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Per the course catalog: “Major foreign and domestic policies of the U.S. with emphasis on current issues.”

Per my vision: Government policies impact our lives every single day. From the government-funded road you drive on to get to school or work, to the safety regulations for the food you eat for lunch, to the content of the television shows you watch at night; federal, state, and local governments have a hand in nearly everything we do. In this course, you will learn how our elected officials address specific public problems, and why they select the solutions they do. First, we’ll discuss the “players of the game”—political actors and the institutions they’re a part of – and weigh different theories about how public policies are ultimately formulated. Along the way, we’ll pay close attention to how particular issues and problems grab the public’s attention, and how policymakers weigh various alternatives when deciding what to do. Second, you’ll earn a new (and exciting) title: Policy Analyst. You’ll become equipped with the tools necessary to systematically evaluate whether a particular policy is achieving its desired goals and whether it’s being implemented correctly and efficiently. Third, we’ll extensively cover the nitty gritty of public policies in the United States today, from education to health care to immigration to foreign policy. In sum, this course will not only make you a better student, but a better citizen as well; someone who is able to identify public problems, weigh possible solutions, and make informed evaluations about government policies.

As with any endeavor in life, we should set clear goals at the outset so we can gauge our performance when we finish. So, after taking this course, you should be able to:

       Explain different theories of the public policymaking process, with a detailed knowledge of the political actors and institutions that guide the process along the way;

       Evaluate the utility of particular policies and appraise whether they are being implemented effectively, efficiently, and equitably;

       Debate intelligently about the problems and corresponding policies in the United States today in the areas of health care, education, social welfare, taxes and the budget, the environment, civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, and foreign policy/national defense; and

       Demonstrate expertise in a particular policy area of your choosing by developing a detailed knowledge of pressing problems and current policy solutions, and by proposing original policy alternatives of your own. Other required articles and chapters may be placed online.