Spring 2018 - 60805 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2018 - 60805 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy

E Pluribus Unum


Policy makers navigate a political landscape that features complex cultural differences.  The matters of immigration, religion, race, and region are among those that challenge policymakers in this demographically diverse world.  Not understanding these cultural cleavages can render well-intentioned policy outputs ineffective and even harmful. Public policy development that is attuned to harmonizing cultures starts with a theoretical understanding of culture and a historical knowledge of various cultures and their tensions. The E Pluribus Unum course uses the lens of cultural cohesions and cleavages (within the larger psycho-social, historical and political context) to study the policy making process. It engages students planning to be public policy practitioners and policy research analysts to use this frame to inform tangible policy developments. 

Brief Description

The E Pluribus Unum course will be team-taught in modules and will include experiential opportunities.  Dr. DeFrancesco Soto will lead the first module that will begin by looking at the psychology of groups, namely how individuals cognitively and affectively interpret themselves and those around them.  Topics to be covered include Social Identity Theory, stereotype processing, and implicit attitude measures.  This first module will establish a core understanding of the workings of individual decision making that will then be contextualized in the following modules.  Dr. Wasem will lead the second module that delves into the history of the roles immigration, religion, race, and region played in the formation of U.S. public policy. How the isolation and integration of various cultural groups were key factors over the years will also be discussed. The final module will use the cultural frame to analyze the immigration policy debate among federal, state and local governments over the enforcement of immigration laws. Both DeFrancseco Soto and Wasem will teach the third module, covering Arizona’s SB-10 from state house to the U.S. Supreme Court, ICE’s Secure Communities and the blowback, and the current debate over Sanctuary Cities.  Throughout the semester, course participants will have on-the-ground experiences with groups serving the immigrant community as well as government agencies charged with immigration enforcement.  Students will be evaluated along several dimensions:  papers at the end of each module; an in-class policy exercise, an experiential component, and participation.

SRH 3.314/3.355