Course Introduction



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MPAL 6320.501 – Leadership and Public Policy

Mondays: 7:05p.m. – 9:45p.m.

Spring 2014
Dr. Robert L. Perry
Office: MB 3230 Office Hours:

Email: perry_r@utpb.edu M,W,F – 10:00a.m.- 11:00a.m.; M 6:30 – 7:00p.m.

Phone: 552-2343 Tu, Th 11:00a.m. – Noon

Fax: 552-3325 (or by appointment)


Course Introduction

This course provides an in-depth study of the processes, theories, and institutions of public policymaking in the United States. Students should come away from this course with the tools and ability to evaluate contemporary public policies.

As you will note in the course outline listed below, the course is divided into two major sections. In the first section, we will examine basic concepts and components of public policymaking. In the second section, we will examine specific public policies (e.g., health care policy, education policy, immigration policy, environmental policy, and national security policy) in light of the concepts learned in the first section of the course. Class meetings during the first section of the course will primarily involve lectures and professor-led discussions. The four class meetings during the second section of the course will involve student presentations of the material, and student-led discussions.
Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:



  • Understand how public policies are identified and specified;

  • Identify the various actors in the policymaking process;

  • Describe the various theories that explain policy formulation;

  • Distinguish how alternatives for dealing with policy problems are developed;

  • Explain how government policies are implemented

  • Understand how government policies are formally evaluated

  • Identify and explain the major issues and controversies within healthcare, education, environmental, and immigration policies


Required Texts:

(1) Anderson, James E. (2003) Public Policymaking. 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

(2) Stone, Deborah. (2001) Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making (Revised Edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
Please note that in the required readings listed below, all articles are available on-line through JSTOR and other databases.
Course Requirements

Each student is expected to do graduate-quality work. This entails several responsibilities:

1. I expect that you will come to class having read all of the assigned material and are prepared to contribute to class discussion.

2. I expect you to think critically and analytically. I certainly do not expect you to abandon personal beliefs about given issues, but I do expect you to defend your views, as well as be open to scrutiny and debate.

3. It is your responsibility to treat other class members with courtesy and respect. I expect professionalism in appearance and demeanor.

4. As you will note in the course outline below, during the latter section of the course there will be four separate student-led discussions concerning a given public policy. You will be required to take part in a group project that shall include preparing a lecture on the given topic, as well as leading the class’s discussion on that topic. I will mention more about this requirement later in the semester.

5. There will be a take-home mid-term exam. The test will be distributed on February 21 and will be due on February 28. Tests turned in late will have their respective grades reduced by one letter grade each day that they are late.

6. You are allowed two unexcused absences throughout the semester. Each unexcused absence beyond the first two will result in a 10% reduction in your participation grade.




Course Grades

Course grades will be based on the following weighted percentages:



  • Class participation and attendance 15%

  • Group Presentation/Seminar/Paper 35%

  • Mid-term Exam 20%

  • Final Exam 30%



Course Outline
SECTION I – Intro to Public Policy Concepts, Theories, and Processes
13 January – Course Introduction: No required reading
20 January – No Class!! (MLK Day)
27 January – Introduction to Public Policy

Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapter 1

2. Sabatier, Paul A. “Political Science and Public Policy” PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 144-147

3. Champney, Leonard. “Public Goods and Policy Types.” Public Administration Review. Washington: Nov/Dec 1988. Vol. 48, Iss. 6; p. 988


3 February. -- The Structural Environment of Policymaking

Required Reading

1. The Constitution of the United States of America

2. The Federalist Papers; Nos. 10 & 51

3. Beard – “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution” Chp. 3

4. Anderson, Chapter 2 (pp. 35-46)
10 February – Actors in the Policymaking Process

Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapter 2 (pp. 46-73)

2. Fiorina, Morris P. and Roger G. Noll. “Voters, Legislators and Bureaucracy: Institutional Design in the Public Sector.” The American Economic Review, Vol. 68, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Ninetieth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1978), pp. 256-260

3. Sigelman, Lee. ”A Reassessment of the Two Presidencies Thesis” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Nov., 1979), pp. 1195-1205

4. Medvic, Stephen K. “The Effectiveness of the Political Consultant as a Campaign Resource” PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 150-154
17 & 24 February. – Policy Formulation: Problem Identification, Agendas, and Formulation

Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapter 3

2. Cobb, Roger W. and Charles D. Elder. “The Politics of Agenda-Building: An Alternative Perspective for Modern Democratic Theory” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Nov., 1971), pp. 892-915

3. Jones & Baumgartner – “Representation and Agenda Setting.” Policy Studies Journal, Feb 2004 v32 i1.

4. John, Peter. “Is there life after policy streams, advocacy coalitions, and punctuations: using evolutionary theory to explain policy change?” Policy Studies Journal, Nov 2003 v31 i4.

3 March – Policy Adoption



Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapter 4

2. Lindblom, Charles E. “The Science of Muddling Through.” Public Administration Review, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring, 1959), pp. 79-88

3. Weissert, C. “Policy Entrepreneurs, Policy Opportunists, and Legislative Effectiveness,” American Politics Quarterly 19 (1991): 262-274.

Mid-Term Exam Distributed
10 March – No Class – Spring Break!!
17 March – Budgeting

Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapter 5

2. Rubin, Irene S. “Budget Theory and Budget Practice: How Good the Fit?” Public Administration Review, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 1990), pp. 179-189

Mid-Term Exam Due


24 March. – Policy Implementation and Evaluation

Required Reading

1. Anderson, Chapters 6 & 7

2. Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches to Implementation Research: A Critical Analysis and Suggested Synthesis Author(s): Paul A. Sabatier Source: Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1986), pp. 21-48

3. Daniels, Mark R. Terminating Public Programs: An American Political Paradox. Chp 1 “Public Policy and Organization Termination: An Overview (E-book)


31 March – Policy Paradox

Required Reading

Stone – Policy Paradox; entire book



SECTION II – Public Policies
For each of the policy areas listed below, regardless of whether you are presenting a given policy, you should be able to explain the major controversies concerning each policy area, the history of each policy area, and how each of the theories discussed in the first section of the course can be used to explain current issues concerning each policy area.

7 April – Healthcare Policy


14 April – Education Policy
21 April – Immigration Policy
28 April – Environmental Policy
28 April – Final Exam distributed

5 May – Final Exam Due – 5:00p.m.


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