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Summer 1 2010 - 94230 - PA383C - Politics and Process

Public Policy and the Internet

Instructor(s): Chapman, Gary
Unique Number: 94230
Day & Time: MW 6:00 - 9:45 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 LBJ School course, "Public Policy and the Internet," will be a graduate-level policy development course on topics about U.S. public policy related to the Internet, the global network of computers and software. The course will cover a variety of public policy controversies, including federal telecommunications legislation; state and local telecommunications policy; privacy; digital encryption; copyright; public access to information; equity and access; the Internet and taxation; electronic commerce; and the emerging politics of "cyberculture," among other topics.

Seminar Requirements: The course will have four major requirements: readings, class participation, an oral presentation on a subject of interest, and a written paper on the same or a different subject.

Readings: Students will be expected to do the readings assigned for each class and be prepared to discuss the content of the readings assigned for each class. Students must consider the major policy controversies that they find reflected in the readings and be prepared to ask or answer questions related to such controversies. The assigned readings are introductory in nature only -- for some subjects, students may need to supplement the assigned readings with material that they find on their own or with material recommended by the course instructor. Some class sessions will feature reading lists that are quite extensive. It is up to each student to determine how to manage these readings -- i.e., whether each reading should be skimmed, reviewed, or read closely. Most of the readings assigned in this course are the basic documents available on their respective subjects, which means that they are recommended not only for their content but as references for the subject.

Class Participation: The course will be run as a graduate seminar, therefore class participation by everyone in the class is imperative and required. Students will be expected to discuss, query, challenge, and agree or disagree with assigned readings, the instructor, and each other. The aim of the course is to provide lively and instructive discussion about the controversies the course will cover.

Course Presentation: Each student will be expected to choose one of the subjects scheduled in the syllabus and prepare an oral presentation on the subject, and also take responsibility for leading class discussion about that issue for that particular day. Students can expect that their reading assignments, or recommended readings, for the subject they choose for an oral presentation, will be significantly more extensive than what is generally assigned to students for that specific class session. Students should model their presentations on an oral briefing they might give to a policymaking committee of some kind, which means that the presentation must cover the background of the issue, its history, the various developed positions around the issue, and an argument about what should be done, in terms of policy recommendations.

Course Paper: Each student will be required to write a course paper, to be turned in on the last day of the term, July 8. All student papers are due the same day, Thursday, July 8. The paper should be an in-depth, graduate-level research and briefing document on an issue of interest to the student which is also included, or at least touched upon, in the planned course outline. Course papers must be far more specific than the broad topics set for each class session, and, as such, topics must be approved by the instructor no later than the class session of Wednesday, June 16.