POLS 207: Contemporary Issues in Public Policy
Jose Marichal, Ph.D.
California Lutheran University
Department of Political Science
Office Hours: 2:05pm to 4:05pm MW
Office: Swenson 228
This course is about how societies 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 will focus upon 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 we make collective decisions that prefer one view of "the good life" over another. 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. In addition, you will be asked to reflect upon the question of whether you have the ability and opportunity to engage in the decision making process. 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:
Legislative Subcommittee Session: One Friday during the semester, your team will develop and present a piece of legislation on a pre-selected topic to our “POLS 207 Mini-Congress.” As with a real legislative body, you will have a short amount of time to present your views. Because legistaors have lots of bills to consider, they rely heavily on “bill summaries” that include the following components: general information, fiscal impact, and narrative (detailed analysis that includes arguments for or against the bill). Here is an example of an analysis for the Michigan Legislature and one from the Florida House of Representatives (where I used to work)
After your brief presentation, you will lead a class discussion on the merits of the legislation and the efficacy of its passage. The class will be responsible for offering “mark up” language designed to improve passage of the legislation. In addition, your will write a 5-7 page “bill analysis” that summarizes the legislation and discusses the pros and cons of its adoption. In practice, bill analyses can be quite large and involved. Because if this, I’m asking you to work in teams of four or five. Each of you will be responsible for The questions and responses will be graded based on their thoughtfulness and clarity. The class discussion assignment will be worth 10 points.
Legislative Subcommittee Session and Bill Analysis = 20 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 20 points = 40 points
Legislation Assignment: During the final week of class, you will present a “final bill” to the full legislative body. This will require you to incorporate the mark up language (if you find it appropriate) and present again on the pros and cons of the legislation. You will in addition, turn in a revised “bill analysis” that more explicitly describes the consequences of passing your proposed legislation.
Legislation Assignment = 30 points
Legislative Subcommittee Presentation = 20 points
Google+ Participation = 10 points
Exams – 20 points X 2 exams = 40 points
Legislation Assignment = 30 points
Stone, D. Policy Paradox. WW Norton Press.
All Other Readings Accessible On-Line.
Schedule of Readings
Week 1: Introduction
Sept 3: Introduction to the Course
Sept 5: What are Policy Conflicts? Slides
Stone Chapter 1: The Market and the Polis
Create a Google+ account - Go to your Gmail, there will be a “name”+ tab in the upper right hand corner... click it and follow the directions on how to create an account.
Week 2: Value Conflicts Slides
Sept 8: What is "Good Policy?"
Sept 10: Defining Equity Slides
Stone Chapter 2: Equity
Sept 12: What is Equitable? Slides
Send me by e-mail the answer to this statement: I am the class “go to” person/resource/expert on __________ because of (your credentials, experiences, study) __________________________
Week 3: Efficiency and Welfare
Sept 15: What is an efficient outcome?
Stone Chapter 3: Efficiency
Sept 17: What is an efficient outcome?
Week 4: Welfare and Liberty
Sept 19: What is Welfare?
Stone Chapter 4: Welfare
Sept 22: What is Welfare?
Sept 24: What is Security?
Stone: Chapter 6
Sept 26: What is a Secure Outcome? Slides
Sept 29: What is Liberty?
Stone Chapter 5
Oct 1: What is Liberty?
This is a decent tutorial video that teaches you the basics of Google Hangouts.
Week 5: Framing Introductory Meeting in your subcommittees for 1 hour
someone is required to take notes and videotape via Google Hangout
Oct 6: Symbols Slides
Stone Chapter 7: Symbols
Oct 8: Frames and Heuristics Slides
Oct 10: Fall Holiday
Oct 13: Symbols and the Brain Sildes
Oct 15: (In class presentation from subcommittee)
Oct 17: No Class
Week 7: Uses of Data Meet in your subcommittees for 1 hour
someone is required to take notes and record via Google Hangout
Oct 20: Presentation day #2
Oct 22: Policy and Numbers
Stone Chapter 8
Oct 24: Review for Exam #1
Week 8: Causal Stories
Oct 27: Exam #1
Oct 29: Causal Stories in Politics
Stone Chapter 9: Causal Stories Slides
Oct 31: Presentation day #3 (Student LIfe 1)
Week 9: Coalition Building
Nov 3: Presentation day #4 (Student Life #2)
Nov 5: Presentation day #5 (Social Action)
Nov 7: Interests Slides
Stone Chapter 10: Interests
Week 10: Policy Opportunities Meet in your subcommittees for 1 hour
someone is required to take notes and record in Google Hangout
Nov 12: Interests and Politics (5-7 page bill analysis due)
Nov 14: Decisions
Stone Chapter 11: Decisions Slide
Week 11: Inducements
Nov 17: Inducements
Stone Chapter 12: Inducements
Nov 19: Inducements
Week 12: Rules
Nov 21: Inducements (Meet in Preuss Brandt Fourm - by the Library for Jeffrey Stout Talk)
Nov 24: Rules
Stone Chapter 13: Rules
Nov 26-30: Thanksgiving Break
Week 13: Facts
Dec 1 - Facts
Stone Chapter 14: Facts
Dec 3: Rights
Stone Chapter 15: Rights
Week 14: Rights and Powers
Dec 5: Powers Slides
Stone Chapter 16: Powers
Dec 10: Exam #2
Dec 12: Final Presentations
Dec 15: Final Presentations
Decisions - Cont.
General Additional Readings
Policy Reading List
Debt the first 5000 years
The Social Economy
There’s a boston review symposium with it
Wealth of members
Democracy is dead
Most Unequal City
October 3, 2011 by William Hogeland
Yes, reading. Might help with attempting coherence, distinguishing between a grievance and a demand, stuff like that. Call me a patronizing elitist — you won’t get any argument from me! — but in a world where sincerity is equated with the inarticulate and cogency is supposedly only a telltale sign of privilege and hierarchy, these readings show that sounding authoritative does not equal selling out to authority.
The Putney Debates. 1647. Rank and file in Cromwell’s Army believed they deserved the vote. Cromwell disagreed. The “Levellers” lost — but this is one of the first articulate demands for disconnecting rights from property.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail. 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., argues for the validity of taking direct action in the street, not just waiting for courts to catch up.
The Port Huron Statement. 1962. In a time not of recession but of immense prosperity, students who had benefited from that very prosperity questioned its basis and demanded a renewal of American political values, at home and around the world. Prescient or self-fulfilling or both? Anyway, at once passionate and crystal clear.
The Populist Party Platform. 1892. “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists.”
Common Sense. 1776. Paine’s call not only for American independence but also, and more importantly — and this is the part routinely and deliberately ignored or marginalized by liberal “consensus” historians — for social equality, in a new kind of American republic.
Dec 6: Powers
Dec 9: Powers