Women, Politics and Public Policy
The objective of this course is to provide a foundation that will prepare students to understand and disentangle the policymaking process by using a variety of analytical tools. Simultaneously, it is designed to analyze the policymaking process from a gendered perspective. Thus, the emphasis of the class is twofold. On the one hand, we will analyze the role of women as policymakers: how they arrive at decision-making positions, how they exercise power and how they establish and pursue their policy agendas and policy priorities. This section of the course runs parallel with the general theme of women and politics. On the other hand, we will learn how to use a variety of analytical frameworks to better understand the policymaking process while applying them to various policy areas and issues that have a distinct gender component, such as health, education, employment, violence against women, reproductive rights and so on. In this section, the analysis will focus on how specific policy initiatives have had an impact on the lives of women and how they were enacted (e.g., the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Obamacare, Equal Pay and so on). The focus of the course will be primarily on the United States, but a comparative perspective is also built into the topics covered and discussed. The comparison of the U.S. with other nations and cultures adds significant analytical breadth to any assessment of women’s social, political, and economic lives. It is also a rich approach to understanding the policymaking process in general. Requirements and Expectations All students are expected to read the assigned materials every week in order to contribute actively to class discussions. Students will be expected to make individual and team presentations to the class and lead the discussion in conjunction with the instructor. In these cases, students will also be responsible for providing selected readings to the class and preparing other pertinent class materials. Given the active participatory format of the class, it is imperative that everyone come well prepared to every session. All reading materials assigned will be available in electronic or library reserves. Journal articles and book chapters will be posted in your weekly Canvas Modules. Part II of the course, Comprehensive Frameworks and Policy Analysis, will consist of pairing a specific policy framework with a policy issue, on which students will work as teams and make a formal presentation to the class. Every team will be responsible for preparing a five-page policy brief, and every individual student will prepare a one-page policy memo. The policy briefs are due the day of the team presentation; the memos are due one week later. For the final written assignment students will choose and analyze a specific policy issue utilizing two different analytical framework studied in the course. The paper must have a well-defined policy issue and a background review that integrates competing perspectives. Based on this, the applicability and usefulness of each model must be either supported or refuted for the specific issue at hand. In the final section of the paper students must explain which policy framework they found most useful and why. Grading Grading will be based on students’ participation in class discussions and general contribution to the class (20%); individual and team presentations (30%); policy memos and policy briefs (20%); and the final paper (30%).