Fall 2009 Course Description

Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Section Title: Shaping Defense Policy
Instructor(s): Edwin Dorn
Course: P A 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy
(previously Seminar in Topics in Public Policy)
Unique Number: 63095
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.312
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Notes: Cross List with GOV 388L

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: The Department of Defense is a large, complex, and highly consequential enterprise: it spends more than $600 billion annually and employs more than three million people. Its activities have huge domestic and international ramifications. Because of the length of time needed to develop new technologies and train leaders, DoD plans far ahead.

This graduate level seminar focuses on the processes by which broad national security goals are translated into defense policies and programs. The objectives of the course are to (a) enable graduates who take defense-related jobs to orient themselves inside the national security establishment, whether they are working in the Pentagon, at OMB or on Congressional staff; and (b) use DoD as an example of the way in which policies are developed and implemented in all large organizations.

Course Outline: Because most students have not had experience with the military, the seminar will begin with an overview of military terms and organizing principles. Students will become familiar with the basic documents that shape the institution, beginning with Title 10 of the United States Code. Following that, the course will follow a logical progression from the articulation of national security strategy through decisions about military organization and resources.

The course is organized around my belief that the Defense Department, like all organizations, focuses on five basic concerns: purposes, money, people, things, and information. Further, the effectiveness with which an organization pursues those five concerns – in this case, DoD’s ability to achieve its mission – is determined by the quality of its leadership. These six topics will be the “meat” of the course. Students will spend one or more class sessions on each of the following themes:

  1. Background: overview of DoD and of the military services, the difference between war fighters and resource providers, the roles of the key leaders.
  2. Purposes: what are we defending ourselves against (or fighting for)?
  3. People: recruiting, training and rewarding the force.
  4. Things: acquisition and logistics.
  5. Money: the defense budget.
  6. Information: management, public relations, and intelligence.
  7. Leadership: developing the officer corps.
  8. Thinking About The Future: anticipating threats, defining roles and missions.


Principal Texts:
In addition, from a list provided by the professor, each student will select two books to review for the benefit of the class.

Course Requirements and Expectations: Students will be expected to contribute to class discussions, lead at least one session, and complete a few writing assignments, including two book reviews.

Class Size: up to 15

Return to Fall 2009 Course Schedule