Political Science | Institution analysis and Governance
Y204 | 27228 | McGinnis


Governance determines who can do what to whom, when, where, and in
whose name. Much of this activity is conducted by public officials
serving in executive, legislative, judicial, and administrative
branches of government at the local, state, national, and
international levels, but in todayís complexly networked world,
public officials contract out many of their functions to private
firms and especially to voluntary, nonprofit, non-governmental
organizations.

Institutional Analysis is a multi-disciplinary body of research that
treats rationality as the core component of human choice in all
areas of endeavor. From this perspective, institutions of all kinds
(political, economic, social, and even religious) are established in
order to facilitate the realization of potential gains from
collective action and to do so in ways that further the interests of
some actors, typically at the expense of others. These institutions
interact in ways that manifest general patterns of dynamic change,
and understanding and evaluating these patterns of interaction
constitute the core concern of institutional analysis.

Each semesterís version of Political Science Y204 introduces
students to important dilemmas of politics and collective action in
particular empirical contexts. This semester we focus on the extent
to which non-profit organizations, and especially faith-based
organizations (FBOs), play critical roles in governance, primarily
in education, health, and social policy within the U.S. and in
humanitarian assistance and peace-building in the world at large.
Students will be given an opportunity to apply the abstract
principles of institutional analysis to specific areas of public
policy of particular interest to them, by writing a paper evaluating
the contributions of FBOs to that particular area of policy. There
will also be a few exams and other exercises, and most course
readings will be made available in electronic format.

This course is required in the interdepartmental major in political
science and economics, but it is open to all students. There are no
prerequisites.