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Spring 2013 - 62985 - PA392D - Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy II

Instructor(s): Lynn, Laurence E.
Unique Number: 62985
Day & Time: M 2:00 pm -5:00 pm
Room: SRh 3.360
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy I and II explore the theoretical underpinnings of public policy.  Includes political philosophy concepts and various theoretical  approaches to making policy.

Section Description

Course Objective

The overall purpose of the course is to further prepare you to engage in theory-based, empirical public policy research on the foundation of a thorough and intuitive understanding of the field’s intellectual traditions and resources.  The core of such research is the intellectual process of theorizing itself.

In furtherance of this purpose, the course has two specific ambitions. 

  1. The first is to familiarize you with a variety of policy process theories and models in order to enhance your appreciation of their potential value in public policy research.  Readings will include both standard models associated with public policy theory as well as process models from other disciplines and fields that are not ordinarily identified as policy process models.
  2. The second is to extend the scope of “theory and philosophy of public policy” from topics covered in Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy I to include the institutional and administrative infrastructure whereby public policies become operational realities.

Discussion topics and readings are concerned with public policy formulation and implementation in the political, economic, social, and organizational contexts in which they occur.  Course content comprises philosophies (or metatheories), analytic frameworks, theories, and models from a variety of disciplines and fields of scholarship.  Class discussion will consider how policy research contributes to policy making and how implementation mediates the relationship between the goals of public policies and their actual outcomes.

Course Requirements: Following detailed guidance below, you are expected to study all assigned readings, actively participate in class discussions, complete all written assignments, and complete a written, no-notes in-class final exam. 

Required readings constitute only some of the important literature in the field.  You are encouraged to explore other readings on course topics and discuss them in class and in written assignments.  In addition to required readings, you are expected to come to class prepared to discuss current public policy issues – local, national, and international – in relationship to classroom topics based on regular monitoring of national and local media.

Course grades will be based on your contribution to the course and on the quality of your work in the following five areas. 

  • Class Participation: You are expected to participate fully in class discussions of the assigned readings and to take the lead, as appropriate, with respect to readings and issues of special interest to you.
  • Weekly Reflection Papers:Each of you is expected to prepare a short (1-2 page double paper reflecting on (not summarizing) the assigned readings for the class and raising questions and issues for class discussion.  You can reflect on the quality of the authors’ arguments, on differences or tensions between the readings, on authors’ research designs, and on issues you would like to have clarified in class.  These papers will not be graded, but I will comment on them as appropriate.
  • Journal Article Reviews: You are expected to prepare three 3-5 page (doubled-spaced) analyses of the arguments in a published journal article using the method of argument discussed on pp. 4-5 of this syllabus.  The first of these is required of all students and is due January 30 (see the assignment attached to this syllabus). The other two articles may be part of the research for your course paper.  Disciplined critique of published or draft manuscripts is an important skill for public policy academics as well as for practitioners seeking to inform themselves.
  • Course Paper: You are expected to prepare a 10-20 page (exclusive of appendices) paper sketching a policy proposal, perhaps one related to your dissertation subject, and to present a clear, complete argument concerning the issues associated with its implementation from the perspective of policy processes, governance, institutions, organizations, and administrative behavior
  • Final Exam: The final exam will be in-class, closed book, and written.  The exam is modeled on the written portion of the Ph.D. theory and philosophy comprehensive exams that you will take following your second year of course work.