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Spring 2012 - 62110 - PA392D - Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy II

Instructor(s): Lynn, Laurence E.
Unique Number: 62110
Day & Time: M 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.360
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy I and II explore the theoretical underpinnings of public policy.  Includes political philosophy concepts and various theoretical  approaches to making policy.

Section Description

This course has two ambitions. The first is to sharpen your understanding of concepts introduced in PA TPin order to enhance your appreciation of their applicability to public policy research. The second is to extend the scope of “theory and philosophy of public policy” to include the institutional and administrative infrastructure whereby public policies become operational realities.  These new topics are concerned with public policy implementation in the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts in which it occurs. Course content comprises philosophies, analytic frameworks, theories, and models that illuminate how policy research contributes to policy making and how implementation mediates the relationship between the goals of public policies and their outcomes.

The purpose of the course is to further prepare you to engage in theory-based, empirical public policy research on the foundation of a thorough grasp of the field’s intellectual resources and traditions. The core of such research is the process of theorizing itself. A perspective on theorizing as an intellectual process is appended to this syllabus. You should  read it carefully.

Course Requirements

Following detailed guidance below, you are expected to complete all assigned readings, actively participate in, and occasionally lead, class discussions, complete all written assignments, and complete a written, in-class final exam. Required readings represent only some of the important readings in the field. You are expected to explore other readings on course topics and discuss them in class and in written assignments. In addition to required readings, you are expected to come to class prepared to discuss current public policy issues in relationship to classroom topics based on regular perusal of national and local media.

Grading is based on each student’s contribution to the course and the quality of their work in the following areas:

Class Participation

You are expected to participate fully in class discussions of the assigned readings and to take the lead, as appropriate, with respect to readings and issues of special interest to you.

Weekly Reflection Papers

Each of you is expected to prepare a short (1-2 page double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins) paper reflecting on (not summarizing) the assigned readings for the class and raising questions and issues for class discussion. You can reflect on the quality of the authors’ arguments, on differences or tensions in the readings, on authors’ research designs, and on issues you would like to have clarified or discussed in class. 

  • These reflection papers are due no later than 9 a.m. on the day of the class and must be e-mailed to the instructor and to the other members of the class. No late submissions will be accepted.

Journal Article Reviews

You are expected to prepare three 3-5 page (doubled-spaced, etc.) analyses of the arguments in a published journal article using the method of argument discussed below. The articles may be part of the research for your course paper. Disciplined critique of published or draft manuscripts is an important skill for public policy academics as well as for practitioners seeking to inform themselves. The format for these reviews conforms to the method of argument described on pp. 6-7 of this syllabus: identify the five elements, preferably in the author(s)’ own words, then add your own evaluation of that argument. 

  • Due Dates: Submit the first of these analyses by Week 5, the second by Week 10, and the third by the last day of class.

Course Paper

You are expected to prepare a 10-20 page (exclusive of appendices) paper sketching a policy proposal, ideally one related to your dissertation research, and to present a clear argument concerning the issues associated with its implementation from the perspective of policy processes, governance, institutions, and organizations.

  • A 1-2 page prospectus that describes your subject and proposed argument is due on February 15 (Week 5). 
  • A 2-page progress report – what you have done and learned so far -- is due on April 5 (Week 12).
  • These term papers are due at the beginning of class in Week 15 (May 3). At that time, you will be expected to present an informal oral summary of your argument of no longer than 10-15 minutes – strictly enforced. 

Final Exam:  The final exam will be in-class, closed book, and  written. The exam is modeled on the written portion of the Ph.D. comprehensive exams at the LBJ School.