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.
Week 1: Introduction
- August 21: Introduction to the class and each other (Slides)
- August 23: The Policy Process (Slides)
- Kraft, Michael E. and Scott R. Furlong. 2015. Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives. Fifth Edition. Chapter 3, pgs. 84-100. (See Canvas)
- Cairney, Paul. 2016. “The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking.” The Guardian. March 10.
- August 25: The Market and the Polis
- Stone chapter 1 (see Canvas)
Week 2: Goals
- August 28: Equity
- Stone chapter 2
- August 30: Efficiency
- Stone chapter 3
- September 1: Skills Workshop: Critical Thinking
Week 3: Goals
- September 4: Labor Day
- No class
- September 6: Welfare
- Stone chapter 4
- September 8: Liberty and Security
- Stone chapters 5 and 6
- Log policy choice on Canvas
Week 4: Problems
- September 11: Problems
- Stone chapter 7
- September 13: Numbers
- Stone chapter 8
- September 15: Skill Workshop: Logic
Week 5: Problems
- September 18: Causes
- Stone chapter 9
- September 20: Interests
- Stone chapter 10
- September 22: Skill Workshop: Searing for Primary Sources
- Bring a laptop or smart phone to class
Week 6: Problems and Solutions
- September 25: Decisions
- Stone chapter 11
- September 27: Incentives
- Stone chapter 12
- September 29: Skill Workshop: How to Evaluate Research
- Litman, Todd. 2012. Evaluating Research Quality. Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Week 7: Solutions
- October 2: Rules
- Stone chapter 13
- October 4: Facts
- Stone chapter 14
- October 6: Skill Workshop: Identifying Bias in Statistics and Figures
- Huff, Darrell. 1954. How to Lie with Statistics. Chapters 1 and 5. (see Canvas).
Week 8: Solutions
- October 9: Rights
- Stone chapter 15
- October 11: Powers
- Stone chapter 16
- 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: Pulling it all together
- Stone chapter 17
- October 18: Application
- October 20: Skill Workshop: Analysis Process
- Kraft and Furlong. Chapter 4. (see Canvas)
Week 10: Mass Incarceration
- October 23: General Background
- Mallinson, Daniel J. 2017. “The Color of Mass Incarceration.” In Race in America: How a Pseudo-Scientific Concept Shaped Human Interaction, ed Patricia Reid-Merritt. ABC-CLIO. (see Canvas).
- Pinton, Nick. 2015. “Why Can’t We End Mass Incarceration?” Rolling Stone. October 26.
- October 25: Opioids and Reform
- Leap, Amy. 2016. “Pennsylvania Opioid Addiction Statistics are Staggering.” Pocono Record. September 23.
- Kourkounis, Jessica. 2017. “Behind the Headlines: Pennsylvania’s Opioid Epidemic Up Close.” WPSU. May 18.
- Silver, Drew. 2014. “Feds may be rethinking the drug war, but states have been leading the way.” Pew Research Center. April 2.
- Seele, Katherine O. 2015. “In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs.” The New York Times. October 30.
- October 27: Skill Workshop: Annotated Bibliography
Week 11: Environment
- October 30: Fracking: New York
- Graves, Lucia. 2016. “On the Faultine: New York Fracking Ban Leaves State Divided as Primary Looms.” The Guardian. April 16.
- Clemente, Jude. 2015. “Why New York’s Fracking Ban is Unsustainable.” Forbes. June 7.
- November 1: Skill Workshop: Writing an Effective Brief
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Preparing Policy Briefs.
- November 3: Fracking: Pennsylvania
- Guest Lecturer: Michael J. Passiment (BS `09, MPA `12). Budget Analyst. Committee on Appropriations. PA House of Representatives.
Week 12: Healthcare
- November 6: Federal Reform
- Levey, Noam N. and Kyle Kim. 2017. “A Side-by-Side Comparison of Obamacare and the GOP’s Replacement Plans.” Los Angeles Times. March 8 (Updated July 13).
- November 8: State Actions
- NCSL. 2017. “State Laws and Actions Challenging Certain Health Reforms.” March 25.
- Hederman, Rea. 2017. “Ohio is Blazing the Trail on Healthcare Reform.” The Hill. June 28.
- November 10: Skill Workshop: Effective Presentations
- Keinkauf, Cecilia. 1981. “A Guide to Giving Legislative Testimony.” Social Work 26(4): 297-303.
Week 13: Immigration
- November 13: The Federal Government
- November 15: State and Local Governments
- Amdur, Spencer. 2014. “How Local Governments are Hacking Immigration Reform.” The Atlantic. May 13.
- Lee, Jasmine C., Rudy Omri, and Julia Preston. 2017. “What are Sanctuary Cities?” The New York Times. Updated February 6.
- Verbruggen, Robert. 2017. “Do We Hate Sanctuary Cities More Than We Like Federalism?” The National Review. August 9.
- November 17: Skill Workshop: TBD
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