PSCI 2101: Introduction to Public Policy Professor Kenneth Bickers 11:00 am-12:15 pm TR in HUMN 1B90 Spring 2006-07 Office: Ketchum Hall 131A Office Hours: 9:00-10:30 T, 1:30-2:45 W, and by appt. Telephone: (303) 492-2363 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Course Description This course is an introduction to the analysis of public policies. This course utilizes the political economy approach to policy analysis, which explores the ways that individual values and preferences get translated into collective processes and outcomes. This approach is directly related to debates about the meaning and operation of democratic systems; it is centrally concerned with how collective enterprises – from neighborhoods to nations – operate; and it treats governments, nonprofit organizations, and markets as sometimes competing and sometimes complementary instruments by which groups of individuals make collective choices. During the semester, we will consider the components of public policies and how these are related to the kinds of politics that often surround policy debates. We will ask questions about governments and markets. We will examine the role of bureaucracies, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit firms in implementing policies in the United States. We will overview techniques for evaluating and analyzing public policies. Each week, we will build on core concepts of policy analysis to delve more deeply into current debates over major public policies. In particular, groups of students will take the lead each week for engaging in a formal debate of policy questions that highlight one or more aspects of the material for that week. In each of these debates, the policies are complex, involving substantial roles for the federal, state, and local governments, market forces, and individual decision-makers. This course is designed as an introduction to the analysis of public policy problems and proposed solutions. It is not an introduction to political science or American politics. You will be assumed already to have a strong working knowledge about the U.S. political system, obtained, for example, through PSCI 1101 or some other introductory course in American government. Course Requirements The format of the course will be a combination of lecture, class room discussion, and group debates. Class sessions will be kept sufficiently informal that questions and discussions can be entertained. The grade for the course will be determined on the basis of four exams, a variety of in-class assignments, group debates, and a short paper that pertains to the group debates. Exams. Each of the exams will be comprised of twenty to twenty-five multiple choice items. Questions on exams will cover readings and lecture material. Exams will be non-cumulative. In-Class Assignments. In-class assignments will include a number of short memos and responses to readings, group debates, and lecture material. They are designed to give you an Introduction to Public Policy, page 2 opportunity to think carefully about issues central to the analysis of public policies – issues which you are likely to encounter on an exam. These assignments will be announced during the class period in which they are assigned, and will be graded using a dichotomous scale of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. A satisfactory grade means that the assignment was seriously attempted. Not being present for an assignment will produce an automatic grade of unsatisfactory. With the exception of absences that have been excused (such as for a university sponsored athletic event, or a documented illness), in-class assignments cannot be made-up. In cases of excusable absences, in-class assignments must be made-up within a week after the excused absence. Group Activities. Each student in the class will be expected to participate in a small group that will engage in two activities. The first is a group debate. Each week, beginning in the third week of the semester, two groups of students will debate a question that is designed to elicit a greater understanding of the core concepts being presented that week. Each group will be comprised of two to three students. One group will take the “pro” side of the question and the other group will take the “con” side. A drawing will be held during the second week of the semester to determine the composition of the groups, as well as the question the group will be debating, and whether the group will take the “pro” or “con” side of the question. Groups should do careful research on both sides of the debate question and think carefully about what aspects of the issue should be emphasized during the debate presentation. Each group in the debate will receive a grade based on the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the debate presentations. The format of the debate will be as follows. There will be three rounds. Each time, the “pro” group will go first, followed by a response from the “con” group. In the first round, each side will have seven minutes; in the second round, each group will have two minutes; in the third round, each side will have one minute to respond. The class will then have a few minutes to ask questions of the two groups. Presentation times should be apportioned approximately equally across the students in each group. Additionally, each student in the group must be the primary presenter for at least one round during the debate. The debate will end with a class vote to determine the winner of the debate. The second group activity is a short paper that is based on the debate, taking seriously in a thoughtful way the arguments that were adduced by the group from the other side of the debate. Each paper should address the following three questions: First, if your side of the debate were to prevail, what do you see as the benefits to society that would be produced and why? Second, if your side of the debate were to prevail, what losses to society would occur and why? That is, you should consider the cost (not just financially, but in other ways, too) of “winning” the debate. Third, based on this discussion of benefits and costs, what policy outcome would you now recommend and why? These papers should be six to eight pages in length (double-spaced, using a ten or twelve point font), excluding a cover page, and will be graded for substantive content, clarity, and grammatical precision. Papers will be submitted by each group. Papers are due exactly one week after the class session in which the debate was held. For each paper, each student in the group will be given a form on which the student is to estimate the percentage of the work-load that each member of the group contributed to the paper and to describe the division of labor within the group. In cases, where the percentages assigned are approximately equal, the same grade will be given to each member of the group. In cases, where Introduction to Public Policy, page 3 percentages diverge by non-trivial amounts, students will be asked to come in for a conference with the instructor and the grades may be adjusted so as to deal with the problem of free-riding by members of the group. Papers will be penalized one full grade if they are not turned in at the beginning of the class on the date they are due. A full letter grade reduction will be taken for each three days that go by until the paper is turned in. Grade. The overall grade for the course will be determined as follows: Exams (18% each x 4) In-class assignments Group paper Group debates Subtotal Total 72% 10% 12% 6% 100% Policies. A word about my grading policy: No matter how careful, instructors and graduate assistants sometimes make mistakes in grading. For that reason, I have an automatic regrade policy, subject to a couple of restrictions. I will be happy to regrade any exam or paper. I ask, however, that you hold on to any item for at least 24 hours after it is returned to you before asking for a regrade. Any request for a regrade must be made within one week after the exam is returned to you, after which no regrading will be done. Should you feel that an assignment has been misgraded, I encourage you to take advantage of this policy. Ordinarily, the entire exam or paper will be regraded, which means that the grade may go up, go down, or stay the same. Also, please be aware that cheating or plagiarism, of any sort, will lead to an automatic grade of zero on the item in question. I strongly encourage you to review the University’s policies with respect to academic integrity. In sum, the University position is that its reputation depends on maintaining the highest standards of intellectual honesty. Commitment to those standards is the responsibility of every student, faculty, and staff member on this campus. Consequently, cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. Cheating is defined as using unauthorized materials or receiving unauthorized assistance during an examination or other academic exercise. Plagiarism is defined as the use of another’s ideas or words without appropriate acknowledgment. Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to, the following: failing to use quotation marks when directly quoting from a source; failing to document distinctive ideas from a source; fabricating or inventing sources; and copying information from computer-based sources, i.e., the Internet. For additional information on the academic integrity policies of the University, see http://www.colorado.edu/policies/acadinteg.html. For exams (or any other aspect of the course), you should be aware of the University’s Disability Services. If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs may be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities (303-492-8671, Willard 322, www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices). Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to reasonably and fairly deal with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. If you need an accommodation of any scheduled activity due to a conflict with a religious holiday or observance, please let me Introduction to Public Policy, page 4 know in writing of the conflict during the first two weeks of the semester. I will be happy to work out a suitable accommodation. This course tackles subjects that are sometimes viewed as controversial. It is incumbent on every participant in the class (instructor and students alike) to strive to maintain an environment that is conducive to learning. We should always remember that people bring differences with them into the classroom and that these differences must be respected. It is imperative that each of us maintain civility when asking questions and making comments. Likewise, questions and comments by others should be treated with civility at all times. Course Materials Two books have been ordered for use in this course: Kenneth N. Bickers and John T. Williams. Public Policy Analysis: A Political Economy Approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Selections from the CQ Researcher. Issues for Debate in American Public Policy, 7th Ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2007. Note: Other than wear and tear, there are no differences between used and new copies of the book by Bickers and Williams. Plenty of used copies of the book are available at bookstores and from websites. You are encouraged to buy a used copy of the book. Royalties from any new book sales will be donated to charity through the Colorado Combined Campaign. Course Outline Week 1: January 16 & 18 Topics: Overview of public policy analysis Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 1 Case: “Avian Flu Threat,” Issues for Debate, chapter 4 Week 2: January 23 & 25 Topics: Democratic Governance Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 2 Case: “No Child Left Behind,” Issues for Debate, chapter 2 Week 3: January 30 & February 1 Topics: Forms of Democracy and Implications for Public Policy Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 3 Case: “Death Penalty Controversies,” Issues for Debate, chapter 10 Debate – Group A (pro) & B (con): Should the legality of the death penalty be put to a vote in state referenda? Introduction to Public Policy, page 5 Week 4: February 6 & 8 Topics: Forms of Democracy and Implications for Public Policy (continued) Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 3 (continued) Case: “Direct Democracy and Minority Rights,” by Todd Donovan and Shaun Bowler. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 42, No. 3. (Jul., 1998), pp. 10201024, available at www.jstor.org. Debate – Group C (pro) & D (con): Should the right to engage in same-sex marriage be decided by judges? Exam 1: Thursday, February 8 Week 5: February 13 & 15 Topics: The Problem of Collective Action Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 4 Case: “Climate Change,” Issues for Debate, chapter 9 Debate – Group E (pro) & F (con): Should all countries be compelled to abide by climate change treaties (e.g., Kyoto), even if those countries do not want to do so? Week 6: February 20 & 22 Topics: Government and Collective Action Problems Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 5 Case: “Evaluating Head Start,” Issues for Debate, chapter 1 Debate – Group G (pro) & H (con): Should states be given Head Start money and discretion to adopt pre-school enrichment programs that best address needs within the states? Week 7: February 27 & March 1 Topics: The Market as a Collective Action Mechanism Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 6 Case: “Birth-Control Debate,” Issues for Debate, chapter 6 Debate – Group I (pro) & J (con): Should health clinics be compelled by law to provide Plan B Emergency Contraception pills? Week 8: March 6 & 8 Topics: The Market as a Collective Action Mechanism (continued) Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 6 (continued) Case: “Pension Crisis,” Issues for Debate, chapter 12 Debate – Group K (pro) & L (con): Should the federal government provide a bailout fund to protect workers against the failure of corporate pension systems? Exam 2: Thursday, March 8 Introduction to Public Policy, page 6 Week 9: March 13 & 15 Topics: Limitations of the Market Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 7 Case: “Drug Safety,” Issues for Debate, chapter 3 Debate – Group M (pro) & N (con): Should the FDA be abolished, with the court system handling questions of drug safety through the mechanism of law suits by parties alleging injuries? Week 10: March 20 & 22 Topics: Policy Analysis in the American Political Context Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 8 Case: “Rebuilding New Orleans,” Issues for Debate, chapter 13 Debate – Group O (pro) & P (con): Should the government and citizens of the city of New Orleans bear the whole financial burden of rebuilding the city’s infrastructure? Week 11: April 5 & 7 Topics: Politics and Policy Choice Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 9 Case: “Upward Mobility,” Issues for Debate, chapter 5 Debate – Group Q (pro) & R (con): Should college students, as the primary beneficiaries of higher education, be expected to pay the lion’s share of the costs of providing that education? Week 12: April 10 & 12 Topics: Bureaucratic Implementation Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 10 Case: “Disaster Preparedness,” Issues for Debate, chapter 14 Exam 3: Tuesday, April 10 Week 13: April 17 & 19 Topics: Bureaucratic Implementation (continued) Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 10 (continued) Case: “Disaster Preparedness,” Issues for Debate, chapter 14 (continued) Debate – Group S (pro) & T (con): Should a new federal agency be created to implement a federal disaster preparedness plan throughout the country? Introduction to Public Policy, page 7 Week 14: April 24 & 26 Topics: Analyzing Proposed Policies Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 11 Case: “Minimum Wage,” Issues for Debate, chapter 7 Debate – Group U (pro) & V (con): Should the federal minimum wage law be adjustable (either up or down) to compensate for variations in the cost of living across different states? Week 15: May 1 & 3 Topics: Evaluating Existing Policies Text: Bickers & Williams, chapter 12 Case: “Illegal Immigration,” Issues for Debate, chapter 14 Debate – Group W (pro) & X (con): Should states be given the authority to crackdown on employers that hire illegal immigrants? Final (Exam 4): Saturday, May 5, 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.