POLS 326-1: Government and Welfare

Spring 2008

Monday & Wednesday

 3:30 – 4:45 PM

DuSable 459


Instructor: Ms. Georgette Dumont

Email: gdumont@niu.edu

Office: DuSable 476

Phone: (815) 753-1818

Office hours:  Monday 2:00-3:30

           Wednesday 4:45-6:15, and by appointment


Course Objective 


Government provision of welfare (financial or other aid provided, especially by the government, to people in need) is linked to one part of America’s mission statement – the U. S. Constitution: “to promote the general welfare.”  It is not only mentioned once, but twice (first, in the preamble and second, in Article 1, Section 8)!  Apparently it was perceived as an important governmental function – so one side of the argument goes.  Of course, the debate is shaped around how the government is to go about “promoting the general welfare.”  Whether government should provide the general welfare is not going to be discussed in the class, but how is.


This course will introduce you to the role of government in the provision of welfare.  To accomplish this, we will look at some of the social issues in America and their impact on society as a whole, and how government contracts with the nonprofit sector to carry out welfare provisions.  In learning about government’s role as a financer of social provisions, you will also learn about the role, structure, and possible consequences nonprofit organizations have in “promoting the general welfare.”  



Course Materials 

Required Course texts:

Karger, Howard J. and David Stoesz. 2008. American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach.  Boston: Pearson.


Supplemental Material (Optional)

Lardner, James and David A. Smith.  2005. Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences. New York, NY: New Press.

Inequality Matters is also on reserve at the library.  You may read it in the library in 2 hour increments.  This should be more than adequate since the readings in this book are rather short.


In addition to the texts, students are required to create accounts on the Blackboard Course Server (http://webcourses.niu.edu) during the first week of class.  This site will be utilized for posting on-line readings, important course announcements, student grades, other course materials as well as a tool for you to communicate with me and your classmates.  If you have any problems doing this, please let me know.


As your student Z email (Web mail) account is the one I can contact you through using Blackboard, you need to also make sure that you can access that account.  I am well aware that many of you choose to use a different account, but you will need to at the very least, have your Z email forwarded to the email address you normally use.  If you do not know how to do this, access your Web mail account, select “options” then “mailbox management.”  In the first section titled “Forwarding”, where it reads “enable”, select “yes.”  Then enter the email address you normally use in the “Forward to” section. 



Calculation of Grades

Your grade in this course will consist of your performance on two exams (a midterm and a final exam), weekly quizzes, two homework assignments, one research paper, and class participation.  The following is a breakdown of how the grades will be determined:

Class participation

5%        (50 points)

            The grading scale is as follows:

Blackboard postings

5%        (50 points)

900 – 1000 – A



5%        (50 points)

800 – 899 – B




10%      (100 points)

700 – 799 – C



Midterm Exam

20%      (200 points)

600 – 699 – D



Research Paper

35%      (350 points)

< 599 – F



Final Exam

20%      (200 points)





             (1000 points)





To calculate your grade, simply add the total points earned to determine how many more points you need to get your desired grade.



Class Policies


Attendance: There is a strong positive correlation between class attendance and student performance.  Being in class affords you the opportunity to ask questions and learn from your fellow students.  Noting this, it is strongly recommended, but not required, that you attend class.  An attendance sheet will be passed around at the beginning of each class.  Its purpose is for me to keep track of those who are attending on a regular basis.  This is needed in helping my to decide your final grade in case you are on the cusp between two grades.


As noted on the syllabus, 100 of the 1000 possible points you can earn in this class are based on participation (see Class Discussion section for a more detailed breakdown).  If you are not in class, you cannot participate, and therefore you do not earn those points.  In addition, even if you are in class, and do not participate, you only earn a fraction of those points, since simply being in class is not considered participation.


If you need any more clarification, please let me know. 


Tardiness: I expect all students to get to class on time and remain in class for the duration of the class period.  If you are late, you will be marked absent.


Late assignments/make-up exams: I do not accept late work, nor do I offer make-up exams.  If you have a situation that requires an exception, you must notify me well in advance and be prepared to produce documentation.  This means do not ask for an extension the week the assignment is due!

Course Communications: Students have an obligation to activate and monitor their NIU email account.  This account will be used for out-of-class communication as well as Blackboard.

Class Discussion: As noted above, 100 of the 1000 possible points you can earn in this class are based on participation.  I do understand that some people are not apt to speak up in groups – especially large groups like our class.  Therefore, participation points are broken into two subgroups – in class and Blackboard. 

Half the points (50) are based on class discussion – contributing meaningful comments on the subject at hand.  The other 50 points are earned through posts on Blackboard. 

Blackboard: Everyone will be required to post 10 postings, worth 5 points each.  These postings will be on current events (news stories) that relate to that week’s readings or lecture (or a previous week, if the story is highly salient).  The story must be copied and pasted into the body of the posting, with your thoughtful comments/views at the beginning.  To earn full credit, you must explicitly relate the issue with an idea from your readings or class discussions.

Cell Phones: No cell phone use during class.  This includes not only calls but text messaging, internet browsing, and instant messaging as well.  Please turn your cell phones off

Behavior: I expect professional decorum in the classroom at all times.  Do not read the newspaper, talk to your friends or sleep during class. Do not come to class late or leave early.  All of these actions are not only rude to your teacher and peers, but are also not acceptable in a college setting.  

Academic Dishonesty: The maintenance of academic honesty and integrity is of vital concern to the Department of Political Science and the University community. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty will face both academic and disciplinary sanctions.  It is each student’s responsibility to become familiar with this section of the University's Academic Integrity policy of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Advising Handbook, and to follow it. 

Disabilities: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  NIU CAAR’s mission ensures that people with disabilities "are viewed on the basis of ability, not disability" and that their needs will be met in order to ensure an environment of equal opportunity.   Students should inform the instructor of any such needs, and have the needs verified through the Center for Access-Ability Resources, Health Services [Fourth Floor: Phone: (815) 753-1303] during the first two weeks of the semester.

Obligations: I expect you to arrive to class on time and prepared.  This means to make sure you have completed the readings before class.  This means be ready to answer the question noted above each reading on the syllabus.  If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.  I will make myself available to help you outside of class or office hour times if necessary.

Quizzes: There will be 10 quizzes throughout the semester that you will take online through Blackboard before class on Monday.  These quizzes will be on class readings.

Class Paper:  There is one 10-15 page research paper for this class.  The paper will be due by April 28th.  As noted above, it will not be accepted if handed in late, unless approved by me plenty of time beforehand.   The paper topic is discussed in more detail below.


Undergraduate Academic Awards: The department of political science offers award opportunities to undergraduates, both those who major or minor in political science as well as those who do not.  A list of the awards is available on the department’s website, or through this link.

Department of Political Science website: Students are strongly encouraged to visit the political science department’s website for information.  This site is up-to-date with information that will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, exploring graduate studies, researching career options, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. For important information on the Department of Political Science, please visit: http://polisci.niu.edu/

Class Schedule:*


January 14: Introduction

                        Review of the syllabus and class expectations


January 16: Social Policy and the American Welfare State

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, pp 2-22

Suggested reading:

Lardner, J. 2005.  “What’s the Problem?”  In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 15-24.


January 21: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – No Class


January 23: Social Welfare Policy Research: A Framework for Policy Analysis

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 26-36


Homework assignment due: Certified completion of the Online Tutorial on Academic Integrity, available at: http://www.ai.niu.edu/ai/students/.  Your name must be printed on the completion document! 25 points


January 28: The Voluntary Sector Today

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 146-165


January 30: The Voluntary Sector Today, cont.

Required reading:

Basic Overview of Nonprofit Organizations,” Available on Blackboard.

State of the Nonprofit Sector 2007, Available on Blackboard


February 4: Religion and Social Welfare Policy

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 39-54


February 6: Religion and Social Welfare Policy, cont.

Required Reading:

Barriers to Participation by Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Federal Social Service Programs,” Available on Blackboard.


February 11: No Class


February 13: Discrimination in American Society

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 59-102

Suggested reading:

Kahlenberg, R. 2005. “The Return of ‘Separate but Equal.’” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 54-64.

Lui, M. 2005.  “The Snowball and the Treadmill.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 65-76.


February 18: No Class


February 20: Poverty in America

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 111-139

Suggested reading:

Draut, T. 2005. “The Growing College Gap.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 89-1011.

Jenks, C. 2005.  “Why Do so Many Jobs Pay so Badly?” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 129-137.


February 25: Privatization and Human Service Corporations

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 169-198


February 27: Privatization and Human Service Corporations, cont.

Required Reading:

Salamon, L. 1995. Partners in Public Service, Chapter 6 “The Government-Nonprofit Partnership in Local Welfare Regimes,” p75-82. Available on Blackboard.


March 3: Review for mid-term: Come to class with questions you need clarification on!


Paper topic due – A one page summary of your topic, the organization and program you are studying,

and which welfare policy area it fits into.  This will be the intro section of your paper – 25 points.


March 5: Mid-term Exam


March 10: No class – Spring Break

March 12: No class – Spring Break


March 17: The Making of Governmental Policy

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 206-229


March 19: The Making of Governmental Policy, cont.

Required reading:

Birkland, T. 2005.  “Unofficial Actors and Their Roles in Public Policy.”  Chapter 4 in An Introduction to the Policy Process.  New York: M.E. Sharpe, p 79-105.  Available on Blackboard.


March 24: Tax Policy, Income Distribution, and Social Insurance Programs

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 233-249

Suggested readings:

Johnson, D. 2005. “The Great Tax Shift.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 165-477.


March 26:  Tax Policy, Income Distribution, and Social Insurance Programs, cont.

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 252-266

Suggested readings:

 Smith, D and H. McGhee. 2005. “Shedding the Retirement Contract.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 77-88.


March 31: Public Assistance Programs

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 270-295

Suggested reading:

Moyers, B. 2005.  “The Fight of Our Lives.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 1-13.


April 2:  Public Assistance Programs, cont.

Required reading:

Smith, Steven. 2002. “Social Services.” In Lester M. Salamon (ed), The State of Nonprofit America, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, pp 149-186.  Available on Blackboard.


April 7: The American Health Care System

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 302-332


April 9: The American Health Care System, cont.


April 14: Housing Policies

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 417-438

Suggested reading:

Williams, D. and J. Lardner. 2005. “Cold Truths About Class, Race, and Health.” In Larder and Smith (eds) Inequality Matters, p 102-114.


April 16: Housing Policies, cont.

Required reading:

Vidal, Avis. 2002. “Housing and Community Development.”  In Lester M. Salamon (ed), The State of Nonprofit America, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, pp 219-239.  Available on Blackboard.


April 21: The Politics of Food Policy and Rural Life

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 443-466


April 23: The Politics of Food Policy and Rural Life, cont.


*** Semester Paper due ***


April 28: The American Welfare State in International Perspective

                        Required reading:

Karger and Stoesz, 472-491

                        Suggested reading:

Salamon, Lester. 1995. Partners in Public Service. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.  Chapter 15, “The Global Associational Revolution: The Rise of the Third Sector on the World Scene”, pp 243-269.


April 30: Review for final: Come to class with questions you need clarification on!


May 5: Final Exam – 4:00-5:50 note the time change!!!!!


            * I reserve the right to make changes and adjust the schedule as needed.


Research Paper                     

The main writing assignments for this course is one 10-15 page formal research papers (be sure to follow the standard paper format provided below).  In general, late papers will not be accepted (see class policies).  The paper is due on April 23.


Paper topic: Look closer at a social policy area (welfare) that government is involved in contracting services out to the nonprofit sector.  Provide me with a background of the problem (statistics over time are always good), why the government got involved, who provided the services now, and how to they provide the said services. 


This paper will take a bit of time, so plan accordingly.  You may need to either get in touch with a nonprofit organization to inquire about what the do to solve the problem.  At the very least, you will need to look at their website (if they have one) to get a better understanding of the programs. 

This assignment is one that I want you to have fun with, and learn more about an area that interests you.  That said, on March 3, a one page summary of your topic, the organization and program you are studying, and which welfare policy area it fits into will be due.


Your research papers should follow these guidelines:


  • Include a title page containing your name, date submitted, and title of your paper.
  • Be typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, with 1” margins and page numbers. 
  • Use a style guide, such as MLA or APA, consistently throughout the paper.
  • Include an introduction of your topic.  What is the issue you are investigating?  Why should this issue interest the reader?
  • Include a literature review in which you must cite at least 10 separate scholarly journal articles or books What do the “experts” have to say about this issue?
  • Include an analysis in which you develop your argument.
  • Include a conclusion.  What have you learned from this project?  Does this area warrant future research?  If so, what direction should this research go?
  • Include a Reference section.  Remember, if in doubt you should cite a work.  Over-citing will only rarely get you in trouble, while plagiarism is dealt with severely. 
  • Follow the grading criteria below!

Grading Criteria for Research Papers

A consistent grading schema will be used, with the points available for the various assignments apportioned among a number of criteria. These will include the following (and are further elaborated below):

  • Identify the issue/state the question (10 points)
  • Get facts right (40 points)
  • Systematic, comprehensive research (50 points)
  • Write professionally (100 points)
  • Cite sources in text, correctly (100 points)
  • Logical, coherent, balanced argument (50 points)
  • Well used tables/ graphs (10 point bonus)  
  • Follow instructions (debits)



  • Identify the issue/state the question, main theme, etc.
    • Avoid the 'mystery novel' approach to professional writing.  Tell your reader in the first paragraph, if not the first line, what the paper seeks to do.  Do this as clearly as possible, with a "This paper will..." statement, if necessary.
    • Also strongly consider closing the introduction with a brief summary of how the argument will proceed.
  • Get facts right
    • Self explanatory.  Note that the likelihood of misinterpreting what you've read (or falling for a particularly biased, distorted take on an issue) is inversely related to the amount of research that you do.
    • Note that this is a class about public administration, not the management of private companies.
  • Systematic, comprehensive research
    • You must sweep virtually every broad information source when researching your topic.  It is not enough to find information adequate to reach the specified word limit.  Weak research can easily either lead to misinterpretation of the few sources found or worse, overlook entirely different perspectives on the issue.  This doesn't mean you have to read each of the 1000+ relevant sources that you might identify.  It does mean that you should sample these to get a sense of the different perspectives on a topic, and ensure that you sample these various perspectives

§         Rule of thumb #1: if your list of works cited includes only books, only journals, or (especially) only internet sites, the research was neither systematic nor comprehensive. 

          • Beware the internet!  Do not use web information unless it is from a well known, respected source.  DO NOT use/cite  Wikipedia!
      • Rule of thumb #2: engage course materials (cite course readings liberally).  You are allowed, even encouraged, to disagree with or challenge course readings and lectures.  You cannot, though, ignore these.
    • Avoid giving dictionary definitions; you can assume that your reader is familiar with standard English.
  • Write professionally
    • Self explanatory. 
    • Write for an informed lay person on the street, rather than for experts, idiots, or your class teacher.
    • Use quotations sparingly.  This is meant to be a paper by you, not a collection of selected quotes that you thought were especially relevant to the topic.
    • Use a professional tone.  Don't force it.  Some pet hates (this WILL lose you points!!!!):
      • Use third person; don't use first person (e.g. I, we, our), or second person (you).  You are not writing this from yourself, you are writing it on behalf of an organization, to an impersonal audience.
      • Don't use contractions (e.g. don't).
      • Avoid rhetorical questions (e.g. Why is this the case?).
      • Avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction (e.g. The paper was bad.  And she started a sentence with and.).
      • Avoid singular/plural inconsistency (e.g.  The student lost points for singular/plural consistency in their paper).
  • Cite sources correctly, in text and in the bibliography
    • You may use any of the standard citation methods.  Key points:
      • Sources must be retrievable.  Given the in-text citation, your reader should be able to go directly to the appropriate full citation in your list of works cited (or bibliography), and from this to the page (though this is sometimes tricky with web sites) of the document from which you got the information.
        • This means that if you cite something as (Smith 2000) in the narrative, the source should be listed alphabetically under Smith in the list of works cited.
        • Do not cite urls in text.
        • Note that you must have a proper list of works cited.
          • Everything cited in text must be in this list of works cited; anything not cited in text should not be in this list of works cited.
      • Bibliographic references should be informative on their own.  Listing a url is not enough, as your reader should be able to get some idea where the information is from, so that s/he does not have to go to the source to get some idea of credibility.
      • You don't need a quotation in order to include a citation.
      • Be spare in referring to sources in text.  For instance, do write 'Perry (1996) argues...'  Do not write, 'James L. Perry, in his chapter titled 'Effective enterprises, effective administrators' in his 1996 book Handbook of Public Administration, argues...'  In many newspaper articles, government reports, and in popularized academic stuff (like a textbook, for instance), you may see examples like the one that I ask you not to use.  But more analytical work doesn't typically do this, and I want you to practice this usage.
      • Don't cite a single source consecutively in a paragraph.  Every sentence does not need to be supported.  You can summarize extended passages of a source in a paragraph in your paper, then cite the source once at the end, indicating the pages from which it came, e.g.: (Perry 1996: 739-45).
      • Include the in-text citation in the sentence it is a part of.  Like this: the world is round (Columbus 1492).  Not like this: the world is round. (Columbus 1492)  or like this: the world is round. (Columbus 1492).
      • Don't include the in-text citation in quotation marks.  Like this: "The world is round" (Columbus 1492).  Not like this: "The world is round (Columbus 1492)," and certainly not like this: "The world is round. (Columbus 1492)"
      • When citing, always let the reader know the year the piece you are referring to was published.  I am aware that this is not mandated in MLA style, but I do mandate it. 
      • Note, again, the admonishment against plagiarism, and consult NIU's Academic Honesty Policy.  If you are caught plagiarizing, you will fail the assignment, and possibly the class!
  • Logical, coherent, balanced argument
    • Your argument should have logical structure, and be easy to follow.
      • The main body of the argument should be consistent with what you told your reader you were going to do in the "brief summary of how the argument will proceed" in the introduction. 
      • The conclusion should also be consistent with the introduction, and with the main body of the paper.
      • Remember that your reader is not inside your head, and so may not know where you are going or why you are going there if you do not make this clear.
    • These are not opinion pieces; they should be detached, analytical and balanced.  Present fairly the different perspectives on the issue.  It is not necessary (indeed is discouraged) to choose a 'solution' to the issue which you are addressing.  That is for politicians.  Simply present the evidence and flesh out the options.
  • Well used tables/ graphs (bonus)
    • Note the 'well used'.  Few people do this well, so I throw in this requirement to encourage students to develop this skill. 
    • All tables and graphs need to be self contained, including both a title and source.  They also need to be incorporated into the narrative of your paper: "as shown in Figure 4 below...The table also illustrates..."
    • Tables and graphs should be attractive and professionally presented.
    • Use of tables and graphs do not count toward the paper requirements.  In other words, the 10-15 page paper should be 10-15 pages of text, nor tables and graphs.
  • Follow instructions (debits)
    • Self explanatory.  Pay attention to the various course requirements.
    • Especially note NIU’s Academic Integrity Policy.  On online plagiarism tutorial can be found here.

Plagiarism as defined by NIU English Department:


Students faced with the task of writing a paper are sometimes tempted to borrow facts, ideas, or phrases from other writers as an aid to their own expressions. While it is possible to do this in an acceptable manner, the beginning writer in particular should be aware of the dangers of straying into the area of plagiarism. PLAGIARISM, SIMPLY DEFINED, IS TAKING SOMEONE ELSE'S WORDS OR IDEAS AND REPRESENTING THEM AS BEING YOUR OWN. It is specifically prohibited by University regulations, which state:

Good academic work must be based on honesty. 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 without identifying and acknowledging those 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. (Undergraduate Catalog, p. 47)

The essence of plagiarism is theft and misrepresentation. One who plagiarizes is attempting to get credit, in the form of a grade, for someone else's work; in effect, he or she is doing the same sort of thing as copying another person's answers on an exam. Thus guilt or innocence in plagiarism cases is not a matter of how much material was stolen or what the motives of the thief were. Any material which is taken from another writer and presented as if it were the student's own original work comes under the prohibition.

Specifically, the following are examples of plagiarism:

1. A paper or assignment actually written in whole or part by another.

2. A paper or assignment copied word-for-word or with only minor changes from a book, magazine, or other source.

3. A paper copied in part from one or more sources, without proper identification and acknowledgment of the sources.

4. A paper which is merely a paraphrase of one or more sources, using ideas and/or logic without credit, even though the actual words may be changed.

5. A paper which quotes, summarizes or paraphrases, or cuts and pastes words, phrases or images from an Internet source without identification and the address of the Web site.

Notice numbers 2, 4, and 5. Direct quotation is not the only kind of plagiarism. Taking someone else's ideas, judgments or logic, even if you put them in your own words, is as unacceptable as stealing the words.

This does not mean that outside sources may never be used. Some subjects and some assignments require research and the quotation of other writers' work. But all such use of outside materials must be properly identified, through quotation marks, internal citations, endnotes, and/or other accepted ways of acknowledging such borrowings. It is not the use of an outside source that is wrong; it is the implicit claim that any material obtained in that manner is in fact original.

Nor does this mean that every single fact that you learn from some outside source must be documented. Material which is general knowledge or generally available from many sources (such as dictionary definitions, familiar historical facts, and the like) need not be identified; a reader assumes that you got the information somewhere. In most courses, facts drawn from the textbook in that course (but not the author's judgments or conclusions) are fair game. But it is always better to err in the direction of over-acknowledgment: when in doubt, identify your source. Better yet, unless the assignment requires research, rely on your own knowledge, ideas and words.