PUBPL 304: Public Policy Analysis

Download my Fall 2017 Syllabus

Course Description

What is more important, clean water or jobs? Should a policy maximize effectiveness or efficiency? Is is possible to balance these things? This course examines the struggle over competing values and ideas during the policy making process. It explores how the selection and definition of policy goals (i.e., equity, efficiency, welfare, liberty, and security), problem definitions, and solutions shape our evaluation of public policy. Furthermore, the course will help students build skills in conducting their own analysis of pressing public problems through a series of skill workshops. Finally, students will apply what they have learned to presenting an analysis of policy problem of personal interest. Sprinkled throughout the course, students will engage in discussing contemporary policy debates, including mass incarceration, the opioid crisis, immigration, climate change, and more.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Goals

Week 3: Goals

  • September 4: Labor Day
    • No class
  • September 6: Welfare (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 4
  • September 8: Welfare part 2
    • Stone chapter 4
    • Log policy choice on Canvas

Week 4: Problems

Week 5: Problems

  • September 18: Symbols and Numbers (Slides)
    • Stone chapters 7 and 8
  • September 20: Causes (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 9
  • September 22: Skill Workshop: Searching for Primary Sources (Slides)
    • Bring a laptop or smart phone to class

Week 6: Problems

  • September 25: Interests (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 10
  • September 27: Decisions (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 11
  • September 29: Skill Workshop: How to Evaluate Research (Slides)

Week 7: Solutions

  • October 2: Decisions (Slides)
    • Stone chapters 11
  • October 4: Incentives and Rules (Slides)
    • Stone chapters 12 and 13
  • October 6: Skill Workshop: Identifying Bias in Statistics and Figures (Slides) (Homework)

Week 8: Solutions

  • October 9: Facts (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 14
  • October 11: Rights (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 15
  • October 13: Skill Workshop: Avoiding Plagiarism
    • Reminder: We will not meet in the classroom
    • Complete the Penn State Plagiarism Tutorial
    • Upload a screenshot of your completion documentation to Canvas

Week 9: Connections

  • October 16: Powers (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 16
  • October 18: Application (Slides)
    • Stone chapter 17
  • October 20: Skill Workshop: Analysis Process
    • Kraft and Furlong. Chapter 4. (see Canvas)

Week 10: Mass Incarceration

Week 11: Environment

Week 12: Healthcare

Week 13: Immigration

Week 14: Legislative Hearings

  • November 27: Hearings TBD
  • November 29: Hearings TBD
  • December 1: Hearings TBD

Week 15: Policy Briefings

  • December 4: Hearings TBD
  • December 6: Hearings TBD
  • December 8: Hearings TBD

Week 16: Finals Week

  • Wednesday December 13
    • Policy brief paper due via Canvas dropbox by 5:00 pm
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