Political Science 331, Section 1: Introduction to Public Administration.

Instructor: Dr. Steve Berg

Spring Semester 2009

Meeting in DU 461 M-W-F: 9:00 to 9:50 A.M.

Office: ZH-107

Office Hours: M-W 10:00 to 11:50 A.M. and 1:00 to 1:50 P.M. 

Otherwise by Appointment

E-mail: or

The Final Exam is Due May 6, 2009 8-9:50 A.M.




Course Description:

Course Catalog definition of POLS 331: “Public Administration (3). Leadership, decision

making, organizational behavior, program effectiveness, and fiscal

management in public administrative agencies.”  There is some inevitable overlap of the subject material of this course with that of POLS 330, but this course is more focused on local government administration as it is frequently a stepping stone to the Masters in Public Administration Program here at NIU.  So, if you either have taken POLS 330, or are currently enrolled both courses, you will get some reinforcement of critical concepts from two somewhat different perspectives.


Expected Political Science Course Outcomes:

1.   Content: Students should show familiarity with major concepts, theoretical perspectives and empirical findings as related to the course.

2.   Communication Skills: Students should demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.

3.   Research Skills: Students should have an understanding of basic research skills and be able to apply analytical and research skills in written assignments for the course.

4.   Critical Thinking: Students should use critical thinking and skeptical inquiry in problem solving.


Required Texts:

Managing Local Government: Cases in Decision Making (Second Edition), by James M. Banovetz. 


Public Administration: Understanding Management, Politics, and Law in the Public Sector (Seventh Edition), by David H, Rosenbloom and Robert S. Kravchuk


Supplemental Readings:

When appropriate, any such readings will be made available in the Reserve Room at Founders Library.


Pop Quizzes, Midterm and Final Examinations:

The Instructor reserves the right to have pop quizzes at any time and at his own discretion.  There will be a midterm and a final exam in this class.  These will be take-home tests, and will likely consist of essay questions.  The final exam will be comprehensive.  They are due at the beginning of the specified class period.  Your Instructor has found over time that the take-home format works well.  It alleviates test anxiety and gives the student time to compose a superior examination.  Since the student is free to use any available resource, each of which is most definitely suitably noted and documented, there is really no reason that every test should not be graded as an A+.  Sadly, some students fail to appropriately seize the opportunities presented by this testing regimen.  The advantage of these examinations for your Instructor is that he gets readable text with literate answers to the essay and short answer questions.  He is not forced to try to decipher illegible scrawls on the pages of moldy blue books.  However, this particular format requires that a student be literate and a competent writer.  Amazingly, by sheer coincidence these are the same requirements that most of your future employers will have for you.  So, this is a good training opportunity.  There are few of us who cannot benefit from the services of a good editor.  Seldom do we catch our own writing mistakes.  So, make use of the writing clinics in the residence halls, or other venues.  Have a friend read over and correct your tests and papers before you hand them in.  Make needed corrections.  This same advice applies to the case study papers, too.


Case Studies:

Each Case Study Paper is your analysis of a case study in Managing Local Government: Cases in Decision Making, by James M. Banovetz.  As the bookstore seems to provide both editions of this book, please indicate which edition you are using along with the case study number at the beginning of each paper.  You are to select a case presented in the Banovetz textbook, excepting only Case Studies 1 and 21, which will be presented in the class by the Instructor, chosen according to your interests.  Each case study paper should be no more than 5 pages in length.  If you quote something from the case study verbatim, you should cite it according to author and page number.  You should discuss the background information of each selected case study and then how you would address and hopefully solve the problems in it.  A good guide to this can be the questions at the end of each case study in the book.  The tests and papers you hand in for this course are to be typed or printed by ink-jet or laser computer printers.  Other computer printers can be used provided that the output is of letter quality.  Papers and tests should be double-spaced, and preferably be in size 12 type in a standard font like Times New Roman.  As this is a college level course, spelling, command of the English language, and grammar are important elements of your work, and will be taken into account during grading.  Papers showing evidence of plagiarism will be dealt with harshly.  As an alternative to handing in tests and papers in class on dead trees, you are encouraged to use the drop box feature for Blackboard.  So far, that seems to work well.  All papers submitted electronically must be in a format easily readable by the Instructor’s ancient copy of Microsoft Word.  This means files with extensions such as .doc or .rtf.   


Late Paper Policy:

All papers, such as the case study papers and the tests, are due at the beginning of the specified class meeting.  Papers turned in after this, at the discretion of the instructor, will be docked at least one letter grade per day.  Should a student have an unexpected and dire situation such as illness or family emergency, if possible, they should contact the Instructor prior to the class meeting where the paper is due, concerning the nature of the emergency.  All such circumstances must be documented to the satisfaction of the Instructor.  At his discretion the student may be allowed to e-mail the paper, and the reduction in grade due to lateness may be waived or reduced.  Every semester your Instructor has problems with students who apparently cannot handle or meet deadlines.  Eventually you will have a boss, who being even more of a heartless tyrant than is your Instructor, will not accept late assignments.  You know about the assignments for this course from the beginning of the semester.  There is really no excuse for any late papers.  It is to your advantage to get your assignments in on time.


Participation and Attendance:

For the class to be successful, all students must regularly and meaningfully participate.  Of course, for this to occur, students must have completed all of the assigned readings prior to each class.  Students should be prepared to discuss the readings and add relevant observations based upon their own experiences.  Should participation not be present to the satisfaction of the Instructor, he reserves the right to assign topics to individual students for them to present in class.   The Instructor also reserves the right to call on any member of the class to have them contribute to the discussion or to verify a suitable level of a student’s preparedness.  If it is sadly apparent that many in the course have not read the material, or if there are other clues indicating that preparation has been lacking in the students, the Instructor reserves the right to inflict pop quizzes on the assembled multitude.  The scores from the possible pop quizzes will become part of the participation and attendance part of your grades.



Rather than considering you to be empty vessels which he will seek to fill with knowledge and virtue by means of lecturing, your Instructor believes that the course will be far more valuable, and much less boring, if we adopt as much of a seminar format as is possible in a class of this size.  This means that you all must be ready to carry your side of the work by being prepared to intelligently discuss the course material extensively and in depth.  Your Instructor has considerable experience in public administration, politics and local government, and you also have a wealth of experience to be tapped, and we shall make the most of it.  The Instructor also reserves the right to bring in suitable guest lecturers during the semester.


Students are expected to attend all of the classes.  Repeated absences are going to seriously and negatively impact your final grade in the course.  If a student misses more than two classes or is chronically tardy, the instructor reserves the right to lower the participation portion of their final grade.  Tardy students miss class material and disrupt class discussion when they come stumbling in late.  Consequently, tardiness is strongly frowned upon.  If you are in an unusual situation, such as having a class at Barsema Hall or the Engineering Building immediately preceding this one, it is in your best interest to discuss this difficulty with the Instructor to receive Special Dispensation.  The Instructor has noticed an increase of tardy students in the past several semesters.  Such boorish and inconsiderate behavior disrupts the class, and greatly irritates the Instructor.  Should this tardiness problem persist, the Instructor reserves the right to close and lock the classroom door, and the offending individuals will not be allowed to enter.  Your Instructor may do this anyway due to security problems brought to his attention by the Late Unpleasantness there in Cole Hall.  Persistently and chronically absent and tardy individuals may wind up being administratively withdrawn from the course.  Attendance will be taken and recorded, generally at the end of each class period.




Unless otherwise cleared with the Instructor in advance, all cell phones, pagers, and similar communication and entertainment devices shall be turned off during the class meetings.  It is expected that class members will conduct themselves according to classically accepted norms of civility (as understood and exemplified by the Instructor).  Students who fail to comport themselves in a courteous manner and are disruptive, obnoxious, or abusive will find themselves physically and administratively removed from the course and may face charges in the university judicial system. 



The Instructor reserves the right to have a sense of humor, and to exercise it in class.



Cheating will not be tolerated in this course.  This includes the offense of plagiarism.  If there is any doubt, please cite the sources of your materials. Quotations need to be appropriately noted in a standard format, such that the original source can be readily determined.  Works consulted for your papers need to be included in a bibliography included at the back end of the paper.   Respect for intellectual property is one of the core values of this University and also of your Instructor.  It is also imperative that you do your own work.  Those students caught committing plagiarism will at the minimum, receive a 0 (zero) on the assignment.  At the discretion of the Instructor, the student may also receive a grade of “F” in the course and be turned over to the appropriate University authorities where expulsion is a real possibility.  The Instructor of this course uses a number of effective methods to detect plagiarism.  He is known to be sneaky, devious and adept at the detection of such abuses of intellectual property.  This word to the wise should be sufficient.  Your Instructor has also been involved in group projects where he and a minority of the project team performed the lion’s share of the work.  Reflecting on this, he expects each of you to work independently and not copy, steal, or collude with others in the performance of the assignments for this course.  This is not to preclude the laudable socializing and friendships that hopefully are being formed as you trudge through the labyrinth of your academic career.  These are among the most important aspects of an education.  I trust that you are getting together outside of class for socializing and discussions. (And, also to plot against me.)   Just do your own work.  Marked similarities of work indicates possible cheating, and arouses my suspicions.  Again, plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. 


Grading Structure:

Final letter grades will be based upon the following:


Grading scale:

90% to 100% = A

80% to 89% = B

70% to 79% = C

60% to 69% = D

0% to 59% = F


The scale in use indicates that grading will not be done on a curve but as a percentage of successfully completed work. The following list shows the percentage toward your final grade for each graded exercise.  The possible pop quizzes are counted toward the Participation and Attendance part of your final grade.


Case Study Paper #1                                               10%   10 Points

Case Study Paper #2                                                        10%   10 Points

Midterm Examination                                        30%   30 Points

Final Examination                                        30%   30 Points

Participation & Attendance                          20%   20 Points

Total                                                                100%  100 Points



Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities:

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to

making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented

disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some

impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations

should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the

fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students

in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is

important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any

disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Religious Holidays:

Your Instructor has no way of knowing a student’s religious affiliation.  .  Nor, does he care so long as it does not involve involuntary human sacrifice.  Consequently, if observances of your Faith require your absence from a regularly scheduled class meeting, a prudent student will notify the Instructor in advance so accommodations can be appropriately worked out.





The Instructor of this course was a champion non-traditional student at this University.  Consequently, he realizes that most students must work in order to afford to attend NIU, and that crises and emergencies crop up in the lives of students.  Should these arise (and I surely hope they do not), prompt discussion of the situation with the Instructor is a Really Good Idea.  There are very few of us in academia who have not had to deal with our own “Semester From Hell” and often ways can be worked out to prevent total disaster from coming about.  Those students who are on scholarships requiring the maintenance of acceptable grade point averages are advised to contact the Instructor immediately should they suspect that they might be in some difficulty in the course.  This is especially true for those students with athletic scholarships.  Should any of you have a personal crisis of one sort or another that adversely impacts your performance in this course you are advised to see me immediately during my office hours.  I do not need to hear the private details, but will try to work with you to salvage as much of your grade in this course as is possible.  It is always much easier to make accommodations before the end of the semester.  Due to norms of Justice and University policies, any leniency or accommodation offered to one student must be available to all the others as well.  It is virtually impossible to do much after the semester is ended.  In the hopefully unlikely event that anyone must be absent due to a death in the family or similar tragedy, please come talk to me and give me some documentation such as a newspaper obituary and problems relating with what you missed from class can usually be worked out.   


Tentative Weekly Schedule:


Week 1 (January 12-16): Introduction to the course, explanation of the syllabus, and overview of the subject matter.  Start going over Chapter one in the Banovetz textbook,  then read and discuss the Appendix on ethics in the Banovetz book which will also be given out as an handout.


Week 2 (January 19-23): Celebrate Martin Luther King Day appropriately, and go over the case study number 21, “Fire or be Fired” starting on page 220 of the Banovetz textbook.  Then start on Chapter 1 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 3 (January 26-30): Finish Chapter 1, and start on Chapter 2 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 4 (February 2-6): Finish Chapter 2 and start on Chapter 3 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 5 (February 9-13):  Finish Chapter 3 and start on Chapter 4 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 6 (February 16-20): Finish Chapter 4 and start on Chapter 5 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk Textbook.


Week 7 (February 23-27): Hand out Mid-Term Examination on Wednesday.  Finish Chapter 5 and start on Chapter 6 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 8 (March 2-6): Hand in Mid-Term Examination on Friday.  Finish Chapter 6 and start on Chapter 7 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Spring Break!!!  March 8-15.


Week 9 (March 16-20):  Continue discussion of Chapter 7 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.  Discussion of the Case Study number 1, “Replacing the Police Chief” starting on page 15 of the Banovetz textbook.  I will go over this one so that you have a better idea on how to handle public administration case studies.


Week 10 (March 23-27):  Finish Chapter 7 and start Chapter 8 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.  The first Case Study Paper is due on Friday.


Week 11 (March 30-April 3): Finish Chapter 8, and start on Chapter 9 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk  textbook.


Week 12 (April 6-10): Finish Chapter 9 and start on Chapter 10 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.


Week 13 (April 13-17): Finish Chapter 10, and start on Chapter 11 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook. 


Week 14  (April 20-24): Discuss Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 in the Rosenblum & Kravchuk textbook.  The second Case Study Papers are due on Friday.


Week 15 (April 27): Review and Summary of the Course.  The Final Examination is handed out on Monday.


Final Exam Due: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 from 8:00 to 9:50 A. M.  Due to University Regulations, the class must meet at this time, on this date.  I have to be there, and I will be dutifully sitting on the table graciously accepting your final exam papers.  I may bring some donuts if there is sufficient interest expressed by the class.