society

Instructor(s): Angel, Jacqueline L.
Unique Number: 63370
Day & Time: W 9:00 am -12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.216/219
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

This course examines the gender dimensions of health, illness, and the medical care industry in the United States and other developed nations.  It is motivated by the fact that health, disease, and medical care have important gender-specific dimensions that are affected by economics, politics, and culture. In the past the medical care system often ignored gender, as well as race-based differences in health care needs. These gaps in knowledge concerning risks and appropriate treatments have very specific consequences that we will investigate.  The collection of readings will allow us to examine the social institutions that shape men’s and women’s health and health care.  Specific topics will include reproductive health, single motherhood and the stress of raising children alone, welfare and health care, divorce and changes in health, certain illnesses that women experience including breast and ovarian cancer, drug and alcohol abuse, and the forces that influence research into women’s health problems. In addition, we examine the role of women as major actors in changing the health care system, reducing health risks for themselves and their families, and their roles as health care providers, public administrators, and leaders in the health care establishment. We will also touch upon the role of local, state and federal agencies in health policy formulation and implementation, the politics of the medicalization of women’s issues including childbirth, refugee and immigrant women's health, and more. The course will also examine the role of different levels and branches of government, including the presidency, Congress, the courts, and the bureaucracy, in the formation of public policy.  Alternative political ideologies regarding state and private responsibility for women’s health will be compared and contrasted.  Similarly we will assess the relative power of key non-governmental actors, such as interest groups, health care NPOs, researchers, and the media in the definition and framing of our health agenda. The course deals with rapidly evolving issues and readings will be assigned as current events warrant. 

EVALUATION: Assignments include a policy issue brief (50%), article or government report review (20%), point-counterpoint exchange, legislative briefing (20%). Attendance and participation are integral parts of the course and will count towards the final grade (10%).


  • Bird, C.E. and P.P. Rieker. 2008. Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Miles, T.P. 2012. Health Care Reform and Disparities: History, Hype, and Hope. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio.
  • Stone, D.  2001.  Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. New York:  W.W. Norton and Company.

This course is an LBJ School course offering with cross-listings from three other departments (SW 395K #64500; WGS 393 #48225; and SOC 395J.13 #46655).