LAST REVISED: 4/02/09
To get to online syllabus:
Department of Public Policy and Administration
Fall and Spring, 2008-09
Nancy Shulock, Ph.D.
Professor, Public Policy and Administration
Director, Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy
Tahoe Hall 3063
Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, 2nd floor conference room
This course is designed to complement your placement with
a combination of theory and practical knowledge to help you understand, and
prepare for, state-level public
The course covers four general sets of topics:
2. The political environment of policymaking: We consider the political landscape that must be confronted in shaping and managing the policy agenda, and key features of the policy process in California that explain why and how policy change does (or doesn’t) occur.
3. Policy design and analysis: We explore how policy problems are defined and solutions analyzed within the complex political environment in which policy is shaped and implemented, and we learn practical approaches to researching and analyzing policy issues.
4. Leadership and organizational effectiveness: We discuss what makes leaders more or less effective and consider the role of leadership and leadership strategies in promoting organizational effectiveness.
A focus of seminar across all four of these topics will be government reform. The need to change the way the State of California develops budgets, elects officials, enacts policies, and engages citizens in governing has emerged as perhaps the key policy issue this year. Regardless of your placement, you will undoubtedly be exposed to discussions about effective governance and proposed government reform initiatives. This theme will provide a basis for bringing your placement experiences into the seminar discussions in a way that can involve all fellows regardless of policy field in which they work.
An overriding goal of this course is to heighten your
appreciation for, and your commitment to, public
The learning objectives for the course are as follows:
1. Understand the opportunities and challenges facing public sector leaders as they seek to advance the public good through policy design and implementation;
2. Understand distinctive features of the
3. Learn some core concepts about policy design and policy analysis and be able to apply them to specific policy issues;
4. Develop the skills to analyze the effectiveness of an organization and its leadership in fulfilling its mission;
5. Enhance your commitment to public
6. Learn to communicate effectively for policy audiences, with an emphasis on writing and visual presentation of analytical information in policy briefs.
Seminar Format and Expectations
The seminar is a required component of the fellowship program. You cannot succeed in the fellowship program without succeeding in the seminar. Mentors are aware of the seminar and have been advised to ensure that Friday mornings are free for fellows to attend the seminar. You are expected to attend every seminar. You may miss one class, for a work-related purpose, without penalty, if you notify me first. If you miss more than one class (illness aside), your course grade will be reduced, without exception. You are also expected to arrive on time. Excessive late arrival will result in a reduced course grade.
This is a graduate seminar with graduate-level academic content. It is not only an opportunity to share experiences from your placement. You are expected to do the reading and think about the key concepts before class. We will use seminar time largely to move beyond the readings – applying and critiquing them. I consider it fair and reasonable to call on anyone and expect them to be familiar with the key concepts from the readings. A significant part of your grade is based on class participation – reflecting your ability to draw out the key concepts from the readings, to relate readings to one another, and to your placement, and to be respectful of others’ ideas and contributions.
In summary, here are my expectations for the successful seminar participant:
◊ Do the reading each week in time to think about it and with time to write a thoughtful memo, on the weeks that you choose to write one.
◊ Come to seminar on time, prepared to critique and apply the readings and participate constructively in class discussion and group activities.
◊ Open your mind to big-picture thinking and to contrary points of view and be respectful of others’ views.
Think about how the issues from seminar relate
to your organization, to your chosen case study topic, and to
◊ Work hard on your writing and pay attention to the comments I give you on written assignments.
Assignments and grading
Late assignments will not be accepted – NO EXCEPTIONS. Weekly memos are due in my email inbox by midnight on Thursday (12:00 am Friday). You would be wise not to leave it until the last minute because unforeseen email or Internet problems could cause you to miss the deadline and receive no credit. Other assignments are due as indicated in the syllabus.
Effective participation in class discussions is an important component of performance. I will let you know halfway through the year how you are doing in class participation, so there are no surprises and so you can make adjustments. The class participation grade will reflect the quality of your participation in class discussion and your contributions to your in-class group activities. While I understand that different people have different comfort levels with talking in class, I don’t believe that one can be an effective public servant, and certainly not an effective public leader, without the capacity to participate effectively in group discussions. My job is to make the seminar environment as welcoming of everyone’s contributions as possible. Your responsibility is to contribute constructively and appropriately. That means for those who like to talk, be respectful about letting others have a say. For the shy among you, find a way to speak up and don’t blame the “loud-mouths” for keeping you quiet. About every other week we will save 15-20 minutes at the end of class for sharing experiences from your placement. I will assign two people each time to decide together, before class, what issue or question you want to pose for discussion. For an example, see the “Placement/Professional Discussion” question I am posing for Week 2 (December 12). Your effort to choose a thoughtful topic and lead a short discussion will be reflected in your class participation grade.
Weekly memos in response to readings
You will submit a total of 8 1-page memos, in response to the prompts on the syllabus – through Week 17. You can choose which weeks to write a memo – keeping in mind that there are 16 weeks from which to choose (no memo assignment for week 8). EVERYONE writes a 9th memo for Week 18. They are to be written as memos to me, using headings and bullets, as applicable, and should be concise and easy to read. The “subject” line of the memo heading must include the week and which number memo of yours it is (e.g., Week 5, Memo#3). Don’t be fooled that writing “just” a one-page memo is easy. It’s harder than writing a longer one because you have to be very careful, clear, and concise. I am looking for evidence that you have read, absorbed, thought about, and applied the readings to the question at hand. You will be graded on content and writing. Writing should be logical, clear, concise, and have no grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors. To avoid the myriad problems we encountered last year – here are explicit rules about the memos:
· You must address the current weekly topic.
· They must be in my email inbox by midnight before the day of class.
· You cannot write two memos in one week.
· You cannot write a two-page memo and have it count as two memos.
· You cannot write a memo on weeks when there is no class (Spring Break, May 1, May 8) or when there are no readings (Weeks 8, 19, 20). That means you need to plan accordingly – you have 16 possible weeks to write 8 memos (plus the required 9th one in Week 18).
· You may re-write one of the first eight memos in order to improve your grade.
I spend a lot of time giving constructive feedback on your writing because I want you all to be superb writers. Therefore, I want you to pay attention to the feedback I give you and work to improve your writing. After you have submitted 4 memos, you will submit a memo summarizing the areas I have identified as needing improvement and how you are addressing them. You may submit the writing reflection memo and your 5th memo on the same week.
Policy/Politics Case Study
There is one short-term group assignment that functions like a mid-term exam at the end of Part II of the course. Groups of 2-4 (allowing for student preferences) will each present in class on Week 8 for 15-20 minutes. Each group will use concepts from seminar presented up to that point to explain the political environment that shapes policymaking around their selected issue. Each group is to distribute a one-page handout to use in its presentation (can be front/back). This is intended to be an informal discussion to educate each other on the policy issues while reinforcing the concepts discussed in this portion of the course. It could also help you think about the topic to choose for the final group project.
Fellows will self-select into six groups of three to analyze a policy issue for your final project. I will provide a list of possible topics – specific enough to get you moving but broad enough to give you the flexibility to focus it to best match your interests. The objective is to prepare an analysis of the particular issue – using Stone’s Policy Paradox in Action (pp.384-414) as a guide. Your group will (1) produce a written policy brief (not written as an academic paper but as a readable policy brief of perhaps 10-15 pages with visuals and graphics, (2) deliver a 20-30 minute oral presentation (weeks 19/20), and (3) prepare handouts (no more than two pages (front/back allowed) to accompany the presentation. Groups will not use PowerPoint for these presentations in order to have more time to work on the policy brief and handout versions of the visual aids.
Your written and oral presentation will present the results of your analysis in which you will roughly follow the model of Deborah Stone’s Policy Paradox in Action (pp.384-414). You will use (1) the tools of Policy Paradox to understand and make sense of the political and policy dimensions of the various sides of the issue, (2) the concepts from Moore about political management and the need to align mission, political support, and organizational capacity around a policy objective, (3) the research strategies of Bardach to help you define the issue and identify the appropriate sources of information, and (4) any other concepts from seminar that are relevant to use, particularly leadership issues as they relate to key players in the issue area. Other concepts likely to be useful include key features of California’s political and governance contexts, the role of the media, framing as a strategic tool, public accountability for results v inputs (i.e., how discussions about program effectiveness are carried out), and public mood and perceptions of government.
The final product should (1) provide a baseline of factual information about the issue so that the reader can understand the analytical part of your paper and presentation, (2) analyze the issue in order to explain different views on the problem and on its possible resolution, and (3) take a position on what should be done – based on your analysis. Following Stone, your position can be clear about its value basis but must reflect a systematic consideration of other viewpoints, in light of the problem you’ve defined, the goals you set out, the criteria for judging the outcomes of various approaches, and with the support of any data or information that you can put forth to justify your position. The use of data, and its visual presentation, will be important components of the project and we will spend some time discussing strategies for data presentation.
To help groups get and stay on course to complete the assignment successfully, I will ask for periodic updates about the problem definition, a list of written and personal sources, the set of alternatives/solutions and goals/criteria that you expect to analyze, a list of course concepts that you are planning to apply to your analysis, and progress in visual aids to put into the policy brief.
I will evaluate projects on the basis of the following criteria:
· A clear and compelling definition of the issue or problem
· An insightful look at the issue/problem – the good project will “turn on a light” of understanding for the reader/listener
· An analytical approach to understanding various sides to the issue
· An analytical approach to supporting your preferred position
· Application of a broad range of concepts from the course, as specified above
· Logical organization and flow to the policy brief and the presentation
· Good incorporation of data and other visuals
· Proper spelling, grammar, and usage
Students will evaluate their own contribution as well as their partners’ contributions. These evaluations will figure into the grades that I assign.
The final course grade will be determined as follows:
Seminar participation 15%
Memos (10) – includes writing reflection 50%
Policy/politics case study 10%
Final project – policy brief 15%
Final project – oral presentation/handout 10%
Public Value: Strategic Management in Government,
· Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox: the art of political decision making, W.W. Norton & Company Revised edition 2002 ($29)
• Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Basic Books, 2nd edition (paperback) ($10)
Kenneth Ashworth, Caught
Between the Dog and the Fireplug, or How to Survive Public Service,
• Eugene Bardach, A Practical Guide For Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path To More Effective Problem Solving, CQ Press, Third Edition, 2008 ($23)
· Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, Shackleton’s Way: leadership lessons from the great Antarctic explorer, Penguin Books, 2002 (paperback) ($10)
Be sure to consult the web version of the syllabus to be up to date with readings and assignments. Note that memo topics have mostly not yet been assigned after Week 8.
Any eight-month schedule of classes is subject to change. I will maintain an updated version of this syllabus on my website which you should consult on a weekly basis for possible changes to class meeting dates, scheduled topics, readings, and guests. I will indicate at the top the date of the most recent changes to the on-line syllabus.
Session 1 – October 29: The
Public Policy Institute of
· PPIC, Redistricting and Legislative Partisanship, summary: pp. iii-vii
· Legislative Analyst’s Office, fiscal analysis of Proposition 11 on redistricting
· San Francisco Chronicle, September 12, 2008, “Prop. 11 is sham redistricting reform – vote no”
Session 2 – November 6:
Various newspaper articles on
Assignment: Pay attention to election results for Proposition 1A (high speed rail bond) and Proposition 5 (Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing…) and be prepared to discuss the outcomes and the politics around them.
Session 3 – November 12: The
Assignment: Pick a policy issue that you care about and come prepared to discuss how the demographic trends and governance dysfunctions that Peter Schrag writes about are affecting the policy debates or the resolution of the issue.
Session 4 – November 21: The
· Schrag, Chapters 3-5
Assignment: Come prepared to discuss whether or not you agree with Peter Schrag’s implication (which he has raised extensively in newspaper columns since the publication of the gook) that Californians don’t want effective governance.
Session 5 – November 25: Effective Writing for Policy Audiences
Friday Seminars (20 Weeks)
Week 1 (Dec. 5) What is Public Value?
Memo Topic (choose one)
· How do you understand (at this early date) the public value provided by your department? Are there competing views among the public about the value provided? Are there opportunities to alter the mission that could increase public value?
What is your reaction to
Week 2 (Dec. 12) Public Service and Citizens
· Stone, Policy Paradox, Preface, Intro, Chapter 1 (pp. ix-34)
· Denhardt and Denhardt, The New Public Service: Serving Rather than Steering, Public Administration Review (PAR), Nov/Dec 2000.
policy area or issue of interest and explain how the polity conception of the citizen-government relationship differs
from the market conception (or, using
Denhardts’ language, how the new public
What has been the most unexpected aspect of your placement experience so far?
Week 3 (Dec. 19) Civic Engagement; Introduction to Visual Presentation Principles
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Millenials Talk Politics: A Study of College Student Political Engagement, 2007
How does civic engagement among today’s young people (or lack of engagement) relate to their attitudes about government? Is it a cause or an effect? What might be done to increase engagement, if you think that is warranted?
Kirlin, Professor of Public Policy and Administration,
PART II. The Political Environment of Policymaking
Week 4 (January 9) Governance and Political Reform Issues in
· Center for Governmental Studies, Democracy by Initiative: Shaping California’s Fourth Branch of Government, 2008, Executive Summary
· Center for Governmental Studies, Termed Out: Reforming California’s Legislative Term Limits, October, 2007
· California Clean Money Campaign website: http://www.caclean.org/
o Spend some time reading about the problem, solution, etc. on this website
o Make sure you read about AB 583 – recently signed into law.
What one or two political reforms (other
than budget reforms, which we discuss next week) do you think would have the
biggest impact on improving governance in
Choose topics for Week 8 policy case study presentation
Placement/Professional Discussion: Ariana, Gelmy
Week 5 (Jan 16) The
· Legislative Analyst’s Office, Overview of the Governor’s Budget, 2009-10
· Legislative Analyst’s Office, “Rethinking the State’s Budgetary Formulas” from 2008-09 Budget: Perspectives and Issues, (pp. 155-157) – scroll down to selected three pages
· LA Times, Why the State Budget Never Adds Up (1-page)
· PPIC, Budget Practices and State Expenditures: Lessons for California. 2007 (through p.51)
Memo Topics (choose one)
· Discuss the likely impact of the Governor’s budget proposal on an issue area important to your department or agency.
Why do you think that
Week 6 (Jan 23) Building Support for a Policy Agenda – Who is Important?
· Ashworth, Caught Between the Dog and the Fireplug, Forward, Preface, and pp.1-44.
Suggested Memo Topic
Describe an issue
on which you have observed your mentor, or someone in your office, engage in
political management. What is the
issue? Why is political management (as
Placement/Professional Discussion: Meredith, Jesse
Option for topic: Identify one thing you have learned so far from your mentor.
Week 7 (Jan 30) Political Management – Building Support for Policies
· Ashworth, pp.63-88.
Suggested Memo Topic
Placement/Professional Discussion: Chuck, Jess K.
Week 8 (Feb 6) Policy Issue Case Studies
Read – No readings
Short Group Presentations
· Traffic congestion/transportation infrastructure
· K-12 Education funding
· Public safety/prison overcrowding and reform
· Obesity epidemic and obesity prevention efforts
· Political reform – elections (redistricting, terms limits, campaign finance)
· Political reform – budgeting (ballot initiatives that set formulas for revenues and spending, two-thirds vote requirement,
PART III. Policy Design and Analysis
Week 9 (Feb 13) Perspectives on Policy Analysis
· Bardach – Entire book
· Stone – Policy Paradox in Action (pp.384-414)
Suggested Memo Topics
· Stone provides the example of the affirmative action policy controversy to show how to use the tools of her book to think about an issue, analyze and critique arguments for and against, and argue persuasively for a policy position. Bardach presents an eight-fold path that is primarily aimed at helping policy analysts develop recommendations for solving policy problems. Both are aimed at analysts, each presents a view of policy analysis, and both discuss the importance of defining problems and evaluating options in terms of criteria such as efficiency and equity. Do you find one approach more compelling, or potentially more useful, than the other? (I realize we have not yet read the main part of her book but we have read enough to give you a sense of how she understands policy analysis.)
· Describe a policy issue that you have been involved with and, using Bardach’s steps one, three, and four, define the problem, describe the alternatives that you have heard being discussed, and suggest the criteria that are either explicit or implicit in the discussions around the alternatives.
Placement/Professional Discussion: Heather, Tom
Week 10 (Feb 20) Criteria for Analyzing Public Policies
Stone, Part II: Goals (pp.35-135)
Suggested Memo Topic
Drawing from Stone’s premise that there are usually competing claims as to what specific policy satisfies various goals, in this case the goal of equity: describe some public service that is provided through a public program with which you are familiar and discuss at least two competing views about what is the fairest way to distribute the service or the resources that fund the service. Two examples: is it most fair to distribute school funding so that each district gets the same amount per student, or is some other distribution more equitable? Is it most equitable to distribute First 5 grant funds to counties on the basis of which counties serve the neediest pre-school age children? In the example you pick, describe the arguments for different definitions of what is a fair distributions and take a position as to which is most fair.
Sign up for final group topic – 3 people per group
Week 11 (Feb 27) SEMINAR WILL NOT MEET BUT MEMOS CAN STILL BE SUBMITTED THURSDAY NIGHT
Understanding the Policy Problem
Stone, Part III: Problems (pp.131-257)
Suggested Memo Topic
Stone tells us that problem definition is strategic because every description of a problematic situation is a portrayal from only one of many possible points of view. With reference to a policy issue with which you are familiar (or perhaps with the one you have tentatively chosen for your final project), describe at least two different portrayals of what the problem is and note what tools are used by those who put forth that definition (e.g., symbols/frames; numbers/data; cause-effect story).
Week 12 (March 6) The Tools of Policy Design
Stone, Part IV: Solutions (pp.259-375)
Suggested Memo Topic
Stone tells us that policy responses to problems are not typically solutions or permanent fixes but are ongoing strategies or next moves: “Policy is more like an endless game of Monopoly than a bicycle repair,” she writes. Using the topic of your final group project (if you can), describe a bit of the progress of the monopoly game. That is, describe some of the policies that have been adopted in recent years – or at least proposed – to try to move the pieces around the board (hopefully not to land in jail!). And describe how those policies have moved the issue along, e.g., have they improved things, changed the nature of understanding the problem, etc. In other words, don’t just list bills or new policies but say something about them.
Placement/Professional Discussion: Jessica, Trevor
Week 13 (March 13) Applied Policy Analysis
Stone, Conclusion and re-read Policy Paradox in Action (pp.376-414)
Suggested Memo Topic
Did the Stone book make you think any differently about the place of politics in the processes of making and analyzing policy? If much of analysis is, indeed, politically grounded, is it less valuable to the policy making process? Or, alternatively, do you find yourself disagreeing with her view that analysis is highly political?
PART IV. Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness
Week 14 (March 20) Leadership in Practice
Suggested Memo Topic
Discuss some aspect of Shackleton’s leadership that impressed you and that you think has implications for leadership as practiced in state public service.
Placement/Professional Discussion: Ashley, Melissa
Week 15 (March 27) Leading Organizational Change
· Moore, Chapters 6, 7
· Hal Rainey and James Thompson, “Leadership and the Transformation of a Major Institution: Charles Rossotti and the IRS,” Public Administration Review, July/August 2006
· Short news article on new UC President, Inside Higher Ed, April 3, 2008
Suggested Memo Topic
Final Project Updates
· Clear statement of the policy issue/problem from your perspective
· How will you justify or document that it is a problem – (not the actual data but the kinds of indicators of the problem, e.g., increase in # of uninsured children, increase in recidivism rate; CA college educated population versus other states, etc.)
· A sentence or two about alternative perspectives on, or definitions of, the problem
· A preliminary list of sources you intend to consult – documents, people
Guest: Cliff Allenby, retired former director of several state departments
Placement/Professional Discussion: Kathryn, Eric
SPRING BREAK – NO CLASS ON APRIL 3rd
Week 16 (April 10) Perspectives on Leadership
Morrell and Capparell (entire)
Suggested Memo Topic
What lessons do you draw from the Morrell and Capparell book that you would want to apply if and when you had an opportunity to lead a public organization?
Final Project Updates
· What proposed or implemented actions/solutions/alternatives will you be discussing and analyzing?
· What goals/criteria will you be using to analyze the actions/solutions/alternatives? E.g., equity (in all its complicated facets), effectiveness in addressing the problem, cost, cost-effectiveness, political feasibility, …
Placement/Professional Discussion: Lauretta, Grant
Week 17 (April 17) Leadership Strategies
· Robert Behn, “Performance Leadership: 11 Practices that can Ratchet up Performance,” May, 2004.
· John Tagg, Double Loop Learning in Higher Education, Change Magazine, July/August, 2007
· Donna Shalala, Are Large Public Organizations Manageable, Public Administration Review, July/August 1998, Vol. 58, No.4
· Three departments’ strategic plans
Suggested Memo Topic
Assess your organization’s approach to strategic planning and/or organizational effectiveness in light of the principles from the first three readings (and using the three state plans by comparison, if appropriate).
Placement/Professional Discussion: Lakenya, Nick
Week 18 (April 24) Public Service and You
· Ashworth, pp. 45-62; 121-184
Required Memo Topic
Have your own career goals changed over the course of your fellowship? If so, how and why? If not, why not and is that a good thing?
Final Project Updates
· A rough visual depiction of the issue in its environment – even if you don’t end up using this, it will be a helpful exercise
· List of other visuals you might include – types of charts or graphs, pictures, cartoons…
May 1: Interviews for new Fellows (
Final Project Updates
· List of courses concepts you think I’ll be able to recognize, when I read your final policy brief and listen to your presentation, as having been applied by your group in analyzing your issue (look broadly across the whole course – including leadership and organizational issues that we’ll be discussing during the last several weeks)
May 8: Interviews in LA – NO SEMINAR
Week 19 (May 15) Group Presentations
Week 20 (May 22) Group Presentations
Final Projects Due