Govt 210 – Public Policy
An AU Core Curriculum W2 Course
Schedule of Readings and Discussions
Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
‐ Winston Churchill
We will discuss the written assignments and the paper well in advance. Readings are to be completed before the class meetings. Additional required readings or videos may be added to this syllabus. This is a tentative schedule, subject to revision at any time. The reading schedule below is suggestive; you will be given updates as appropriate.
*** Due to the nature of their work, the dates of any site visit(s) and guest expert(s) are tentative. As soon as they are confirmed I will let you know. And thanks in advance for recognizing that we’ll need to keep the syllabus flexible for this reason.
(Bb) means on Blackboard
We divide our semester into two parts – an intro to the mechanics of public policy and public policy theory, and exploring public policy problems by examining different kinds of public policy writing.
|Kraft = Kraft and Furlong, Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives|
|Kraft Online = Student Resources at http://edge.sagepub.com/kraft5e|
|Bardach = Bardach and Patashnik, A Practical Guide for Political Policy Analysis|
|Week 1 – Aug 28||Welcome: What are we doing here?|
|Should you be allowed to feed the homeless?|
|Bardach – Appendix B – Things Governments Do|
|What is Political Power and American Public Policy?|
|Week 2 – Sept 4||Kraft – selections from chapters 1 and 2, available on Bb|
|ch 1 – Public Policy and Politics|
|ch 2 – Government Institutions and Policy Actors|
|Don’t have the book yet? See Kraft Online – see ch 1 and ch 2|
|Possible Unannounced Quiz #1?|
|Week 3 – Sept 11||Kraft – selections from chapters 3 and 4|
|ch 3 – Understanding Public Policy Making|
|ch 4 – Policy Analysis: An Introduction|
|Kraft Online – also see ch 3 and ch 4 https://edge.sagepub.com/kraft5e|
|Policy Writing: The Literature Review
We start our policy writing segments by introducing a key piece of academic writing – the literature review. Please see the folder on Bb.
|Week 4 – Sept 18||Kraft – selections from chapters 5 and 6|
|ch 5 – Public Problems and Policy Alternatives|
|ch 6 – Assessing Policy Alternatives|
|Kraft Online – also see ch 5 and 6 https://edge.sagepub.com/kraft5e|
|Exam 1 due|
At this point we switch mostly to our Catherine Smith Writing Public Policy book, with supplemental readings of various writing types.
Schedule here is estimated; we’ll confirm dates and assignments well in advance.
WEEK 3: ACADEMIC WRITING
Issues: Globalization and State/Local Government
Here we’ll focus on one part of Academic Writing, called the Literature Review
Catherine Smith, Writing Public Policy: Chapter 3: Describe the Problem
Catherine Smith, Writing Public Policy: Chapter 4: Analyze and Advise
Readings from APSR, Managing Globalization, and Contemporary Security Policy
Additional selected readings from Lisa Baglione, Writing a Research Paper in Political Science and from Malici and Smith, Political Science Research in Practice
In-class and take-home writing assignment:
We discussed: come to class ready to draft a literature review. You are not expected to have detailed knowledge of 40 good scholarly sources. You are expected to come with an idea that has competing explanations and be able to follow the format of a LR in explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each of them. If you’ve already had Govt 310 or SIS 206/306, you know where we are.
WEEK 4: POLICY ANALYSIS
See readings in Kraft & Furlong, above
WEEK 5: LEGISLATIVE HISTORY – KNOW THE RECORD
Issues: Immigration and Iran
Read Smith, Writing Public Policy, Chapter 5
We also look at two sources of legislative history: CRS on immigration and CFR on Iran. There are no written assignments to go with these legislative histories.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has produced dozens of Reports in recent years that focus on or are related to immigration issues. We’ll look at three here. You should skim/read each for (1) a general sense of what each Report is trying to do, and (2) an introduction to some of the key issues in the immigration debate.
A Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy (2018)
Hurricane Katrina-Related Immigration Issues and Legislation (2005)
Brief History of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Efforts in the 109th and 110th Congresses to Inform Policy Discussions in the 113th Congress (2013)
The United States and Iran have a long and curious history. Overmatched by Britain and Russia, the U.S. played an ultimately unfruitful effort in Persia’s early-20th century (c.1909) efforts at democratization. In 1953 the U.S. helped the U.K. overthrow the elected government of Iran, establishing a regime later overthrown by the 1979 revolution. The JCPOA was a multilateral 2015 agreement intended to address Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was one of Candidate Trump’s early targets and as president he withdrew the U.S. from it.
The Council on Foreign Relations is a premier academic and policy think tank based in New York and Washington. Two of its most popular productions are the bimonthly (6x/yr) Foreign Affairs magazine and its Backgrounders. These latter offer detailed introductions to a current policy issue. We have here the CFR Backgrounder on the JCPOA. It’s useful to note the date on these (in this case, July 31, 2019) because subsequent events (like attacking Saudi oil facilities) can change perspectives.
CFR Backgrounder, “What is the Status of the Iran Nuclear Agreement?” (2019)
WEEK 6: POSITION PAPERS – KNOW THE ARGUMENTS
Issues: STEM education and Fracking
Catherine Smith, Writing Public Policy, Chapter 6 – Position Paper: Know the Arguments
What this chapter really means is know your argument. Pages 107-118 are particularly useful. Notice the difference between the explicit and implicit arguments.
As outside examples, we’ll look at advocacy for global STEM education for girls (CFR, 2019), and some competing video “position papers” on fracking – from advocacy groups and from politicians. You can get some fracking background here in Forbes (as advocacy – look at it’s structure) (Forbes, 2012) and more judicious reports from IEEE here (2011) and here (2015) and more broadly a US Dept of Energy Report here (2017, p 8-9 and 20-24)
We’ll also watch competing videos from the Sierra Club and Marathon Oil, and three different approaches from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama. Note how these video “position papers” do or don’t fulfill the requirements Smith lays out
In-class and take-home assignment:
Writing a position paper / policy memo – we will discuss in class. Follow-up: revise, edit, resubmit your policy memo
WEEK 7: REQUEST ACTION – PETITION, PROPOSAL, LETTER
Issues: Drones Policy
Smith, Writing Public Policy, Chapter 7
You’ll go home, in a way: you’ll explore a local news outlet, and write a short letter to the editor on any question related to drones. Several videos and readings are available on Bb.
WEEK 8: WRITING AS A TEAM and WRITING IN EMERGENCIES
Special Guest October 15 – Olivia Ivey – AU Library – The Value of Information
Oct 18 – 48-Hours Crisis Response Team Projects
In this week we combine policy proposal and analysis with written and oral recommendations as part of a team and under a time limit. Details on monitoring the emerging crises Oct. 15-16 and your team’s deliverables on Oct. 18 are posted on Bb > Written Assignments. We’ll also discuss in class.
WEEK 9: CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY – WITNESS IN A PUBLIC HEARING
This week we do two things:
— consider the policy questions related to CRISPR (Tues), and
— learn about preparing to testify at a Congressional hearing (Fri)
We begin, as usual, with Smith, Writing Public Policy – this time, Chapter 9
Congressional testimony and related resources
12 Tips for Testifying Before Congress – Manhattan Institute / E21 (2019) – this is a very thorough yet simple overview
Advice on Government Testimony – Eugene Spafford, Purdue University / CERIAS – he has testified in front of Congress many times, as well as advised executive branch agencies and been party to numerous amicus curiae briefs. This link gives planning, game day, and post-game advice for testifying to Congress or a federal commission
Hearings in the U.S. Senate: A Guide for Preparation and Procedure – a CRS Report, updated 2010. A how-to for running you own Congressional hearings
You can copy and paste from Wikipedia into Google Docs, right? What if gene-editing were that easy? What are the right questions to debate? Who gets to decide?
We start by learning what CRISPR-Cas9 is, at least a little (you don’t actually know what happens inside a computer when you cut and paste, do you?). What is gene editing? Are there applications of gene editing that might make humanity (or individuals) better off? Are there applications that maybe should be avoided, or prohibited, or federally funded?
Start with a video of Jennifer Doudna, a creator of CRISPR-Cas9 – either the BBC interview or her TEDtalk. What questions does she raise that policy makers might need to think about?
BBC Hardtalk (24 min) –
This might be a great time to review our policy-evaluation criteria from Kraft & Furlong:
Policy questions are related to ethical questions. Science writer Heidi Ledford, raises some of these concerns in a recent issue of the highly-reputable Nature, , “CRISPR the Disruptor,” nature.com (June 2015)
Most Americans probably don’t understand the basics of gene-editing, but they seem to have a sense of possible implications. A poll on the uses of gene-editing: “Poll: Edit baby genes for health, not smarts,” Associated Press, Dec 29, 2018
And this is all moving very fast. After human experiments and births in late 2018 in China, U.S. efforts are continuing – although not yet to birth: “New U.S. Experiments Aim to Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos,” Feb 1, 2019, NPR
“CRISPR might have made China’s “designer babies” smarter – Interesting Engineering, Feb 22, 2019
Finally, maybe we are thinking of this as the “future of technology policy” but really it’s the “right-now of technology policy” – we know that policy always lags behind technology. This guy is already selling gene-editing starter kits. “East Bay Biochemist Sells ‘Gene-Editing Kit’ for the Masses,” CBS San Francisco, Jan 29, 2019
A call for international governance of heritable CRISPR, Nature, March 17, 2019
All the above serves as background for the public hearing testimony we look at this week.
U.S. Senate Cmte on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions:
Gene Editing Technology: Innovation and Impact (2017)
Matthew Porteus, Stanford Univ
Katrine Bosley, Editas Medicine
Jeffrey Kah, Johns Hopkins Univ
You should read the executive summary (page 1) of Porteus, the introduction (page 1-3) of Bosley, and all of Kahn (p. 1-5) – and you should read at least skim the rest of Porteus and Bosley. And/or you can watch the entire hearing (1h37m) – you are not required to watch the whole thing but you should at least watch one of the panelists and a few minutes of the questions part.
WEEK 10: INTELLIGENCE WRITING – with a Guest Expert from the CIA
October 29 – A senior IC analyst will brief us on a special kind of “inform policy makers” writing. He will offer a presentation on producing and consuming different kinds of intel material and guide us through a writing activity taught to new IC hires
*** 9:45am-11 – meeting in Weschler Theater, MGC 315 – not in our regular classroom. All students from the 4:05pm class are invited/urged to come to this 9:45 meeting as well
WEEK 11: PRESIDENTIAL ACTION and EXECUTIVE WRTING
Issue: The Arctic
Analysis of the Arctic around two presidential orders
Arctic melt (see National Snow and Ice Data Center) raises questions about the environment, national security, natural resources, economics and trade, and native populations, and we talk about these in class and with readings on Bb.
In terms of output, what is executive writing?
The Bush Administration composed a National Security Presidential Directive about the Arctic that it released in 2009; the Obama Administration offered a National Strategy on the Arctic in 2013. How do these documents compare in style, format, etc.? Why? How do these documents compare in terms of substance? Why?
In-class writing activity:
on the subject of drones or homelessness, draft an executive order (or other presidential directive). Use the classroom discussion and the links above for guidance.
Fall of the Berlin Wall – 30th Anniversary
1989: Year of Miracles (Victims of Communism Foundation), esp. 0.00 – 6.37
The Revolutions of 1989 (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)
How CNN covered the Berlin Wall (CNN)
Optional: How the Berlin Wall Worked (Deutsche Welle)
Optional: The Fall of Communism (ABC News, 1990)
Week _: Inform Policy Makers – Brief, Opinion, Resolution
We’ll look at how policy makers learn about things like drones and autonomous vehicles, the Arctic, and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Week _: How to Write a Public Comment: Influence Administration
In some sense, all of the above is “how to write a public comment,” but we’ll go back to the beginning to look at how different NGOs write about immigration