United States Public Policy

Dr. Jim L. Riley - Prof.

Fall, 2004

Regis University

Class Meetings:  MW 2:30-3:45, ALC 138

Office Hours: Friday By Appointment
 Monday 10:00 - 12:00
 Wednesday 9:30-2:00
 Office: O'Sullivan-N
 Office Phone: (303) 458-4974
e-mail: jriley@regis.edu
Web Page: http://academic.regis.edu/jriley

TEXT:  Understanding Public Policy (11th ed.)

Thomas R. Dye

The first sentence in the Regis Mission Statement reads: "Regis University educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society." Understanding the nature of politics in its broadest sense is crucial to this goal. This course seeks to expand the political knowledge of students such that each of them is better able to become capable and responsible leaders in our society that is so deeply penetrated by things political.

1. USE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SYLLABUS: This syllabus is a most important guide for you in understanding what it is this course is designed to accomplish and how it is organized to achieve its stated goals. Moreover, specific ground rules, obligations, and responsibilities are described below.  By a careful reading of the syllabus, you will obtain a clear idea of what we will be doing in this class throughout the semester. It serves as a series of guideposts enabling us to maintain some clear focus on the subject at hand.  The dates and deadlines contained below will be adhered to, barring unforeseen exigencies requiring modification. Daily assignments will not be given in class inasmuch as a complete semester's assignments is included at the end of this syllabus. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with each day's assignment and to complete it prior to class time.

2. COURSE PURPOSES: This course shall focus directly upon the public policies of the United States with particular attention to national policies. Students will be asked to explore a variety of policies of important to this country. We will examine the policies as they exist and explore possible alternatives to those policies. Particular emphasis will be given to those policies impacting the economy of the United States.  At semester's end it is to be expected that those students who have completed the course successfully will have developed not only an enhanced understanding of United States public policies, but will also be imbued with a desire to know more about these most important American phenomena.

3. COURSE OBJECTIVES: The specific objective of the course is to achieve knowledge levels within students such that they will be able to perform "satisfactorily" or better in the following areas: (1) examinations -- students will be expected to respond accurately and completely to questions covering course material; (2) out-of-class projects -- students will be expected to complete a research project utilizing concepts presented in class; and (3) in-class-discussions -- students will be expected to participate frequently and positively in class.     

    The quality of work will be judged in accordance with the degree to which the following criteria are present in written work: accuracy of information, critical thought, clarity of message, organizational coherency, use of the intellectual tools presented in the course, technical precision and correctness (especially in our-of-class papers), sharpness of focus, presence of indicators of thoughtful consideration of issues examined, depth of analysis, and creativity.

4. NOTE TAKING: In order to achieve a desirable grade in this class (presumably reflecting one's level of achievement), it is necessary to take "good" notes of three types: class notes, text notes, and research notes. These should be in the form of full and complete sentences, organized in outline form (major and minor headings being present).  Class notes should summarize material presented in class so that you may later recall what was put before you there. Text notes should condense and summarize the material given to you by the author. Research notes serve the purpose of recording that which you have gathered through your out-of-class research.   Generally, the purpose of notes is to store, organize, and make information more readily available so that it can eventually become knowledge. It is utilitarian in nature, that is to say, it is designed to serve some larger purpose. If you find after a few meetings that your notes are not very accurate or helpful in organizing and understanding the material, meet with the instructor at your first opportunity.   One final point, you should review notes taken at the previous meeting before going to class on any given day. This five or ten minute review will prove valuable in various ways.

5.  CLASS FORMAT:  Because the size of this class is relatively small student participation on a daily basis is essential.   During the semester each student will periodically be asked to lead the class discussion on various aspects of the subject under consideration.  Notification of this assignment will be given in advance of the day such leadership will take place.   Details will be given in class.  This will constitute a very significant portion of the evaluation given by me for class participation.

6. STUDENT-PROFESSOR CONFERENCES: You are invited and encouraged to come by my office whenever you would like. Although I can be found frequently in my office at times other than during regularly scheduled office hours, those scheduled hours are given above. Occasionally, I may be called out of the office during scheduled office hours, but for the most part I will be there when indicated.    Certainly we should meet if any problems develop with regard to your participation in the course, but this should not be the only reason for getting together. Feel free to drop by for a visit for any reason. If my office hours are not convenient, arrangements can easily be made to meet at another time.

7. GRADING POLICY: I shall make every effort to adhere faithfully to the grading standards set forth in the Regis University Bulletin while relying upon my professional judgment to make the necessary applications of these standards. Grades will be determined by student performance, both in and out of class as set forth in the section on examinations. "Borderline" grades will be decided using class participation as the primary deciding factor. This includes asking thoughtful questions, making pertinent observations, and generally demonstrating an interest in the subject at hand.

    At the end of the semester any student with a course GPA of  "B" or better may choose to accept that GPA and corresponding letter grade in lieu of taking the final examination.  Each grade received will count for one-third of the course grade.   If this option is accepted the student will be required to prepare a 3 - 5 page thoughtful written evaluation of the class.  This evaluation will have no bearing on the grade in this class (or any other for that matter). 

8. EXAMINATIONS: There will be two (2) examinations during the semester and a final examination at the end. The examinations will each count for 25% of the course grade.  Twenty-five percent will come from the out-of-class project outlined below.  It is the policy of this class to permit no make-up examinations. There are two exceptions to this policy: (1) instances where a particular student has a verified medical excuse or (2) a personal exigency recognized and approved by the Professor. No make-up exam will be permitted without a written request. Students missing a regularly scheduled examination and not meeting either of the exceptions will receive a Fail for that examination. An old test will be made available for review.  You may bring to class on each examination day five 3" x 5" note cards on which any information may be written but may not be copied. Previous tests will be made available.  It should be noted that the examinations (and out-of-class papers) will be graded blindly. Each student will affix his/her student identification number to all papers. This will eliminate any personal factors from the grading process.

9. CLASS DECORUM AND ATTENDANCE POLICY: Three unexcused absences are permitted without penalty. "Cuts" beyond this will result in the course grade being lowered by 0.2 points for each day missed beyond the allowable three "cuts". All absences are considered "cuts" unless explicitly excused.    Once roll is taken students entering the class late will be counted as absent for that day. This policy is instituted to discourage chronic tardiness which has become increasingly prevalent in recent semesters.  Moreover, students are expected to remain in the class for the entire duration of the class. If there is a need to leave prior to the end of the class period please have the courtesy to inform me prior to the beginning of the class.  During class I request that all students, as a matter of courtesy, remove their hats and refrain from eating. Bringing a soft drink or coffee to class is acceptable (although spills are always a potential problem). Disagreements on the subjects under discussion will not be allowed to devolve into arguments or personal criticisms.

10. STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES: Each member of the class is expected to read the assigned material prior to class time. A reading of the material must be accompanied by the taking of written notes on what has been read. These text notes will be supplemented with notes taken in class. Thus, it is necessary that students attend class regularly (see the attached policy regarding class absences). You should also keep abreast of political events in the United States and the rest of the world. This means reading a newspaper daily, watching the news on TV (especially the Lehrer New Hour on PBS TV), listening to NPR (AM 1340), and reading a weekly news magazine such as Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.  Finally, in addition to READING, TAKING NOTES, AND ATTENDING CLASS, students are expected to study and think about the material to which they are exposed and to be prepared to write on and discuss the subject examined.

11. OUT-OF-CLASS RESEARCH PROJECT: Each student must complete one of the two following projects.

(1) A standard library research project utilizing no less than seven separate sources of information.   Students choosing this option will select a manageable topic on U.S. public policy that is interesting to you and to provide an incisive and probing investigation therein. The prospectus for this project should consist of a tentative table of contents, a title page, a one paragraph narrative describing the project, and a listing of at least five anticipated sources.  It is also expected that extensive use will be made of the Internet to complete this project.

(2) A thorough review of one scholarly article: The article chosen must be no less than ten pages in length. The article is to be summarized and analyzed separately. The prospectus for this paper shall consist of two full bibliographical citations of articles selected by the you. One of these will be recommended by the instructor as most desirable. (Note that news magazines, newspapers or other "popular publications" are not to be considered scholarly in nature.)

    The final paper shall consist of a separate summary and analysis for the article read. A copy of the article used must be attached to the final paper. Grades for this project will be based in large measure on the presence of an insightful critique of the article: its content, style, methodology, "readability," and persuasiveness.  For each of the projects the following requirements shall apply. The project should result in a typewritten or computer printed paper of approximately 2,500 words (about 10 pages). In addition to the body of the paper, there must be a title page, a table of contents, headings within the body of the paper, footnotes or end notes, and a complete bibliography of all sources used. A one-page prospectus for the final paper is due by e-mail on October 4.  This will be returned to each student and must be attached to the final paper which is due in class on November 15. Late papers will be heavily penalized. The final day of the semester will be devoted to oral reports given by students on the project completed. Each student will prepare a one or two page synopsis of his/her project and distribute one copy of this to each member of the class on December 1.    

    The papers will be evaluated, critiqued, graded and returned. Students wishing to have the opportunity to submit a revised and presumably improved version of their paper may do so by submitting their initial paper on October 27. A revised version of their paper will then be due on November 15. The revised paper will then be re-evaluated, critiqued and graded. This latter grade will be substituted for the one assigned for the original paper.  This re-submission is an option and not a requirement but is available only to those who meet the October 27 deadline. Late papers will be heavily penalized as will papers with technical errors, superficial and/or careless summaries and analyses. If the revision option is completed the original graded paper must be attached to the second submission.

12. PROCEDURAL QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: As a general rule, technical errors (i.e. typographical mistakes, misspellings, sloppy erasures, sentence fragments, etc.) totaling in number an amount greater than the number of pages in the paper, will result in grade penalties that become more severe as their frequency increases. Moreover, papers which deviate significantly from acceptable form (i.e., incorrect or missing footnotes, incorrect or missing bibliography, incorrect or missing table of contents, etc.) will likewise be penalized. Proper form may be gleaned from a careful review and use of Kate Turbian's A Manual For Writers of Term Papers, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, or other commonly used form guide.

13. CONTENT QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: Regardless of the option chosen each out-of-class project must contain information that indicates thoughtful consideration of the subject under examination. Well organized structure, focused discussion, clarity of message and reasoned evaluations will all enhance the paper's value.

14. USE OF THE INTERNET: You are encouraged to use the Internet to locate and access material suitable for the out-of-class assignment. A useful place to start is my web-page. It contains numerous links to useful web sites of a political nature. I also encourage you to locate any new web sites that other students of politics might fine helpful and interesting. When appropriate I will add them to my web page with proper acknowledgment to the student who found it/them.

15.  ACCOMMODATION OF DISABILITIES: For information regarding Regis disability services policies, visit the web site of the  Office of Disability Services.

16. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  It is expected that students will act honorably in all activities related to this course and will refrain from any form of academic and professional dishonesty or deception in the classroom, clinical, and other learning settings. These behaviors include cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, falsification of records, and aiding and/or abetting dishonesty.

17.  E-MAIL UTILIZATION:  I will communicate by e-mail frequently with individual members of the class as well as the class as a whole.  To this end each member of the class needs to provide me with his or her e-mail addresses. Every student should have a functioning e-mail account no later than September 1.  I will gather e-mail addresses in class.  It is expected that each member of the class will check his or her e-mail messages daily.

Semester Schedule


8/30 Course Introduction (none)

9/1  Political Analysis (Ch. 1)

9/8, 9/13, &  9/15  Models of Politics & Policy Making Processes (Ch. 2 & 3 & in class videos)

9/20  Policy Evaluation (Ch. 15)

9/22 & 9/27  Criminal Justice (Ch. 4)

9/29 Examination #1

10/4 & 10/6  Health and Welfare (Ch. 5)

10/11  Education (Ch. 6)

10/13 & 10/18  Economics (Ch. 7)

10/20 & 10/27 Taxation (Ch. 8)

11/1 & 11/3  Trade and Immigration (Ch. 9)

11/8 Examination #2

11/10 & 11/5  Environment (Ch. 10)

11/17 & 11/22 Civil Rights (Ch. 11)

11/29  Federalism (Ch. 12)

12/1  Defense (Ch. 13)

12/6  Homeland Security (Ch. 14)

12/8  Student Reports (Synopses)

12/15 Examination #3  8:00 - 10:00 a.m.