Spring 2015 - 61120 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2015 - 61120 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Intelligence & Decision-making

“Intelligence and Decision-making” develops student understanding of what intelligence is, how it succeeds and fails, and the relationship between intelligence and decision-makers.  Students survey the wide range of activities and structure of the U.S. Intelligence Community, including the missions, origins, cultures, and authorities of the primary component agencies.  Though not a history course, historical examples, as well as current events, will be used extensively for illustration.

The number and complexity of organizations, functions, and types of intelligence (HUMINT, SIGINT, Imagery, Open Source, etc.), and the wide range of current issues and historical examples, are too vast to address comprehensively in a single course.  The concept of intelligence as decision advantage will serve, therefore, as an organizing principle and vector in traversing this landscape.  (The neglected topics of counterintelligence and covert action will be only partial exceptions.)  Moral dilemmas associated with espionage and reconciling secrecy and intelligence activities with democracy and the right to privacy will be discussed at various points in the course.  

A wide variety of students beyond those interested in a career in intelligence should consider the course.   

  • Intelligence has been called “the hidden dimension” of statecraft and, as this course emphasizes, the value of intelligence is best measured by its impact on decision-makers.  Though it is much less hidden today, intelligence is still under-emphasized in educational settings.  Nor is there any systematic preparation for the wise and realistic consumption of intelligence after entering government. 
  • Beyond informing policy, intelligence plays other key roles in US international relations.  Intelligence professionals implement US policy decisions and manage foreign intelligence relationships and secrets sharing, which are often among the most “special” components of larger bilateral or multi-lateral relationships 
  • The line between international and domestic security overlap more than ever—most visibly in counterterrorism and counter-narcotics, but also in areas such as disaster recovery and border security.   Though state and local leaders and the domestic law enforcement community are important as both consumers and producers of intelligence, there is a clear need to develop a better mutual understanding between these communities and the national intelligence Agencies.
  • The introduction to written and oral communication methods and habits of mind used by intelligence professionals in support of busy decision-makers can benefit all students.
SRH 3.316/350