POLS 207: Contemporary Issues in Public Policy
Jose Marichal, Ph.D.
California Lutheran University
Department of Political Science
Office Hrs: 11:40 to 1pm MWF
Office: Swenson 228
This course is about people coming together to make collective decisions about what constitutes "the good life." All of us have things we care deeply about, aspirations and dreams, but we can't achieve these things on our own. We live in a society with others and through the political process, we make decisions every day that affect people's ability to live their version of "the good life." This course is about two things. First, it is about developing your view of "the good life" - i.e. what are your dreams and aspirations for yourself and for the world and (2) how can we make collective decisions that allow people to enjoy "the good life." In this course we will look at: Who makes collective decisions? What criteria do they use to arrive at decisions? How do people promote preferred solutions? Why are obvious problems not addressed? This class will engage you in the process of public decision making. You will be asked to think about your own personal goals and how they connect to the society you live in. You will look at the policy process surrounding your goals and how to go about changing that process if it produces unwanted results. Throughout the course, we will work towards developing policy solutions that will affect the things you hope to achieve in life.
This course will address the following CLU General Education Goals:
This course will address the following Political Science Department Goals:
In this course, students are expected to:
Any aspect of this syllabus can be changed by the instructor at his discretion.
Readings for the day need to be completed prior to class times, as class activities, discussions, and quizzes will primarily draw upon assigned readings.
Talking, working, and thinking with others are large parts of this class. We will get into discussions about some controversial subjects. I encourage expressions of opinions (myself included), but there are some classroom boundaries. Our class will be a safe place. That is to say, we will all treat each other in a respectful manner. Translation: rude interruptions, hurtful insults (including racial, gender, sexuality, etc. slurs), and personal attacks will not be tolerated. You may not always be comfortable with the topics, and by no means are you expected to approve of everything we discuss.
California Lutheran University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with various documented disabilities (physical, learning, or psychological). If you are a student requesting accommations for this course, please contact your professor at the beginning of the semester and register with the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities (Pearson Library, Center for Academic Resources, Ext. 3260) for the facilitation and verification of need. Faculty will work closely together with you and your coordinator to provide necessary accommodations.
Academic Honesty: Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class. According to the CLU student handbook, plagiarism occurs “whenever a source of any kind has not been acknowledged.” With respect to my policy, let me be clear – you will receive and F in the course if you take material from the Internet and insert it into any written work as your own without giving credit to the person who wrote it. Those found violating the CLU code on academic dishonesty in any way will receive an F in the class.
All quizzes, exams, activities, and papers must be turned in on time: no make-ups will be given, and no re-writes will be offered. If an assignment is of the take-home variety, it must be typed, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, spell-checked, grammar-checked, and demonstrate correct citation and bibliographic format. Late take-home assignments will not be graded unless you have documentation of an emergency. Missed quizzes will be marked down as zeroes
Your grade will come from the following assignments:
Discussion Leadership: One Friday during the semester, you will be responsible for leading discussion on the readings for that day. You will lead a class discussion that draws out the main arguments from the reading. To guide the discussion you will provide two thought provoking questions for group discussion. Each of you will post your questions to the Google+ Community no later than noon on the Monday of the week you are presenting. Failure to do so will earn you a two point reduction for the assignment. In addition, you will write a 5-7 page reflection paper based on the readings. The questions and responses will be graded based on their thoughtfulness and clarity. The class discussion assignment will be worth 10 points.
Discussion Leadership and Reflection Paper = 20 points
Discussion Participation: In preparation for the Friday discussion, you will provide responses to one or both of that day’s questions and post them to the Google+ community. You can earn up to 10 points on this assignment by posting a thoughtful yet pithy response by 8am on ten of those Friday mornings. The responses will be graded on their thoughtfulness and clarity.
10 Class participation responses = 10 points
Class Participation: part of your grade will come from your level of engagement with the readings. Before each class, I will ask you to share your critical reflections on the readings (e.g. areas where you agree/disagree with the author and WHY. You must comment on at least one article for each day of assigned readings and post it to the Google+ community. I will rely a great deal on your comments to structure the class discussion. Here is a link to the Google+ Community.
Google Participation = 10 points
Exams: We will complete our consideration of public policy issues with an in-class exam in which you will be asked to apply the theories and concepts learned to current issues related to public policy. At the end of our final section of the course, we will do a second in-class exam that will have the same objectives. Each exam will be worth 25 points.
2 midterm exams x 30 points = 60 points
Discussion Leadership/Paper = 20 points
Discussion Participation = 10 points
Google+ Participation = 10 points
Exams – 30 points X 2 exams = 60 points
Stone, D. Policy Paradox. WW Norton Press.
All Other Readings Accessible On-Line.
Schedule of Readings
Week 1: Introduction
Sept 4: Introduction to the Course
Sept 6: What are Policy Conflicts?
Stone Chapter 1: The Market and the Polis
Week 2: Value Conflicts
Sept 9: What is "Good Policy?"
Sept 11: Defining Equity
Stone Chapter 2: Equity
Sept 13: What is Equitable? Slides
Week 3: Efficiency and Welfare
Sept 16: What is an efficient outcome?
Stone Chapter 3: Efficiency
Sept 18: What is an efficient outcome?
Sept 20: What is Welfare?
Stone Chapter 4: Welfare
Week 4: Welfare and Liberty
Sept 23: What is Welfare?
Sept 25: What is Liberty?
Stone Chapter 6 (or 5 depending on the edition of the book - make sure you’re reading the chapter on Liberty) :Liberty
Sept 27: What is Liberty?
Maybe add fukuyama here (democracy as a utopian idea) - http://blog.oup.com/2011/10/derrida/
Week 5: Framing
Stone Chapter 7: Symbols
Oct 2: Symbols Slides
Oct 4: Fall Holiday
Section II: Defining Problems
Week 6: Framing
Oct 7: Frames and Heuristics
Oct 9: Symbols and the Brain
Discussion Leader #2
Oct 11: Stories and Politics
Week 7: Uses of Data
Oct 14: Numbers and Policy
Stone Chapter 8
Oct 16: Policy and Numbers
Blogger Discussion on Political Science and Policy
Oct 18: Review for Exam #1
Week 8: Causal Stories
Oct 21: Exam #1
Oct 23: Causal Stories in Politics
Stone Chapter 9: Causal Stories
Oct 25: Causal Stories Cont.
Week 9: Coalition Building
Stone Chapter 10: Interests
Oct 30: Interests
Nov 1: Interests and policy
Week 10: Policy Opportunities
Nov 4: Interests and Politics
Nov 6: Decisions
Stone Chapter 11: Decisions
Nov 8: Decisions - Cont.
Week 11: Inducements
Nov 10: Decisions - Cont.
Section III: Creating and Promoting Solutions
Nov 13: Inducements
Stone Chapter 12: Inducements
Nov 15: Inducements
Week 12: Rules
Nov 18: Rules
Stone Chapter 13: Rules
Week 13: Facts
Nov 20 - Facts
Stone Chapter 14: Facts
Nov 22 - Facts
Nov 25: Rights
Stone Chapter 15: Rights
Nov 27 - Dec 1 - Thanksgiving Break
Week 14: Rights and Powers
Dec 4: Powers Slides
Stone Chapter 16: Powers
Dec 6: Powers
Dec 9: Powers
General Additional Readings