POLS 220:  Introduction to Public Policy
(8/21/06 version)

Bruce Rocheleau
Division of Public Administration
(Located on second Floor of ASBO Building at corner of Lincoln Hwy and Carroll Avenue)
DeKalb, Illinois 60115
Office Hours:  W:  2-4 and by appointment
You can contact me by email at brochele@niu (Note: Occasionally, I have problems with this e-mail so if you don't hear from me after a couple of days,  an alternative e-mail address is tp0bar1@wpo.cso.niu.edu)

We will be exchanging information on the Blackboard site for this course:  http://webcourses.niu.edu/   In order to logon to the site, you need to know your Logon ZID which is available from Information Technology Services.  Please let me know if you have trouble logging on.  We use this site for exchanging information via an on-line discussion group.   It can and should be used for a number of purposes including these two important ones:  (1) Raising Issues, Asking or answering questions,  and providing feedback for the instructor and/or other members of the class; (2) Posting of materials for classroom presentations and discussions.  The instructor encourages you to use electronic access to ask questions--he checks his electronic mail on most days and will try to give you a quick response. If you need assistance in using electronic mail, please consult with him.

The blackboard system forces students to use only Student Zids as their e-mail address--this means that you may need to access your student e-mail accounts to access e-mails sent via Blackboard. 

An electronic version of this syllabus is located on the above website. If there should be changes to the syllabus, they will be posted as a revised syllabus on the course website and it is your responsibility to check for them.  I will also be posting notes and review questions for this class at the course website.  So, it is important for you to check this course website and print off the notes prior to coming to class.  This should enable you to focus more on the substance of the class rather than just note-taking. I will also ask that you post your debate and possibly other materials on the course website so it is important to know how to do so.  If you have trouble, I will be glad to help out.


This course will provide students with an introduction to public policy.  Students will learn about factors that determine the outcomes of the public policies.  Students will learn how to identify key actors and forces in policy areas and how to make policy recommendations.  They will also learn how to employ their knowledge of the policy process to form a plan to advance the cause of their proposed policy recommendations. 

Required Texts:
Eric Redman. The Dance of Legislation.  (paperback)
James E. Anderson.  Public Policymaking. (paperback).
Issues for Debate in America Policy:  Selections from The CQ Researcher. 7th edition.  paperback. 

We will also be discussing current public policy issues and students are expected to follow these events through reading or listening to good quality newspapers/radio/television/Internet coverage of these issues.  Students will also be required to do electronic reserve readings on the World Wide Web. You are responsible for accessing, printing and reading these materials. Please let the instructor know if you have problems concerning accessing these materials.  Students are also responsible for obtaining copies of the Notes and Review questions which the instructor will make available on the public administration website noted above. There will also be optional electronic reserve readings on the Internet. 

Students will be tested on these materials as well as the texts.

Grading Philosophy:

Your course grade will depend on the following components: (1) Participation (20 %); (2) Group-presentation and outline (20%); (3) Term paper (20%); (4) Midterm (20%); (5) Final (20%).

In this class, I will try to maintain the integrity of the grades of "A" and "B". A grade of "A" means truly exceptional work, far above the norm and expectations for the class. A grade of "B" means good, above average work. A grade of "B+" means very good, well above average. Normally, only a small percentage of students attain a grade of "A".

Note: I would like to get both a hard copy and  a digital copy of your paper(s).  Please use the digital dropbox in Blackboard and not regular e-mail to get it to me.  If you do not know how to use the digital drop box, the instructor will be glad to assist you.  There will be a penalty if you do not provide me a digital copy of your paper(s). 

Participation including Quizzes (20 Percent) Participation will include attendance, participation in classroom discussions and presentations, and performance on quizzes and  homework assignments. It is expected that you will come to class having done the assigned readings for that day and be prepared to discuss them. For certain topics, I ask that you access the Internet and read or search for materials on topics related to our course. You will then be expected to discuss these materials in class. Discussion of texts and Internet materials will count towards your participation grade.  It is, of course, expected that you will give polite attention to the instructor and other speakers in the class.  

Audience participation in the follow-up discussion of the presentations of topics by groups in the class will also count towards participation.  Participation will also count any written assignments such as the statement of your topic and other written homework assignments that are made. Participation may also include discussion of your term papers.

Participation will also include the sharing of useful information (e.g., good questions and/or answers to questions) on the class discussion list and also may include email to me.  Please note that if a student sends me e-mail related to the class and I believe that the student's questions and comments are relevant to the rest of the class, I may forward the email to the entire class.   You should periodically check out (e.g., at least once a week) the discussion list for this course and make comments when you have a reaction to something you read or want to contribute something relevant to this course.  I will keep track of the quality and quantity of your web contributions and take these into consideration in assigning your participation grade.  Participation also includes classroom decorum such as civility and appropriate behavior such as keeping cell phones turned off, paying polite attention to other speakers--see below. 

Unannounced quizzes will be given and will count towards the participation grade. They will be aimed at checking to see if students have done the reading for the classes.  They may include short answer, essay, true-false, or multiple choice.  If students are absent for a quiz, they will be given a grade of "F" for the quiz.  The quizzes may count up to 1/2 or the participation grades (or 10%). 

Please note that for many of the classes, I expect to post questions and outlines of points that we will discuss in the classroom.  Students are strongly advised to print off a copy of the outline and bring it to class.  However, I will be providing more details, information, and explanation than are in the outline.  

Note that I pass around an attendance sheet. If you come to class late or miss the attendance sheet, you are responsible for signing the sheet that same day. If you do not do this, then you may not get credit for your attendance regardless.  Attendance counts towards a significant portion of the overall participation gradeThe instructor makes notes on who participates from the beginning of the class and, after the midterm, begins to assign a participation grade (pluses for excellent participation) after each class.  

"NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandates reasonable accommodations be provided for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (815-753-1303). I look forward to talking with you soon to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course."

Classroom Decorum counts toward participation: 

Cell phones should be turned off and students should not leave early from class unless there are extraordinary circumstances (e.g., an emergency, medical condition, or some other contingency previously approved by the instructor).  If you do need to leave early for a legitimate reason, it is expected that you will let the instructor know about this ahead of time.  Of course, it is expected that you will pay attention to the instructor, students, or guest speakers during class. Students are free to express disagreement about policy issues with the instructor and/or other students but discussions of disagreements should always remain civil in nature and focused on policies, and not be personal in nature.  Failure to adhere to these expectations will result in loss of credit toward the participation grade. 

Use of laptops is restricted to formal classroom purposes of taking notes for the class.  If laptops and/or cell phones cause distraction to the class, they must be turned off or the student will need to remove himself/herself from the class. 

Group Policy Position Paper:  20% 

Each student will sign-up to participate in a policy-formulation group.  These groups are to achieve the following tasks:  (1)  They will collaborate in researching the policy issue they have been assigned and identify the key actors (including groups, organizations, etc.) and forces that influence the policy under consideration;  (2) Students will form a consensus as to the position(s) they support concerning that particular policy or policies and will draw up a statement of their policy position(s) and their proposal for policy changes (or defense of reasons as to why policy should not be changed); (3) They will present and defend their policy position(s) to the class on the day assigned; (4) The group will identify and employ insights gained from readings and classroom presentations and discussions to support their policy proposal and why they think this policy proposal will be successful. (5) The group should discuss how they arrived at their policy position--describe the process and what factors influenced their choices.   Thus groups will provide a hard and digital copy of the policy proposal the day that it is due.  The digital copy should be sent to the digital drop box of the instructor as well as posted on the Course Blackboard Discussion List.  The group policy paper should include the following elements:  (1) A review of the policy issue--what is the current policy (or policies) in this area and how did it (they) come about; (2) Who are the key actors and forces that affect this policy; (3) What proposals for change (or reasons why there should not be a change) in this policy; (4) A statement of reasons supporting your proposal; (5) An analysis of the feasibility of your proposal--how would you go about employing knowledge gained about the policy process to successfully implement your proposal.  In the presentation to the class, the group should discuss how they arrived at their policy position--describe the process and what factors influenced their choices. 

The grading of the group paper will be based on a variety of criteria including the following:

(1) How good a job does the group do in presenting their policy proposals both in written form and the verbal presentation to the class.  It also includes how well the group defends and is able to answer questions concerning their policy position.  It is expected that the audience including both other students and the instructors will raise challenging questions to the group and they will be able to demonstrate their mastery of the policy area in responding to these questions and comments.  (2) How well-written is the policy proposal and to what extent do the written and oral presentations demonstrate a mastery of the information and materials from the class including the texts and classroom discussions and presentations? (3)   To what extent does the paper show a good understanding and analysis of the existing forces that affect policy in this area?  Does the paper show a mastery of the text and classroom discussions that have taken place that are relevant to the issues discussed in the policy proposal? (4) What is the quality of the research and logic used to support their policy position?  (5) How effectively do they describe the process used to select their policy proposal?  (6) How effective is their plan for implementing the policy--does it show a good understanding of the policy process based on the readings, classroom presentation, and discussions?   Your group position should include an annotated bibliography of the sources that you used in analyzing the policy.  This means that you should have a paragraph explaining how each source assisted you in developing your policy position-paper.

Normally, everyone in a group receives the same grade.  However, if I receive documented information  that a group member (or members)  did not participate adequately in the preparation of the group paper, then those persons may receive a lower grade than others in the group.   

Term Paper (20 percent) :

You will select a policy area that you are interested in and develop a term paper concerning this policy.  The term paper must not be about the policy you do for your group paper.  The term paper will do the following:  (1) It will analyze the policy area, identifying forces and actors that influence the policy; (2) It will developed a reasoned proposal in support of a particular policy change or position and this argument will take into consideration opposing viewpoints; (3) You will develop a plan for accomplishing your policy proposal that will demonstrate your understanding that you have mastered the materials and information learned from this course.    The paper must be approved by the instructor.  The paper should be well-researched and demonstrate that you have mastered the existing information on it. Your sources should include a variety including academic journals, books, government reports, and other sources. When relevant, you are also encouraged to do INTERVIEWS and/or PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION which can be cited as sources.

You should include an Annotated Bibliography of at least 10 very appropriate sources excluding texts and at least 3 of these should be peer-reviewed articles and/or books.    This means a minimum of 10 quality sources that are very relevant to your work.  You are strongly encouraged to include not just web publications but other types of sources that are not available on the Web such as refereed articles, book and book chapters, and interviews with persons knowledgeable and relevant to your topic.  This means that each reference should have a paragraph attached to it explaining how this reference was useful to the paper.  The annotation should discuss how this particular publication (or source) was relevant to your research/paper.  This annotation helps me to judge the quality and relevance of your sources. It also helps to discourage plagiarism.   Thus the quality of the annotations counts significantly towards your grade.  If you conduct interviews, the name, position  of the person being interviewed (or brief explanation of the relevance of the person if it is not obvious from their title), and the date of the interview should be included in the bibliography. 

It is required that a student will do her/his paper on a topic different than their Group topic.  

Citing Web publications:  I prefer that you use the American Psychological Association (APA) citation format.  The following website has a link to instructions on how to do APA format as well as how to cite electronic publications as well as other assistance for writing term papers at following websites:  http://www.niulib.niu.edu/cite-articles.cfm  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/index.html   The latter website discusses how to learn how to paraphrase--i.e., summarize the gist of a statement from a publication in your own words.  For web publications, you should provide the full URL of the publication, the date of the publication, and be sure to print off the publication in case I need to check it since many publications "disappear".   It is also important for Web publications to identify what the nature of the "author" is.  Is the author a governmental organization (if so, which?), a member of some think tank or academic institution, or a private individual or some non-established (e.g., ctr. to think tanks noted above whose work is respected) group or some unknown entity?   You should check with the instructor if you have questions.

Quoting and Plagiarism:  If you use the exact words of a source, you must put quotation marks around those words and cite the specific author and source (and page number if available) from which the quote is taken. 

If you paraphrase (i.e., you use the author's ideas but translate them into your own words) an author's points, you STILL need to cite the author and publication but you do not need to put quotation marks around the words.  Long quotations (more than a line or two) should be indented and single-spaced. 

The paper (main body, excluding bibliography and appendices) should be A MINIMUM OF 6 pages (double-spaced, normal 1" margins),  no larger than 12 point font.

The paper should show evidence of critical thinking and depth. Although you will be advocating for a particular policy or position, your paper should demonstrate that you have studied and considered sources from other viewpoints and deal with potential objections to your argument.   This will be one of  the significant evaluation measures for the paper.

The paper should demonstrate mastery of concepts and information gained from this course. In particular, it should demonstrate idea of how to go about creating an effective plan to successfully implement your policy (e.g., get it passed into legislation and/or implemented effectively).

A paragraph in which you clearly state your proposed topic for your term paper is due no later than Oct. 19th.

The term paper will be due on November 16th.   There will be a penalty for being late.

Criteria for Grading Term Paper:

The grading of the paper will include the following criteria:

(1) The quality of the presentation including writing style, spelling, grammar, correct footnoting, and bibliography styles (Don't forget Annotated Bibliography).. Of course, the pages should be NUMBERED. The footnoting should follow and be consistent with one of the major styles (I prefer the APA style.  The paper should have complete sentences.  The paper should be well organized in terms of sticking to the point, making transitions, and providing an adequate conclusion.  

(2) The degree to which the paper develops a strong argument, supported by a variety of quality sources, interviews, participant observation, and logic. Again, papers should demonstrate depth and deal with potential objections to the position which you are advocating.  Thus the paper should have a clear thesis.    The paper should avoid long quotations that remain unanalyzed or are "thrown in" without context. The paper should develop and offer strong support for this thesis.  

(3) The degree to which this paper focuses on issues of this class and makes use, if relevant, of texts, other readings, lectures, and discussions in the paper.   This would include the analysis of the actors and forces involved in your policy issue as well as the identification of an effective way of implementing (e.g., getting it passed into legislation and/or effectively implemented).   This analysis should demonstrate a mastery of the information presented in the texts, lectures, and discussions in class. 

(4) The degree of effort involved in the paper is important. In other words, the paper should look like you have spent a great deal of time on it. In particular, the quality and diversity of the sources used for the paper will be important.

(5) The originality of the paper. I am looking for innovative ideas and evidence that you have thought deeply about your sources and synthesized their information.  

(6) The quality, quantity and appropriateness of the sources you use.  Your sources should reflect diversity (e.g., don't over-rely on just web sources).  They should include at least 3 peer-reviewed publications.  A peer-reviewed publication is an article in a journal that has the articles reviewed anonymously or a book from a recognized publishing company.   I will be looking at how well you use and integrate the sources into the body of the paper--if they are listed at the end but not any use made of them--they will not count much.  They should be annotated in the bibliography where you will discuss how you made use of them and I look carefully at the quality of your annotations.  Original data such as that gathered through interviews and/or participant observation can also be valuable. 

(7) Timeliness: Any papers that are late will suffer a penalty. Students are responsible for keeping a copy of their paper.

Plagiarism Statement: "The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." Northern Illinois University Undergraduate Catalog.  The basic point is:  Don't plagiarize. 

All direct quotes must be footnoted with the specific page numbers. If a quote is longer than a line or two, it should be indented and single-spaced. You also need to FOOTNOTE IDEAS that you have borrowed from someone even if you do not use direct quotes.  So, if you are using someone's research even if you have altered their words, you still need to reference the source. 

It is assumed that this is an ORIGINAL PAPER that has not (or is not) being used for another class. If it is discovered that you have used this for another class also, the paper will receive a grade of "F."

Midterm and Final Exams (20 percent each)

The Midterm will take place on Oct. 12th.   The final is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14th, 10-11:50AM. Note that the same policies apply to the midterm as the final concerning missing it or being late for the exam. The same criteria will also be used to grade the midterm as the final exam (see below) which will consist of short and longer essays.

The midterm will normally be a combination of structured questions, short and longer essay questions. The essays will be graded on a number of criteria including the following:

Comprehensiveness:  Does the essay discuss all points thoroughly?

Style: Is the essay to the point? Is it clearly written? Are supporting examples and data used to support generalizations?

Readings: Does the essay make use of the readings/lectures when appropriate and show a mastery of the reading/lecture material for the class?

Opposing Viewpoints:  Does the essay show an awareness of opposing viewpoints?

Synthesis: Does the student raise any innovative ideas in her/his response? Does the student synthesize lectures, texts, and other materials in responding to the question, going beyond "regurgitation"?

Handwriting should be legible or you may be called in to read the exam to the instructor.

The Final: 20%

The final may consist of a combination of structured and essay questions.    The essays will be judged on the basis of the degree to which you meet the criteria above as well as the extent to which you demonstrate an in depth understanding of the texts,  lecture notes, the optional readings for the course, and other materials from this course that are relevant to this question.   Remember that a strong, in depth answer will give attention to opposing viewpoints . 

Policy on Test-Taking and Incompletes: It is the policy of the Political Science Department not to give incomplete grades except for extraordinary reasons (e.g., serious illness that would make test-taking impossible and can be verified by a note from a physician). Thus students will receive an "F" grade unless they can provide verifiable evidence of extraordinary reason why they were unable to take the final.

Lateness to exams is the responsibility of the student and no extra time is guaranteed. The exams of late students will be graded using the same criteria as for other exams.

NOTE:  The dates below are tentative and may change. Students are responsible for keeping track of changes and especially showing up on days in which they are due to make a presentation.

I. Introduction:  Overview of Public Policy Making Process

8/29, 8/31,9/5, 9/7

Anderson, Chs. 1&2

II. Case Study:  The National Health Service Corps:  Development and Longer Term Outcomes. 

9/7, 9/12, 9/14 

(Note: We will be applying the discussion of Anderson Chs. 1&2 to the Redman book)

 Eric Redman:  The Dance of Legislation.

Also read the follow-up article by F. Mullan, The National Health Service Corps in the new Century, Health Affairs, 18(2).  Full-text source: ABI_INFORM_FT 

Be ready to discuss this case study and how it illustrates or contradicts points made in the Anderson chapters.  What lessons do we learn about the policy making process from it?  What additional points are made concerning the policy-making process does the update by Mullian? 

III.  Policy Formation:  Problems, Agendas, and Formulation

Anderson, ch.3
9/14, 9/19, 9/21, 9/26

Case Studies:  

9/21:  CQ Issues:  Ch7: Minimum Wage.   ___________________________________

9/26:  CQ Issues:  Ch.4: Drug Safety  _____________________________________________

IV.  Policy Adoption  9/28, 10/3, 10/5, 10/10

Anderson, Ch.4


10/5:  CH.6:  BIRTH CONTROL Debate  _______________________________________

10/10:  Ch.8: Domestic Energy Development _______________________________________

Midterm: Oct. 12th

V.  Budgeting and Public Policy  10/17, 10/19, 10/24, 10/26
Anderson, Ch.5  


10/24:  Ch.12: Pension Crisis _________________________________________

10/26:  Ch.9: Climate Change  _______________________________________

VI.  Policy Implementation, 10/26, 10/31, 11/2, 11/7

Anderson, Ch.6


11/2:  CH. 15: Illegal Immigration  ___________________________________

11/7:  Ch.2: No Child Left Behind ______________________________

VII. Policy Impact, Evaluation, and Change 11/9, 11/14, 11/16, 11/21

Anderson, ch.7


11/16:    Ch. 16: War in Iraq  _____________________________________

11/21:    Ch.11: Death Penalty Controversies ________________________________________

VIII.  Catchup, Conclusion, Review, and Remaining Cases  11/28, 11/30, 12/5, 12/7

Anderson, Ch.8


11/30:  Ch.11: Identity Theft.   ____________________________________

12/5:  Ch. 5: Upward Mobility _____________________________________

Final Exam:  Thursday, December 14, 10-11:50AM