Political Science | Politics of US Domestic Policy (3 Cr)
Y665 | 3489 | Bickers


This research seminar provides an overview of the literature on the
politics of U.S. domestic policy and gives students the opportunity
to initiate a research project on a domestic policy topic of their
choosing.  It is designed for graduate students specializing in the
field of public policy in the political science program, as well as
for students in the joint Ph.D. program of political science and the
School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The seminar will concentrate on three areas of American domestic
policy: social policy, regulatory policy, and distributive policy.
We will try to gain an understanding of the patterns of growth and
change in each of these three policy areas during this century by
addressing several theoretical issues.  We will focus on differences
and similarities across types of policy goods, utilizing Lowi’s
policy typology, as well as the distinction between private goods and
different types of public goods, the distinction between delivered
policies and co-produced policies, and the distinction between costs
and risks.  We will look at the role that federalism plays in the
formulation and delivery of policies, by considering principal-agent
and top-down models and by considering the range of actors to whom
responsibility for producing policies is often delegated.  We will
focus on the roles played by different political actors, including
policy entrepreneurs, legislators, executives, and bureaucrats.  We
will consider the range of policy instruments available for
implementing policies different types of policies.  We will examine
strategies available to political principals to try to predetermine
policy outcomes through the design of bureaucratic structures and
procedures.  And we will examine the evolution and operation of
policy subsystems around particular policy areas.
A key objective of the course is to provide students with an
opportunity to engage in original research on a topic related to the
themes of U.S. domestic public policy.  The course will culminate in
a one-day conference in which each student will present a draft of
his or her project and have it critiqued by three of the other
students in the seminar.  The conference will be held at my house,
and, while informal, the delivery and critique of the projects is an
important and integral component of the course.  A final draft of the
paper, incorporating revisions suggested by the critiques, will be
due approximately one-week after the conference.