capstone: governance under crisis conditions

Political Science 4093, Sec. 001
Spring 2013
Instructor: Cindy Simon Rosenthal : PH: 325-5372
GTA: Victoria Rickard, PH: 517-918-4387
Class Schedule: 3-4:15 (M.W), MONNET HALL Rm.101
Office Hours: CSR: Mon.& Weds., 4:30 to 5 p.m. or by appt. VR:T & TH, 1 -2 p.m.
Course Description:
This course will explore the fundamental question: Can government govern? The U.S. republic, which is built
on checks and balances, divided power, and federalism, often frustrates governance, particularly in times of
crisis, emergencies or in the face of huge public policy challenges. For example, big and complex issues
such as climate change, fiscal sustainability, and long-term infrastructure needs go unaddressed due to
partisan polarization. Policy avoidance can create the conditions for future crises. Acts of terrorism or natural
disasters require elected officials, public administrators and the non-profit sector to respond quickly,
compassionately and generously, but political, fiscal and bureaucratic constraints present significant
challenges. Crisis lays bare the best of government as well as its worst flaws, and governmental failure
undermines the short-term and long-term legitimacy of public institutions.
Using the city as our level of analysis, we will explore the challenges facing intergovernmental partners in
times of stress and crisis. Employing the tools of political and policy analysis, students will consider the three
distinct dimensions of governmental performance – 1) problem identification, risk analysis and policy
formulation, 2) crisis management and implementation, and 3) the political consequences and policy learning
from actions and inaction. The course will be conducted in a seminar format with students expected to be
active participants in discussion of the readings and assigned topics. The course will also feature individual
assignments and group projects that extend our understanding of the assigned texts beyond the classroom. A
simulation will engage the class in planning for, experiencing and then evaluating crisis management.
Course objectives:
Over the course of the semester, students will:
Discuss and apply important theoretical perspectives useful for analysis of crisis situations;
Participate in all aspects of a crisis simulation -- planning, response, and evaluation.
Develop experience in policy and risk analysis techniques;
Integrate the structural, social and political imperatives which complicate
governmental performance to emergencies and big policy problems.
Klinenberg, Eric (2002) Heat Wave: The Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Russell, James S.2011, The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change,
Washington DC, Island Press.
Birkland, Thomas A.;, 2007, Lessons of Disaster: Policy Change after Catastrophic Events, Georgetown
University Press
Readings from Sooner Copy are indicated on the syllabus with SCR, and readings available online are noted
Students should regularly read news coverage and analysis of disaster-related topics (e.g. FEMA, Sandy
recovery efforts, public health risks, storms, fires, terrorism, financial crisis, etc.) Each class period will start
with a brief presentation by a student on breaking news. At least once during the semester, each student
will be expected to present a news article or commentary, pose questions to the class, and lead discussion
over the assigned readings.
The course combines individual and group activities. There will be a class simulation for which individual and
group preparation are critical components. Briefly these assignments include:
Two small group presentations revolving around: (1) a high risk technology using Charles Perrow’s
Normal Accidents as a theoretical framework and (2) using the case studies presented in Thomas
Birkland’s Lessons of Disaster.
From Perrow, possible topics include: Exploration and extraction of
off-shore oil and gas resources, hazardous materials transport technologies, building technologies for
geologically hazardous areas, power grid technology risks, public health risks in 21st century urban
settings, or similar topic.
Current events presentation, seminar leadership and class participation. Each student will lead the
seminar on one occasion. Your role will involve giving highlights of one of the readings for the week,
relating them to current or recent event, and then leading seminar discussion of those topics.
Two analytical writing assignments on: (a) an analytical policy memo on a particular public policy
including a critique of its strengths, shortcomings, and long-term vulnerabilities, and (b) a risk
assessment or scenario analysis of a major Oklahoma infrastructure challenge that poses a potential
future crisis and how it is currently being addressed or needs to be addressed. Each paper is
expected to be approximately 2000-2500 words in length (6-7 pages).
Preparation of a portfolio of materials for the simulation. This portfolio will generally be submitted
electronically at the end of the semester, and will contain the following elements: 1) an annotated
bibliography of your research in preparation of the simulation, 2) a two-page analytical description of
your role and agency, 3) a two-page synthesis of major risks to infrastructure relevant to your
agency and simulation role, 4) a two-page synopsis of major intergovernmental relationships and
constraints that convey the organizational context surrounding your simulation role, and 5) a onepage evaluation of the simulation.
A final exam.
Class participation is a critical element of your grade, and you will be evaluated upon the quality not the
quantity of your contribution. That does not mean that you have to say something about everything, but
rather that you come to class prepared, you ask good questions about the material, and you offer and defend
your own insights and opinions. The expected weights for grading are:
Class Leadership and Participation: 10%
Final Examination: 30%
Two Writing Assignments: 40% (each short paper is worth 20% of your total grade)
Simulation & Portfolio: 20%
Participation in class discussion is a critical part of the course. Attendance will be taken on a daily basis.
If you are absent without an excuse for more than one-fourth of the classes, you will be penalized one full
letter on your final grade. If you miss more than half of the classes, you will be penalized two full letter
grades (e.g. from an A to a C or a B to a D.)
Policy on Withdrawals and Incompletes:
After February 22 (the last day to drop a class without instructor permission), you may drop the course with
a W only if you have a passing grade. A passing grade is defined as having earned 60 percent of the total
possible number of points at the time of your request to withdraw. If you are ill or have some personal
situation that prevents you from attending class, you are responsible for contacting me at the earliest possible
time to discuss your situation and to make alternative arrangements. Incompletes will only be given upon
request and for good cause. If an incomplete is given, the student will be asked to sign an agreement
specifying the work to be completed and the date the work will be due.
Policy on Physically Challenged Persons:
Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or
her abilities should contact me as soon as possible so that we can discuss accommodations necessary to
ensure full participation and to facilitate your educational opportunity.
Plagiarism is academic misconduct and can result in disciplinary procedures that include expulsion from the
university. Plagiarism means presenting someone else's ideas or writing (published or unpublished) as your
own. There are four different kinds, all prohibited by the Academic Misconduct Code.
Copying without citation. It is the worst form of plagiarism to copy part or all of a paper from the
Internet, from a book or magazine, or from another source without indicating in any way that the words are
someone else's. To avoid this form of plagiarism, the paper must both place the quoted material in quotation
marks and use one of the standard forms of documentation (e.g. American Psychological Association,
Modern Language Association, etc.) to indicate where the words come from.
Misappropriation of specific wording. It is also plagiarism to copy writing from elsewhere, cite the
source, but fail to show (by the use of quotation marks, for example) that the words are a direct quotation.
Simply documenting the source isn't good enough, because that alone does not indicate that the words
themselves are someone else's. To avoid this form of plagiarism, put all quoted words in quotation marks or
use equivalent punctuation.
Faulty paraphrasing. It is also plagiarism to paraphrase incorrectly. To paraphrase is to put a
lengthy phrase, sentence, or group of sentences written by another into your own words, thereby making it
significantly different from the original. To change a word here and there is not proper paraphrasing, and
though you cite the source (as is always required with paraphrased material), you are using wording that is
substantially that of another and representing it as your own. To avoid this form of plagiarism, either make it
a direct quote, using quotation marks, and cite the source, or paraphrase properly by substantially changing
the original to your own words; again, make sure you cite the source.
Misappropriation of facts and ideas. It is also plagiarism to present arguments, lines of reasoning, or
facts that you have learned from someone else without citing the source, even if you put the material in your
own words. To avoid this form of plagiarism, cite the source.
This course outline is tentative and subject to change. You are responsible for keeping up with changes in
the schedule and due dates.
January 14 - 16 Course Introduction -- Understanding the intergovernmental framework
Sylves: Intergovernmental Relations in Disaster Policy (SCR)
January 23 -- Building frameworks for problem analysis -- the social autopsy of disaster
Readings: Heat Wave, Klinenberg, Prologue through chapter 2.
January 28 - 30 The autopsy understood – thinking about and managing crisis situations
Readings: Heat Wave, chapters 3, 4, 5 and Conclusion
Student leader:
January 30 – Guest Interview: James Fullingim, Fire Chief, City of Norman
February 4 – 6 Decisions, risk analysis, and problem identification
Readings On-Line: Lindblom, “The Science of ‘Muddling Through;” Stone, “Causal Stories” (LEARN)
Readings: Fukyama, Blindside, ch. 9, 10 (SCR)
Student Leaders:
Turn in abstracts for both memos.
February 11 – 13 -- Applying Analytics to Specific Cases
Readings: Kennedy School of Government, “Swine Flu Case” (SCR); Cutter & Barnes, “Three-Mile
Island Evacuation Behavior” (LEARN)
February 13 -- Guest Interview: Albert Ashwood, Director Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency (Invited)
February 18 –20 Normal Accidents: Technology, risks and organizational design
Readings: Normal Accidents, ch. 3 and 9 SCR)
Small group presentations on high risk technologies.
Readings: Perrow, Normal Accidents, ch. 9; (SCR)
First portfolio check: annotated bibliography
February 25--27 Bureaucracy and Organizational Response
Readings: Landau, “Redundancy, Rationality and the Problem of Duplication and Overlap” (LEARN);
Cooper & Block, Diaster, ch. 1-3; Roberts (SCR); “A Tale of Two FEMAs,” Hollis (LEARN);
Derthick, “Where Federalism Didn’t Fail” (LEARN)
Student Leaders:
February 27 -- Guest Interview: Dr. Leslie Cole, Okla. Staff Veterinarian, Department of Agriculture (Invited)
First memo due – Applications of risk analysis to crisis planning policy or regulation history
March 4 – 6 Regulating or Encouraging Risk?
Readings: Platt, Disasters and Democracy, Ch. 1 “Shouldering the Burden: Federal Assumption of
Disaster Costs,” and Ch. 5, “The Takings Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas,” (SCR)
March 6 -- Guest Interview: Ken Morris & Gavin Brady, OK Water Resources Board, Floodplain
Management Program (Invited)
March 11 -13 The Risk of Inaction: The Growing Infrastructure Crisis
Infrastructure readings in the LEARN links tab:
Spring Vacation No Classes March 18 and 20
March 25 -27 Cities and Climate Change: Crisis in the Making?
Readings: Russell, The Agile City, Introduction and Part 1
Student Leaders:
Second Portfolio Check: a two-page analytical description of your role and agency and a two-page
synopsis of major intergovernmental relationships and constraints that convey the organizational
context surrounding your simulation role.
March 27 – Guest Interview: Steve Lewis, Norman City Manager
April 1-3 The Infrastructure of Mobility
Readings: Russell,The Agile City, ch. 4 and Ladd, Autophobia excerpt (SCR)
Student Leaders:
April 8-10 -- Water Infrastructure in an Era of Climate Change
Readings: Russell, The Agile City, ch. 5; LEARN links tab: EPA National Water Strategy (LEARN)
Student Leaders:
April 10 – Guest Interview: Mark Shafer, Oklahoma State Climatologist
Third Portfolio Check: a two-page synthesis of major risks to infrastructure relevant to your agency
and simulation role.
April 15-17 Simulation will take place during this week, details to be announced
April 22-24 Learning from Disaster
Readings: Birkland, ch. 1 and 5
Small Group Presentations: chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5
April 29- May 1 Disaster: Philosophical Questions
Readings: Ahrens, “A Fool’s Errand?” (SCR), and “Liberty, Policy and Natural Disasters,” Skoble,
(SCR); Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan, ch. 4 (SCR).
Student Leaders:
Finals Week Turn in take-home final and completed portfolio by Wednesday, May 8, 5 p.m.
This course outline is tentative and subject to change. You are responsible for keeping up with changes in
the schedule and due dates.