This course has three goals: to improve your understanding of the nature and content of existing American public policies, to improve your ability to analyze competing explanations for why policies are enacted, and to improve your ability to evaluate critically policy arguments and proposals for reform. If this course is successful, by the end of the semester you should be better equipped to address the following questions: What are American public policies? Why do these policies exist? and What policies should exist? We will pursue these goals through study of several contemporary policy issues.

Because this course is about current policy concerns, much of our attention throughout the semester will focus on day to day discussion in the media of policy issues. For this reason, daily monitoring of these discussions is a crucial part of our work, hence the necessity of the New York Times assignment (see below). Our other readings and class discussions will aim to broaden and deepen current policy debates through study of the context and history in which they occur. Readings and assignments are intended to provide a sophisticated understanding of contemporary public policy debates.

Student class participation will be crucial throughout the semester. For this reason, students will be expected to complete reading assignments prior to coming to class. The course outline below provides a daily schedule of reading assignments. I will expect students to have completed a given day’s assignment before coming to class. In addition to these reading assignments, I expect students to supplement their daily reading of the New York Times through attention to other news sources like periodicals and TV network news.

Service component
Every student in this class will be required to participate in a community service activity. We expect students to complete a minimum of thirty hours of community service over the course of the semester (about two hours per week). Most service options will require a commitment of 2-4 hours per week. During the first week of class, students will be provided information on several service options. Students will select one of these options for their service site. During the first two or three weeks of class, orientations will be organized for each site and individual service schedules developed. Every effort will be made by both the course staff and service site staff to fit schedules into your other activities.

Either I or a Feinstein Institute Service Corps member will serve as team leader for your service site. As team leader for your service activity, we will be responsible for helping you with issues arising from your service activity, including scheduling service hours; acting as a liaison between your service site, this course, and the Feinstein Institute; trouble shooting any problems that may occur; and leading service reflection/discussion sessions with the students at your site.

The purpose of this service activity is to bring you into contact with how public policies affect people in American society. Each service activity has been chosen with this purpose in mind. You are encouraged to relate the experiences you will have at your service site to all aspects of the course. Comments about service experiences are welcome in every class.

Your service experience should be considered as one of the core assignments of this course like the assigned readings, exams, and paper assignments. You will be graded on your service through monitoring of a service journal I will ask you to keep and submit weekly. (See journal assignment) In assessing your service grade, I will hold you accountable, at a minimum, for keeping your service commitment and, in addition, I will assess the degree to which you relate your service experience to course themes in your service journal.

Course readings
David Stoesz Small Change
Gingrich, et al. Contract with America
James Gimpel Fulfilling the Contract
Joel Handler The Poverty of Welfare Reform
Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities
New York Times
 or other nationally oriented newspaper
Various hand-outs (these are marked with * in outline below)

weekly monitoring of some policy relevant periodicals (See: A List of
Public Policy Periodicals)

Written assignments and grade distribution
Two take home exams 20%
Final 30%
Final paper (10-12 pages) 20%
Service, service journal,
service group presentations,
and class participation 30%

I. Introduction .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Jan 17

II. What is public policy? What does govt. do? .. .. .. .. .. .. Jan 18-25
Rushefsky “Process, Structure, Ideology”
(Jan.18- Select service preferences)
(Jan. 22- e-mail training)

III. A Brief History of American Public Policy .. .. .. .. .. Jan 29 – Feb 8
A. 1776 – 1932 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Jan 29
Linden pp.35-53 *
B. New Deal and WW II .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Jan 31 – Feb 1
Linden pp. 54-63 *
Caro “The Sad Irons” & “I·ll Get It for You” *
C. Post-WW II to 1980 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Feb 5 – Feb 7
Linden pp. 63-71 *
D. Reaganism .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Feb 8
Linden pp. 71-88 *

IV. The Current Policy Juncture: From Clinton to
the Contract .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Feb 12-15
Stoez pp. ix-27
Gingrich pp.3-22;157-196
Gimpel pp. ix-41;95-104;115-128

V. Economic Policy Feb. 21-29
A. Fiscal and Monetary policy Feb. 21
Linden pp. 143-185
Gingrich pp. 125-141
Gimpel pp. 105-114
B. Deficits .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Feb. 22-26
Gingrich pp. 23-36
Gimpel pp. 42-55
Schultze “Of Wolves, Termites…” *
Eisner “Our Real Deficits” *
Selected New York Times articles *
C. Inequality .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Feb. 28-29
Bluestone “The Inequality Express” *
Mishel “Rising Tides, Sinking Wages” *
Wolfe “How the Pie is Sliced” *

VI. Midterm Service Group presentations Mar. 4-7

VII. Social Welfare policy .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Mar. 18-28
A. Social Security Mar. 18-20
Stoesz pp. 173-194
B. Welfare Mar. 21-28
Stoesz pp. 57-84
Gingrich pp. 65-77
Gimpel pp. 79-94
Handler The Poverty of Welfare Reform (All)
Skocpol “Sustainable Social Policy” *

VIII. Health Policy April 1-3
Stoesz pp. 29-55
Fallows “A Triumph of Misinformation” *
Eckholm “While Congress Remains Silent. *

IX. Urban Policy April 9-11
Stoez pp. 85-116
Gingrich pp.37-64
Gimpel pp. 56-66
Porter “The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City” *
Putnam “The Prosperous Community” *

X. Education Policy April 15-18
Stoez pp. 117-147
Kozol Savage Inequalities (all)

XI. Immigration Policy April 22-25
Stoesz pp. 149-171

XII. Final Service presentations April 29 – May 2

Community Service Placement Options
PSC 406 Hudson
Spring 1996

1. Smith Hill Economic Development Project

Agency contact: Richard Brien, Bari Harlam
PC Contact: Bill Hudson

This year the Smith Hill Center initiated an Economic Development project to promote economic development in the neighborhood. Economic development consultants, with the assistance of neighborhood residents and the Feinstein Institute, have been collecting data on neighborhood assets and the existing business base. This service project will involve providing staff assistance to the economic consultants as they proceed with their work. Students will perform a variety of tasks ranging from data entry to formulating strategies for collecting additional data. Preliminary plans suggest a need for students to research how public policies and neighborhood social capital affect neighborhood economic development.

2. McAuley Village

Agency contact: Sister Holly Cloutier
PC Contact: Meg Stoltzfus

McAuley Village is a residential facility that provides quality housing, social services, and a supportive environment to assist welfare recipients in ending their dependence on public assistance. Students electing this project will provide child care assistance during early evening hours (approximately 4-5:30 PM) once or twice a week for Village residents. Each student will work (and play) with children in their apartments while their mothers complete household chores or study. (All McAuley Village residents are enrolled in educational programs.) Activities with the children would range from helping them with their homework to playing board games.

3. Esek Hopkins Middle School

Agency contact: Ralph Campagnone
PC Contact: Nick Longo

Esek Hopkins is a middle school (6-8 grade) located on Charles St. in Providence’s North End. The children at the school come from mostly low-income students representing many different ethnic groups. There is an especially large Southeast Asian population at the school. Student volunteers will tutor children in a variety of subjects in an after school program.

4. Project Hope/Proyecto Esperanza

Agency Contact: Stella Carrera
PC Contact: Christine Castagna

Project HOPE/Proyecto Esperanza is an advocacy agency and social service
center funded by Catholic Charities, a Diocesan subsidy, and other grants
to address the needs of the elderly, low-income, and working poor in the
Blackstone Valley. This service project involves tutoring recent immigrants as they prepare to apply to become US citizens.