Fall 2014 - 62456 - PA383C - Policy Development

American Welfare State

Course Objective
Policy Development covers how public problems are framed and debated, and how policy solutions are legitimated and implemented in the U.S. political system. The scope of this section is social welfare policy.

Students successfully completing this section can expect to (1) gain a broad overview of the history, programs, ideologies, and politics of the American welfare state; (2) develop in-depth knowledge of a specific social welfare program; and (3) gain perspectives about advocacy coalition formation, legislative tracking, rule-making, and policy communication in the form of policy memos, briefs, and public speaking.

Structure of Content
The content of this course is organized into four segments:

The first segment (4 sessions) covers institutions and history in the politics of the U.S. welfare state. Class members will learn the big picture of U.S. social policy.
Segment two (3 sessions) focuses on the structure and strategies of contemporary political competition, including budgetary politics, ideological rivalries, advocacy process, and implementation capacity of the welfare state.
In the third 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 fourth segment (3 sessions) consists of teaching sessions by class members on specific programs. Class members should explore with the instructor potential research topics before the fall semester if possible. Project decisions should be finalized by the third week of the fall semester.

Learning Experiences
There are seven exercises, one every two weeks. These exercises include: experiential fieldwork, documenting the history and politics of a program area, analyzing legislative strategies, doing participant observation in a formal meeting, analyzing regulatory rules, writing a policy paper, and teaching the class on a program. Most though not all of these exercises are cumulative elements of the semester research project. Depending on class size, the semester research project, along with some of these exercises, may be team-based.

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.

Class members are expected to take initiative in their own semester research process. That includes careful research and independent reading from early on in the semester.