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Fall 2010 - 60895 - PA383C - Politics and Process

The Politics of Public Policy

Instructor(s): Hutchings, Robert
Unique Number: 60895
Day & Time: M 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.314
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

Policymaking is an inherently political process.  While experts may calculate the costs and benefits of various policy options, outcomes depend upon politically based decisions and their underlying, often unarticulated, values and belief systems.  Effective policymaking, whether at the state/local, national, or international level depends on good policy (however one defines the “good”), good politics, and good practice.  This course helps students think and act tri-dimensionally by examining these three “goods” through a combination of theoretical readings and accompanying case studies in ethics, decision-making, leadership, strategic design, negotiation, organizational behavior, and other key elements of public policy.  Cases will range across the spectrum of domestic and international policy issues.
Students will three short policy memoranda (of no more than 1,000 words each), contribute to two group memos, make individual and group oral presentations, and submit a somewhat longer (ca. 3,000-word) final policy paper.  Class participation will constitute an important part of the final grade.  There will be no exams.