Addressing Public Policy in the 21st Century
The purpose of this course is to help you become solid analysts of public policy. The course is designed to improve your critical thinking and communication skills so that you will successfully engage in the development and implementation of policies and become sought after for your abilities to inform policy deliberations at the highest level of government. In today’s policy world, public policy problems are more complex, solutions more difficult to create, and the players more partisan. At the same time the consequences of policy shifts and adjustments have grown more serious and immediate. As students of public policy, understanding how policy is development, how policy changes are deliberated, and how policy choices are made will better position you to successfully engage in the policy arena. During our time together we will focus on the nature of public policy problems, examining the unique roles the Congress, the President, the Executive Branch, the courts, and outside actors play in the creation and oversight of public policy. We will examine selected public policy problems with roots in contemporary society; identify the nature of these problems; analyze the attendant challenges these problems create for the future well being of our Nation; explore ways the problems have been addressed; analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions offered thus far; develop new options for addressing these problems in the future; and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these options. We also will explore how policy options are tested in the political arena. The specific policy challenges we will explore may include: global climate change adaptations, access to postsecondary education, immigration policy, and the aging of the U.S. population. The course is designed to integrate knowledge generated through sound policy analysis with political and organizational realities so that you will develop an appreciation for the complexity of public policy problems; and an understanding of the key players who tackle these problems, the environments in which they act, and processes they use to assess the feasibility of options offered to help solve these problems. The course requires extensive reading to prepare for class, numerous writing activities, and a very high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based upon: several 3 page memoranda; a team project; an analytic memorandum framing a public policy issue that will be the subject of the final report; one 8-10 page final report analyzing a public policy issue; and class participation. There is no final examination.