This is the first part of a two-course series designed to explore the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of politics and public policy and to serve as a foundation for understanding the broad theories that have influenced the policy sciences and academic policy research. Its principal aim is to provide a set of tools for understanding and analyzing the policymaking process by assessing the development of the theory and philosophy of public policy. The focus of the course will be on broad frameworks to help students better understand different perspectives on academic policy research and the role of policy analysis in a democratic society. As a requirement in our PhD program, this part of the course is designed to provide an overview of major theories and problems in contemporary public policy from a variety of academic disciplines, as well as the search for a unique policy theory. Public policy is also an applied field. We will evaluate the combination of theory and practice in policy analysis and research design, assessing simultaneously the creation and function of institutions, the role of official and unofficial actors in the policymaking process, and the impact of policy on a variety of constituencies, seen through the lens of democratic theory and the relations between state and society. Ultimately, the key objective of the class is to provide a foundation that will prepare students to design and conduct their own policy research.