The Politics of Public Policy (PUBPOL 510)
This course introduces students to the political environment of public policy, in cross-national perspective. It helps them assess the components of a political environment and use this assessment to develop strategies for intervention. Its comparative approach allows students to see differences in political systems, culture, and advocacy across contexts, in order to make them better policy professionals. Students learn about politics and policymaking in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
This course is also designed to introduce students to communicating, both orally and in written form, in the policy environment. The major project is a role-playing exercise. Students are split into teams, and each team focuses on a pending policy somewhere in the world. Each member of the team roleplays a stakeholder in the political debate regarding this policy, and must write a series of memos—of varying lengths—that allow him or her to think critically about how the stakeholder might try to influence the political environment to achieve his or her desired outcome. The project culminates in roundtable presentations at the end of the term, where each team has an opportunity to offer the various stakeholder perspectives on the pending policy and engage in a question-and-answer period with an audience of their peers.
You can view a recent copy of the syllabus here.
"PubPol 510 with Professor Shobita Parthasarathy prepared me for writing in the policy world. She stressed writing succinctly and purposefully and thinking with a strategic mind. The practical skills I gained in her class were invaluable to my successful internship with General Motors and my current career in science policy in Washington, DC. I can't thank Professor Parthasarathy enough for the preparation I received in her class at the Ford School, and I would encourage any incoming MPP student to enroll in her class." MPP student, 2015.
"How would regulation of a new technology be different in Germany compared to the United States? How would this happen in India? Comparison is the key to PubPol 510, where Professor Parthasarathy’s class on the political environment of policymaking focuses on science and technology. Comparing the same science and technology issues in different countries was a great learning tool to understand that scientific facts are not enough to justify a particular piece of regulation – the convergence of social, political, and cultural values when approaching technology play a significant role in shaping policy too. This latter point especially is important for graduate students in STEM fields who want a broader view of the reciprocal interaction between science and policy, and want to be more effective advocates for science-based policy." --PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences, 2014.