AU-496 – Business and Government

Welcome!  to 2018 Summer Online: Session I

Govt 496:  Intersection of Business and Government


Welcome to Govt 496:  Intersection of Business and Government

This is the main course page – the outline of assignments, followed by course description and other course info.  There’s a lot of important info here – please read through it slowly, at least once – thanks

Man Controlling Trade, by Michael Lantz, 1938-1942, outside the Dept. of Labor, depicts government forcefully restraining business.

Outline of Assignments

Most weeks have a sequence: readings and videos, your initial responses to my prompts, and your responses to each others.

May 14 – Intro to Online Learning and Intersection of Business and Government: an Introduction
May 21 – Keynes and Hayek: The Battle Begins
May 28 – Keynes and Hayek: Pendulums and Crises
June 4 – Enduring Challenges: Energy, Cyber, and Privacy
June 11 – Emerging Challenges: Autonomous Vehicles, Genes, and Space
June 18 – Finishing Your Final Papers
June 25 – What’s Next for the Future of Business, Government, and the Future of Work?

Course Outline 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at a variety of approaches to the intersection of business and government.  But we’ll begin with a look at online learning: what it is and isn’t; what you can expect from me and from each others, and what we’ll expect from you.

We’ll start the substance of our course with Keynes and Hayek – the fundamental debate over the proper role of government in the economy.  We’ll look at their readings closely, and then consider how Keynes and Hayek shape current cases and crises.  In the weeks after that, we’ll look at the role of government in a few particular aspects of the economy, listed in June 4 and June 11 above.  Throughout the course, you’ll also be working on an individual paper on the topic of your choice – you and I will discuss your topic individually.  You’ll post a short video presentation of your paper online for all of us to watch.  Finally, we’ll take a look at What’s Next? by considering how the very nature of work itself is changing, and how governments and businesses might shape and respond to those issues.

Weeks will typically have some combination of  academic readings, original [primary] source documents, and other online readings or videos, including a short video from me introducing the week.

There is no required textbook – I will provide all our videos and readings, mostly by links, but a few on Blackboard.  Your assignments will include (1) on this web site, weekly postings and responses to your classmates’ weekly postings, (2) in our facebook group, your reflections on refugee news items and (3) a final “paper” on the subject of your own choice.  We’ll talk more about this paper.

A ink to our facebook group is on  Blackboard > Announcements.  If you have a critical [legal; other] reason you cannot have a fb page, you and I should discuss this; we can make it work.  And you know better than me about social media trends:  I’ll ask the group later whether it’s time for me to move to snapchat this fall or fb is still a good choice, etc.. But for this course, fb, please. Please use the link in my intro email/on our Bb page to request to join.)

Advice from me: whether or not this is your first online summer course, one note: the semester is short and moves fast. It’s important to keep up.

Advice from you: I’ll be asking you for a couple of things during the semester. If you have a request, suggestion, etc., let me know anytime.

My goal is that this should be a fun, interesting, and academic endeavor for you and for me.  By choosing this course I expect you already have some real interest in politics and economics, and in government and business – maybe you have some experience as well.  In any case, online summer classes are good only with real engagement by the students. I’ll try to make that easy and appealing for you, but only you can do it.

Ok, great, thanks – let’s get started!

Office hours 

I will check my email each morning. We can schedule a phone call, Skype, etc., by appointment.  The fastest way to get in touch with my with a short question is by facebook message (details below).

Course requirements

You are expected to complement your study of business and government with an increased awareness of current events. At a minimum, you should be familiar each morning with the front page of the New York Times ( and the Washington Post (, spending significant time with at least one of them.   There are, of course, many other good sources of news as well. For this course, the Wall Street Journal is naturally helpful.

At least once per week you should also see news and opinion outlets like the,, and  You can find newspapers from around the world at the Newseum website.

We do not physically meet at any particular time and place but only asynchronously online.  We do, though, have a predictable and organized format.   Instructions for each week will be on the course’s web site,, from the outline of assignments at the top of this page.  These instructions will include a description of the subject and learning goals for the week, a list of the readings for the week, my guide to those readings (video, PowerPoint, etc.), discussion questions about the readings, and instructions (length, due dates) on the written assignment for the week.  The written assignments will include shorter and longer posts (or replies to posts) on our and facebook sites.

Notes about the Online of our Online Course

Much of our work will be done at and on our course’s (“closed”) Govt 396 facebook page.  We will also have a Blackboard (Bb) page, but that is not where we will do our work – we will do it on and our fb page. If you are not already a member of our closed fb group, please request to join from the link on Bb. The facebook page will have former students/alumni as members; some check in with useful insights from time to time.  If there is a legal reason that prevents you from using facebook, you and I should talk about a workaround.

If this is the first summer online course you are taking, there are a couple of ideas worth considering.  First, the course has two important adjustments, for the instructor and for the students:  the course is online, and the course is compressed into just a few weeks.  You should expect the same amount of work on your part in these few weeks as you would give to a full semester-length course.  Think of how many classroom and study hours you usually give to a 14-week course, and then do the math: that’s a considerable dedication of time each day/week for seven weeks.  (Even if we don’t always meet it, that is the goal.)

Second, and related to that last idea, is the prioritization of your work.  During the fall and spring, you have several competing courses, along with activities, work, internships, etc.  During a summer online course, you need to think of your online course as your key responsibility.  If you are also working or interning, you need to recognize that this course is at least a demanding part-time job of up to 20 hours per week.

Most of this is not material or response that you can do a few minutes at a time waiting for the Metro or walking your dog.  Those might be great time to check the news, or to see if there are responses to your latest fb post.  But you also want to block out periods of time in which you will be undisturbed by work, personal, or other distractions.

Finally, combining the ideas above, no late work can be accepted in subsequent weeks.  Week 2 work has to be submitted during Week 2, etc.  A particular post might be minutes or hours late, with some adjustment to your grade, but can not leak into the following weeks.

Similarly, your course paper is due on the due date, Monday, June 25, 11:59 PM EDT. I will post details of the paper assignment on Bb, fb, and, but in short: any topic you choose and I approve; 1600-2000 words; due June 25.  You should expect that late papers will not be accepted at all.

Grades and Assignments

Your responsibilities include

(1) a thorough reading of the assignments before class and completion of the online discussion assignments,

(2) relevant current events discussion on fb, and

(3) a final paper.

Each week I will post two or more discussion questions from which you may choose to “discuss.”  Each week you will be responsible for posting at least one 300- to 400-word answer of your own to one of the questions I pose, and each week you will be responsible for at least two 100-word replies to someone else’s posting (or someone else’s reply).    These 300-400 word discussions should not merely be summaries of the readings, and nor should they be how you “feeeeel” about something.  Your 100-word replies should advance the discussion, not merely re-iterate, approve, or reject your classmates’ ideas.

Good discussion format  If you write something like this, good:

“The Keynes and Hayek readings are typical in one sense: Keynes advocates a greater role for government intervention, and Hayek argues that government intervention always risks another step on the road toward serfdom.  But a careful reading reveals that, despite their differing philosophies and backgrounds, Keynes and Hayek share not only certain perspectives and biases, but also certain goals….”

Not good discussion format  You don’t want to write something like this (maybe you can suggest several reasons why):

“Hayek’s an idiot.  He thinks this Bush recession is “creative destruction” which makes Romney richer and lets General Motors die and that’s good for America.”

Good reply format  In the second part of each week, you’ll engage your classmates:

“That’s interesting – I was more focused on X and missed the author’s point of Y that you raise.  But perhaps then there is a contradiction between what Keynes advises to FDR and what he advocates at Bretton Woods. That is, Keynes….”

Not good reply format  “No, that’s stupid.”

Nicer, but still not sufficient   “Nice point.”

Additionally, each week you will be responsible posting on facebook one link (to a news story, or government report, or scholarly analysis, or personal account, etc.), and briefly commenting on links posted by me or by a classmate.   Good sources can come from traditional or new media – it is the substance of the story and your comments that matter.  Example:

Good news link  You should post like this, with some exposition and commentary:

“Dan Drezner’s “inside baseball” account of the World Bank prez selection process.  I especially like the note about U.S. presidential re-election politics – do voters in FL, OH and PA really care who the next WB prez is?

Not sufficient  This is not how you post a news link:

***Special note***

It seems like it should go without saying, but just in case:  this is academic work, not the place for screeds, ad hominem attacks, or other unpleasantness.  That’s not really suitable for your personal twitter account either, but it is certainly not appropriate here. This is “classroom facebook”, not “locker-room facebook”.  Open, sincere, fact-based, and analytical – and even partisan – but not mean, rude, racist, etc.  Thanks.

The Govt 396 fb group is “closed” – only members of the class will be able to see it, and only I can admit people to the group.  But is the “real Internet.”  It won’t generate much traffic except from members of the class, and when the class is over, I will password protect it.  But during the class, it is available to anyone on the Web.  This is a deliberate pedagogical choice.  You are free to use your own name, or to use a pseudonym.  For example, you’ll see in our May 14 comments that I am ests11 (from a project I worked on many years ago).  You must, of course, let me know what your pseudonym is.  Any G- or PG-rated pseudonym is ok.

Additionally, when you post/reply on, the site will ask for your email address.  This email address will be visible to me, but not to anyone else.  Please use your AU email address. In the first week or two, posts will require my approval before they show up.  After that, they will appear immediately.  Treat this work as you would any in-class homework: smart, thoughtful, analytical, proofread – no first drafts. 

To review:  each week you are responsible for

– at least one 300-to-400-word posting of your own at, in answer to one or more of the Essay Prompts that I will provide for you,
– two 100-word replies to classmate’s postings on,
– posting (and commenting on, in 20-40 words) at least one news/story on our fb page, and – commenting on (in 20-40 words) at least two of your classmates’s fb posts.

For all of these, there will be specific due dates in each week’s outline of assignments. Links to the outline of assignments for each week will be posted to the course’s main page each week. Posts/comments may be as long as twice the recommended length, but should not be significantly shorter than the recommended lengths.

And finally, you will write a paper on the “intersection of business and government” topic of your choosing, approximately 1600 to 2000-words.  More information on this will be available on Bb.

Your essay posts and replies will account for 60% of your grade. Your final paper will account for 25%. Your fb engagement will count for 15%.

Ok, let’s have fun