Throughout history, basic concepts of governance and public policy have been topics of spirited debate among scholars, government officials, political operatives, and others. Many of these same topics are themes in this course. As you progress through the weeks, you are likely to encounter recurring ideas about democratic governance and public policy that may prompt you to contemplate long-standing questions such as:
Who should govern? What is the proper role of government in society? When should government intervene? Is the state the only legitimate instrument of governance? What is public policy? How should public policy be implemented and who should implement it? What role might government play in the future and what might be some major public policy issues?
The topics addressed in this course are diverse and touch on a large portion of the intellectual landscape in the field of public policy and administration. They also range in time from antiquity to infinity, and as such require you to reacquaint yourself with some of the classic works on governance and public policy, seek out contemporary information, and ponder the future.
Two distinctions need to be made. The first concerns the term governance. Readings, Discussions, and Assignments often refer to democratic governance. In some instances, the terms governance and democratic governance are used almost interchangeably. The mixing of the terms is not intended to imply that all governments are democratic; however, few governments in the world today boast of being undemocratic. The term democracy is loosely enough defined that it can be applied to a wide range of situations.
The second distinction relates to the meaning of public policy. Generally, when the term public policy is used in this course, it refers to a deliberate and proactive action by a governing body to promote a predefined outcome. It does not refer to policy outcomes that are the unintended consequence of a lack of action on the part of government.
For example, think of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There was no policy prohibiting the possession of box cutters by domestic airline passengers prior to the attacks. One of the consequences of this lack of policy was an unprecedented attack on the U.S. mainland. Although some conspiracy theorists may disagree, you would be hard pressed to argue that the official policy of the United States government regarding box cutters on airplanes was designed to facilitate terrorist attacks.
The opening weeks of the course provide a theoretical and conceptual framework for the study of governance and public policy. You are asked to read several classic and contemporary works on basic theories, concepts, and processes of democratic governance. Additionally, you explain several founding documents that helped put democratic theory into action. Then, you are asked to consider connections between classic and contemporary theories and public policy issues.
The middle section of the course centers on current and concrete aspects of governance and public policy. Policy networks are presented as the primary contextual framework for governance and public policy formulation and implementation. A variety of tools for democratic governance, including leadership, are highlighted.
Ethical issues faced by those who govern are explored, as is a look at democracy in the workplace. The final quarter of the course takes a critical look at democratic governance and some of the challenges it faces. The course concludes with an examination of approaches to democratic governance around the world and consideration of public policy as an instrument of social change.
Your exposure to the varied topics throughout the course prepares you well for the Final Project, in which you develop a case scenario showcasing how you or a professional organization with which you are associated developed, enacted, implemented, and/or impacted public policy.
Final Project DEVELOPING A CASE STUDY
For your Final Project, you will develop a case scenario. The purpose for developing a case scenario is for you to demonstrate your understanding of the materials covered in the course and relate it to professional experiences. Students producing excellent case scenarios may be asked to submit their work to the Public Administration Genome Project (PAGP).
The PAGP is an attempt to digitally “map” and employ the full set of topics (“genes”), variables, and interrelationships that comprise all the matters that make up public administration. It is based on the Human Genome Project—the effort to identify and codify 35,000 or so genes in our DNA. Few people would deny that the public administration world—like the world in general—is becoming more and more complicated.
Plus, no one could possibly know, much less remember, the many strategies, external forces, and their interconnected impacts that might apply in a particular situation. Hence there is a need for a comprehensive, logical, and readily available system to help capture such topics, variables, and interrelationships. Such a system could provide a rational and scientific approach to public administration and, as a result, further enhance the field’s impact on public matters such as health, security, and welfare.
Contributors submit source cases in a partially structured, systematic format. The cases then are placed into a wiki database known as ComPASS (COMprehensive PA Support System). There currently are about 82 cases. The full set of cases presently includes about 15,000 variables and 15,500 relationships.
You can learn more about the P.A. Genome Project from the following resources:
Dickey, J. W. (2009). The public administration (P.A.) genome project: Capturing, mapping, and deploying the “genes” of P.A. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Your Final Project must be presented as a 12- to 15-page (not including references, title page, or abstract), double-spaced, APA-formatted paper that is submitted by Day 7 of Week 11. Refer to Week 11 for specific instructions for submission.
CASE SCENARIO GUIDELINES
Select an actual event from your prior professional experience in which you or the organization(s) with which you work developed, enacted, implemented, and/or impacted public policy. If you do not have an example of a professional experience or organization, select one from the literature (i.e., reputable newspapers, periodicals, websites, etc.) with which you are familiar enough to complete this Assignment. Think in broad terms about the definition of public policy. Social change and/or an organization’s strategic agenda are acceptable.
Write a case scenario that illustrates how you or your organization developed, enacted, implemented, and/or impacted public policy.
Organize the case scenario according to the following format:
Provide the background for the case scenario. The background section of the paper must include but is not limited to the following:
- A brief description of the organization(s) involved including the country where the case originates
- A description of the policy issue and how it was addressed
- An explanation of the desired outcome or goal
- An explanation of the action undertaken to achieve the outcome (i.e., was the organization attempting to develop, enact, implement, and/or impact public policy or was it a combination of these activities and what was done?)
- A detailed description of the actual policy outcome and an explanation of the factors that may have impacted it
Provide a description of the variables that effected the development, enactment, and implementation of the public policy. Use the following prompts to help structure this section. Please note, not all prompts will apply to the event you select.
- Explain what, if any, basic democratic concepts, principles, and processes were involved.
- Explain the network interactions involved, if any, and explain what they were.
- Explain the tools of democracy or strategies your organization used.
- Describe the leaders and explain their influence on the process.
- Explain the ethical concerns and implications surrounded the action.
- Explain diversity issues involved, if any, and explain how they were addressed.
- Explain whether the action presented a challenge to democratic governance and explain how those challenges were addressed.
- Explain the role of technology in the process.
Describe the relationships among the variables you explained in the previous section. For example, did the actors in the policy network related to the event influence the type of tools used to implement a policy? Or, did social networking technology used to connect actors lead to ethical issues surrounding privacy? Be creative and think about all the possible relationships among the variables.
Share conclusions, insights, and recommendations that emerged from your experiences and the development of the case scenario. Include insights you have gained concerning how this case might have played out differently in a different country or culture as well as how the public policy might effect social change.
Provide a bibliography of all works you used in the development of this Final Project.
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