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Fall 2011 - 61120 - PA383C - Politics and Process

Policy Development: Challenges & Opportunities

Instructor(s): Evans, Angela
Unique Number: 61120
Day & Time: W 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.212/221
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course acquaints students with how public policy develops and is adopted in the American governmental system. It is normally taken during the first year. The course helps students understand the different settings in which policy develops and the factors that influence its development. Each section of the course uses different substantive policy concerns such as international affairs, social policy, community engagement, and resource and environmental regulation to explore how individuals and institutions initiate and/or give legitimacy to public policy, including the executive and legislative branches, the courts, interest groups, and individual citizens. The course also covers the dynamics of the policy process by focusing on the roles of and relationships among various levels of government and the concepts and models used to describe these aspects of policy development. The roles of ideas, concepts, and formal methods of analysis in policy development are discussed. Reading assignments and class discussion focus on case studies, legislative hearings, policy-issue briefs, court decisions, and theoretical works which highlight and explain the development of particular public policies.

Section Description

Policies have become more complex, the players more diverse, and the consequences of policy creation and adjustment more serious and immediate. As students of public policy, understanding the nature of policy developments will better position you to successfully engage in the policy arena and to be critical, thoughtful users of policy-related research, data and information.

During our time together we will focus on the nature of public policy problems, examining the unique roles the Congress, the President, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court play in the creation and oversight of public policy. We will examine selected public policy problems with roots in contemporary society; identify the nature of these problems; analyze the attendant challenges these problems create for the future well being of our Nation; explore ways the problems have been addressed; analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions offered thus far; develop new options for addressing these problems in the future; and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these options.

This course is designed to integrate knowledge generated through sound policy analysis with political and organizational realities so that you will develop an appreciation for the complexity of public policy problems; and an understanding of the key players who tackle these problems, the environments in which they act, and processes they use to assess the feasibility of options offered to help solve these problems.

This course requires extensive reading to prepare for class and a very high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based upon: an on-the-spot briefing; a team project analyzing a major policy problem; an in-class collaborative project (entire class); a memorandum outlining a policy problem and options for addressing that problem; a one 15-20 page analytic report (based upon the short issue memorandum); 2-3 short memoranda evaluating third-party analyses; and class participation. There is no final examination.