This course introduces class participants to the political significance and societal consequences of challenges facing U.S. and international policymakers. It is designed to help participants develop skills to analyze policy proposals and advocate for their preferred options for issues on the public policy agenda ahead. The class assumes basic knowledge about governing institutions and democratic processes, while recommending supplemental materials for further study to complement reading links provided. The course focuses on future policy challenges, while examining the broad historical context in which policies are adopted and implemented.
As the course evaluates how issues are advanced by private sector interests, non-governmental organizations, and government policymakers, it examines how groups become effective policy advocates. Particular attention is paid to how winning coalitions are formed and how issue framing shapes the outcome of policy campaigns. The goal is neither to produce partisan talking points, nor to favor one governance philosophy over others. Rather it is to clarify the public policy challenges ahead and to enhance participants’ understanding of how policy options are adopted in the real world arena of contemporary politics.