Health care? Immigration? Climate change? Same-sex marriage? How do decisions on these and countless other major public issues get made in America? This course provides the answers by giving students an interdisciplinary introduction to public leadership and policy making in the United States.
Students will begin by exploring important theoretical and empirical studies of leadership styles and the relationship between American politics and civil society. Then they will examine examples of public leadership and sites of public policy making from the local community to the national capital. In each section, discussion about specific individuals and issues will be used to illustrate the role of leaders and particular institutions at every level of American public life.
The course will conclude by asking students to blend their understanding of theory and practice in American public leadership and policy making by analyzing an important current issue individually and as a class. Throughout the course, students will also be introduced to the primary skills of effective engagement in political and civic discussion, deliberation, advocacy, and action.
Students who successfully complete this course should develop the following:
- A basic understanding of public leadership, public policy making, and the primary institutions of the American polity and civil society
- A basic understanding of the core concepts and working vocabulary of American public life
- The ability to use interdisciplinary research on American political and civic leadership and policy making to analyze major public issues
- The ability to find and analyze key sources of American public life such as legislation, government reports, judicial decisions, biographies, memoirs, newspaper and other media articles, and nongovernmental agencies and advocacy group websites
- The ability to work with those who hold opposing views and devise effective solutions to public problems through democratic decision making
- The ability to take informed and principled stands on major public issues and to communicate them in an effective and persuasive manner in a variety of venues
- The ability to become an effective public leader