POLSC431: Public Policy Process

Course Syllabus for "POLSC431: Public Policy Process"

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The study of public policy is intended to offer every citizen an understanding of the various and vast roles played by the different branches of the U.S. federal government as well as by state, county, and local governments in various areas of contemporary American life.  It is also a field that focuses on the priorities of American society as portrayed in the public policy choices that elected representatives make on the part of citizens and the size of different interest groups that advocate on behalf of particular policy goals.  This course looks at the process of making public policy from beginning to end and in a wide array of particular policy areas that are of importance to contemporary American society.  Moreover, because the process of public policymaking is best explored by examining particular instances of public debate over a wide array of specific policy areas, this course will adopt a case study approach to explore particular topics. Unit 1 will introduce this case study approach as well various actors involved in the making of American public policy and the process of setting the public policy agenda.  Unit 2 explores the process of public policy formulation be examining a variety of case studies, including energy and fuel economy policy.  Unit 3 examines the implementation of public policies once they have been agreed upon, the allocating of funding to pay for these projects through the budgetary process, and the evaluation of these projects to determine their effectiveness in achieving the goals they were established to advance.  Unit 4 explores various areas of American economic policy, while Unit 5 looks at several topics of interest in the field of national security policy.  Unit 6 examines various issues in contemporary American public health policy, while Unit 7 explores the public policy responses of the U.S. government to a number of environmental concerns.  Unit 8 looks at several topics of interest within the broader field of education policy, while Unit 9 focuses on aspects of public policy that impact rural communities.  Unit 10 concludes this course by exploring several areas of ongoing debate within American social policy, including immigration reform, civil rights legislation, and the criminal justice system.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss and identify various key concepts in the process of American public policymaking and the major steps from start to finish in the public policy process.
  • Identify vital issues and specific areas of concern for contemporary American policymakers within the broad fields of economic, national security, public health, environmental, education, rural, and social policy.
  • Identify key actors and agencies involved in the making of public policy within the United States and their respective roles in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policy.
  • Analyze the various political, social, economic, military, legal, and ethical goals and cultural values that form the basis of policymaking decisions.
  • Identify key debates in contemporary American public policy as well as the issues at stake and the arguments advanced by each side of the debate.
  • Describe various decision frameworks used by policymakers in creating, developing, and executing various public policies.
  • Explain  the context, evolution, and linkages of specific policies and between certain polices within the broader context of American political history.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash)

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt., .xls, etc.)

√    Have competency in the English language

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed POLSC231: Introduction to American Politics

Course Information

Welcome to POLSC431: Public Policy Process.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Levi Fox

Primary Resources:  This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Although all of the units will allow you to gain a foundational understanding of the public policy process, pay close attention to Unit 1, as it will lay the historical framework for future units.  You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assignments listed above.  In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 78.75 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 14 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2 (a total of 9 hours) in week one; subunit 1.3 (a total of 5 hours) on Monday and Tuesday night of week two, etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.