Fall 2017 - 60735 - PA 381W – Foundations of Policymaking
Survey of Contemporary Policy Issues - D.C.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a variety of issues on the national policy agenda. Students in this program are expected to develop through their Policy Apprenticeship specialized knowledge and professional expertise in a specific policy area. At the same time, it is important for career development in national policymaking to have basic exposure to issues across a broad policy spectrum and how they are related in national politics. This course offers that exposure. The course has a modular design, with three or four topical modules of about three weeks each. The overview segment covers generic policy concepts and tools used to secure international cooperation (economic sanctions and incentives, formal alliances, defense cooperation and exchanges, intelligence sharing, diplomacy, etc.) or effect federalism in domestic policy (grant-distribution formulas, “hold harmless” provisions, directives v. guidance, etc.). The intent is to develop an understanding of the working relationship between the U.S. national government and other countries and international organizations on the one hand, and state and local governments on the other. The modules features a faculty member with expertise in a broad policy area. The areas covered will naturally vary from year to year as a function of the national policy agenda, but as examples they might include: economic and trade policy, immigration policy, education policy and human capital development, foreign and defense policy, health and social policy, natural resource and technology policy, transportation and infrastructure policy, federal regulation, and other policy areas as deemed appropriate in a given year. Each module will use about half of the time to offer a broad survey of the existing programs and issues in that general policy area, and dedicate the other half of the time to more in-depth discussion of a selected few issues, covering failed attempts as well as successful adoption of reform in the past, nature of on going controversies, and empirical analytic evidence as well as the political outlook for innovation. The course incorporates a capstone experience in the form of integrative presentations, where class members will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge across a spectrum of policy issues and discuss their political implications for national policymaking.