Spring 2018 - 60742 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy
Politics of Public Policy Design
Why do some public policies endure, while others are altered or repealed? “Policy feedback” is the term for the reaction of the general public and interest groups to particular public policies. What is called “the new policy design” seeks to understand ways to design policies so that they create positive policy feedbacks, while resisting negative policy feedbacks. In the words of the political scientist Theda Skocpol, “[A]s politics creates policies, policies also remake politics.”
In this course, students will learn the importance of strategic thinking in policy design and the need to create political coalitions not only for the enactment of policies but also for their implementation and defense against future challenges. The method will be case studies of particular major public policies of recent decades, both those which have won broad and enduring public support, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and those which have inadvertently created a backlash that led to their radical alteration or repeal, like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which was replaced in 2015. The case studies will be limited to domestic policy. Students will also develop a familiarity with the relevant social science literature. Evaluation of students will be on the following basis: 20 percent attendance and class participation; 20 percent for a book/essay review; 30 percent for an open-book mid-term; 30 percent for a 15-page paper. All required readings will be available on Canvas.