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PSC 308: Public Organizations and Policy

Revised 20 Jan. 2015 by Dr. Jeremy Lewis.


Catalog Description
Examination of the institutions, policies and processes of the US executive, including decision making, with case studies of bureaus and policy programs at the federal, state and local levels. Analysis of the influences of interests, culture, congress and the courts.
Course Objectives
  1. To further develop analysis of public organizations and policy, introduced in PSC 201 and 212
  2. To help prepare students for masters programs in public administration or policy
  3. To help prepare students for jobs in public administration or policy
Student Learning Objectives
  1. Develop knowledge of the principles and institutions of US public organizations
  2. Engage in critical thinking about US public organizations
  3. Be familiar with theory and practice of the public policy process
  4. Analyze the influence of interests and institutions upon public policy
  5. Engage in comparisons with public policies and organizations of other developed states
Expected Outcomes
  1. Competent exam essays on the principles and institutions of US public organizations
  2. Critical discussion of US public organizations
  3. Competent exam essays on the theory and practice of the public policy process
  4. Critical discussion of the comparative influence of interests and institutions upon public policy
  5. A competent research paper on some aspect of the term's material (judged in descending order of importance, by content, research, organization & writing)
  6. A competent oral briefing of this research (judged by content, audiovisual illustration, speaking, and organization of the briefing)
Books
For latest information, see the Booklist page.

Stillman, Richard J., ed. Public Administration: Concepts and Cases. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Selected case studies will be testable.

Dye, Thomas R. Understanding Public Policy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Nivola & Rosenbloom (eds) Classic Readings in American Politics. St. Martins [required sections on bureaucracy and public policymaking)

Academic requirements
For the current formal requirements, latest course grading formula, and deliverable documents, see the Requirements page.  For the current due dates of tests, paper, exam and presentations see the Dates page. For the current weekly readings and topics of discussion, see the Timetable page for this course (or simply click the PSC course code in the heading of this page.) For the instructor's most recent office hours, click the availability page here.
Discussion
This course will examine the characteristics and changing role of the American administrative system in the policy process. We will ask why some agencies are more powerful than others, why agencies never seem to disappear, and why they grow over time. We will illustrate the historical growth of bureaus and the autonomy of bureaus from their parent departments. We will consider bureaucratic subcultures and pathologies. In particular we will examine how bureaus engage in interaction with other government agencies, interest groups, congressional staff and committees, courts, political parties, the mass media & public opinion. We will explore the existence of iron triangles and issue networks, and seek to evaluate organization theories.

Just as we examine classic readings in public organization theory and major case studies, we will apply theories of policymaking to case studies. We will explore selected domestic policy programs considered, enacted, funded and put into effect by government institutions. These policy areas may include health care, criminal justice, education and other selections of current topicality.

We shall engage with a comparative perspective the contrasting policies in western Europe. This course should help prepare us for master's programs in public administration and policy, as well as political science and law.

Behavior
You are expected to comply with the HC Honor Code [read College's statement, August 2009, of procedure for violations] and with specific rules of decorum placed on our Requirements page.  You are also expected to comply with Huntingdon College's Code of Classroom Conduct, August 2009.

My Attendance Policy [read latest details on Requirements page]

While school sanctioned excuses will not count against you, absences reduce your potential contribution to class, and absences in excess of four contact hours will reduce your class participation score.
My specific policy on late completion of in-class work [read latest details on Requirements page]
Late completion of tests or other graded exercises in class will only be permitted in cases with documented, prior notification and documented excuses from a coach, medical doctor or similar authority.
My Class Participation Policy [read latest details on Requirements page]

HC's Accommodation of Special Needs
Faculty at Huntingdon College make every effort to accommodate unique and special needs of students with respect to speech, hearing, vision, seating, or other possible adaptions.  Please notify the Disability Services Intake Coordinator, Ms. Camilla Irvin,  as soon as possible of requested accommodations.