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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: MAPP501 Course ID: 4676 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

In an increasingly complex geopolitical environment, concepts of “governance,” “polity,” and “policy” need exploration, definition, and clarity. This course lays the multi-disciplinary groundwork for this program, introducing the roots of the field and the expectations of the program. Students will explore the process of policy making, the conditions which influence administrative decisions, and the theoretical underpinnings of the discipline.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 09/26/21 Summer 2021 Session I 8 Week session
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 10/31/21 Summer 2021 Session D 8 Week session
04/26/21 - 10/01/21 10/04/21 - 11/28/21 Fall 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

1. Examine the roots of democratic principles as they apply to public policy.

2. Evaluate the policy process from design to implementation and evaluation.

3. Formulate a discipline specific lexicon through which you can describe complex social problems.

4. Examine the multi-disciplinary theoretical basis underlying the discipline of public policy.

5. Analyze models of governance in their application to contemporary policy problems.

6. Assess the conditions that influence administrative decisions.

Self Introduction: The first forum includes a self-introduction, which should include your name, where you are located (country, state, or city), what your current job title is, where you received your undergraduate degree and in what field, any information you care to share about your family and hobbies, and what you hope to get out of the course.

This introduction needs to be at least 250 words and posted during the first week of the class. Do not attach your posting to the forum, type it into the comments box. Failure to complete this forum by the end of the first week of class will result in you being dropped from the class.

Forum Questions: You will have eight forum questions, one per week, though the forum may have several parts. For our forum discussions, we will be exploring, analyzing and critically evaluating concepts raised in the readings, developed by our classmates or that come to light in current events. Students must provide a critical review of these issues and reply substantively to the contributions of at least two classmates. A few pointers for getting the most out of your forum discussions might help here: descriptions of ideas, policies or theoretical positions should appear in your post where necessary, but remember that postings should aim to be analytic in nature rather than purely narrative. Consider the concepts and arguments under discussion from different perspectives; analyze by deconstructing them into their component parts; isolate and discuss key concepts using the relevant philosophers’ views in this course to support your choices where appropriate; consider how different interpretations (or contexts) might make them problematic, or contestable, or inconsistent with cognate concepts and arguments and note these critical points in logical sequence in your post. Also, think about the kind of evidence (textual, statistical, logical, example, hypothetical) you can provide to support and bolster your position, including historical, and especially contemporary, examples to illustrate your case. Postings and replies should be free of any grammar errors and properly cited.

Your forum instructions are in the first substantive forum in week one and they apply to all subsequent forums.


Library Research Project: It is important that you have a thorough understanding of the vast resources our library offers in the area of Government and Public Policy. Our librarian has developed a short presentation and assignment to assist you.

Your Local Government: As we examine the forms and models of government, you will see that they vary considerably between states and between localities and regions within a state. After reviewing the lesson and reading material, please choose a level of your local government to evaluate. It can be anything below the state level, i.e. county, municipality, township, village, etc. You are to write a paper between 3-5 pages, explaining what level you have chosen to analyze and where it is located. You should then describe the form of government in place. Is it a city-manager model? Is there a Council? What powers do they hold? Is there a strong mayor model? How do the different components of the government interact? Finally, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this form compared to others.

Observation of Government Meeting: For this assignment you are required to attend a local government meeting or observe a virtual recording of a public meeting. This assignment can be completed any time prior to the due date. The meeting must be open to the public and part of the planning process but can be at any level of government. You are to attend the meeting then write a summary that might be publishable on the local government website. The assignment should be approximately 3-5 pages long. It should include information such as who sponsored the meeting, what was proposed, what the reaction by those in attendance was, results of a vote, and proposed future action. The largest part of the write up should be your analysis of the main issue addressed. Think along the following lines as you compile your summary: brief overview of the issue (situate in its local context and identify its importance in that context), relate how (and if) the meeting articulates what is at stake in the issue, and for which interested parties, report at what stage of the policy making process the issue is currently at along with any relevant antecedents, outline the roles of the various participants, determine who has the most influence on this issue, etc. Here is an example of a real summary dealing with “Downtown Financing Options.” While it is a little succinct and does not contain all of the elements outlined above, it does an excellent job of situating the issue, noting what is at stake, and organizing a wealth of information into a clear, persuasive report. You should find it useful.

Policy Issue Brief: Your goal for this assignment is to write a clear, concise brief that will persuade the decision maker on the issue to see the issue your way and then to take concrete action on the topic. You may approach it as a legislative staffer, a policy analyst or an advocate for a public interest group. Bear in mind that the decision maker has only a limited time to make a decision, so your brief should be no more than 5 pages long. Around 1,500 words is optimal. Your analysis should include a summary of the problem you are addressing, your assessment of the policy responses you propose, the theoretical basis for your position, any questions that remain unanswered, and finally, the action you recommend. Remember to consider the impact not only on the decision maker, but other stakeholders as well. You can browse six example environmental policy briefs here. There is a rather longer and more involved example here. While its reach goes well beyond policy making in the United States, the International Center for Policy Advocacy has a wealth of excellent resources to help you compose your brief, including worksheet templates to help you break down the components easily. The OECD and UN websites also provide templates.

Policy Town Hall: Now that you have your policy brief complete, present your findings to the class by uploading an animated/narrated PowerPoint briefing into the classroom Adobe Connect. This should just be a short, 5 – 7 minute presentation that you would present at a Town Hall meeting advocating the policy you proposed in the Policy Issue Brief assignment. This is to be uploaded in the final forum for week 8 by Thursday of the last week of class to invite “public” comment from your classmates! It should also be uploaded in the assignment tab for a grade.

NameGrade %
Forums 25.00 %
Forum 1.1 0.31 %
Forum 1.2 3.09 %
Forum 2 3.09 %
Forum 3 3.09 %
Forum 4 3.09 %
Forum 5 3.09 %
Forum 6 3.09 %
Forum 7 3.09 %
Forum 8 3.09 %
Assignments 75.00 %
Library Research Project 15.00 %
Your Local Government - Week 4 15.00 %
Observation of Government Meeting- Week Six 15.00 %
Policy Issue Brief - Week Seven 15.00 %
Policy Town Hall - Week Eight 15.00 %

Since this is a foundation course that draws from a broad spectrum of seminal ideas, thinkers and theories, there is no single required text for the course. Supplementary readings and viewings are given in the lessons for each week for students to dip into (or watch over breakfast) during the course duration as and when they require basic background, more detail, or different perspectives on selected topics. It is recommended that students select at least one supplementary source for weekly reading/viewing to inform their forum discussions further and make full use of the supplementary resources for their course assignments.

The required reading articles for each week are in the Intellus link in the lessons or online are listed below, followed by supplementary reading/viewing. If you have issues with links simply copy and paste the title in the APUS library article data base or search function and it will help you locate the resource.

Readings MAPP501

Week One: Early Political Philosophers

Required Reading:

Plato, The Republic. (2008) (B. Jowett, Trans.) Books VIII – IX. (contents page with links)

Aquinas, St. Thomas. Summa Theologica. (2006) (Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Trans.) “Question 90, Of the Essence of Law,” Article 1 – 4.

Hobbes, Thomas. (1651) Leviathan. Chapters XVIII - XXIII

Supplementary Reading:

Plato, The Republic. (2008) (B. Jowett, Trans.) Book I.

“Thomas Aquinas: Political Philosophy.”( n.d.) Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. \

Craycraft, Kenneth R., Jr. (1994) “Was Aquinas a Whig? St. Thomas on Regime.” Faith and Reason (Fall).

Finnis, John. (2014) "Aquinas' Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Lloyd, Sharon A., and Sreedhar, Susanne. (2014) “Hobbes’ Moral and Political Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Fukuyama, Francis. (2011) “The Origins of Political Order, Politics and Prose Bookstore.” April 11. CSPAN.

Week Two: Enlightenment Political Philosophy

Required Reading:

Locke, John. (1690) The Second Treatise of Civil Government.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques. (1763) The Social Contract.

de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. (2006) (Henry Reeve, Trans.) Vol. 1, Chapters I – XVII.

Supplementary Reading/Viewing:

Tuckness, Alex.( 2016) “Locke’s Political Philosophy.” 2016. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Forde, Stephen. (2016) “John Locke and The Natural Law and Natural Rights Tradition.”

Bertram, Christopher. (2012)Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Nivola, Pietro S. (2005) “Why Federalism Matters. Brookings Policy Brief Series.”

Week Three: Founding Documents

Required Reading:

The Federalist Papers # 46, 51, 67, 80.

The Anti-Federalist Papers # 45, 47, 51, 67.

The U.S. Constitution.

Lindsay, T. (2012) “Questioning the Founders-and Ourselves.” Academic Questions, 25(3), 366-371.

Walker, J. L. (1964) “The Foundations of Democracy.” American Journal of Economics & Sociology, 23(1), 19-36.

Supplementary Reading/Viewing:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. (2013) “Originalism and History.” University of Georgia School of Law. (Lecture starts at 8:56.)

Justice Antonin Scalia. (2005) “US Supreme Court, Constitutional Interpretation.” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. CSPAN.

Pequet, Gary. (1995) “Private Property and Government Under the Constitution.” Foundation for Economic Education.

Hargaden, Kevin.( 2013) “Karl Marx and the Trouble with Rights.” The Other Journal. (No need to embroil yourself in the theological discussion, just read section 2 on Marx and human rights)

Kiley, Jocelyn. (2014) “Americans Divided on How the Supreme Court should Interpret the Constitution.” Pew Research.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Issues.

Week Four: Branches of Government

Required Reading/Viewing:

Barber, Benjamin. (2013) “Why Mayors Should Rule the World.” TED Talks.

Bradley, C. A., and Morrison, T. W. (2012) “Historical Gloss and the Separation of Powers.” Harvard Law Review, 126(2), 412-485.

Supplementary Reading/Viewing:

History of the Three Branches of Government. CSPAN

The Whitehouse: Our Government.

Governing. (2016) “2016’s top legislative issues to watch.” (State level.)

Montesquieu. (1748) Of the Spirit of the Laws. Book 9, ch. 6.

National League of Cities.( 2013) “Forms of Municipal Government.”

Flag, R. (2016) “Medicaid Expansion: A Tale of Two Governors.“ Journal of Health Politics, Policy and the Law, 41(5).

Suro, R. (2014;2015;). California dreaming: The new dynamism in immigration federalism and opportunities for inclusion on a variegated landscape. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 3(1), 1-25. doi:10.14240/jmhs.v3i1.41

Keenan, R. T. (2015). Executive privilege as constitutional common law: Establishing ground rules in political-branch information disputes. Cornell Law Review, 101(1), 223 - 260.

Weil, A., and Scheppach, R. (2010) “New Roles For States In Health Reform Implementation.” Journal of Health Affairs, 29(6), 1178-1182.

Week Five: Theories of Policy Making

Required Reading/Viewing:

Petridou, Evangelia. (2014) “Theories of the Policy Process: Contemporary Scholarship and Future Directions.” Policy Studies Journal, 42, (S1): S12-S32.

Maynard-Moody, S. (1989) “Beyond Implementation: Developing an Institutional Theory of Administrative Policy Making.” Public Administration Review, 49(2).

Weimer, D. L. (2008) Theories of and in the Policy Process. Policy Studies Journal, 36(4), 489-495.

Supplementary Reading/Viewing:

Zittoun, P. (2011) “From Instrument to Policy: Observing the Meaning Process to Make a Decision.” Politicka Misao: Croatian Political Science Review, 48(5), 106-124

Cairney, Paul, and Heikkila, Tanya. (2014) “A Comparison of Theories of the Policy Process.” In P. Sabatier and C. Weible (eds.) Theories of the Policy Process. Third Edition 2014 (Chicago: Westview Press).

Graham, Andrew. Summer (2005) "Pressman/Wildavsky and Bardach: Implementation in the Public Sector, Past, Present, and Future." Canadian Public Administration, 28(2). Retreived from

Week Six: Policy and Legislative Process

Required Reading:

Zittoun, P. (2011) “From Instrument to Policy: Observing the Meaning Process to Make a Decision.” Politicka Misao: Croatian Political Science Review, 48(5), 106-124.

Weimer, D. L. (2008) “Theories of and in the Policy Process.” Policy Studies Journal, 36(4), 489-495.

Gupta, K. (2012) “Comparative Public Policy: Using the Comparative Method to Advance Our Understanding of the Policy Process.” Policy Studies Journal, 40, 11-26.

Supplementary Reading: (2014) “Policy Making: Political Interactions.” American Government Online Textbook.

Policy Making in America. IIP Digital, US Embassy

Cannan, John. (July 2013) "A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History." Law Library Journal, 105(2).

Week Seven: Policy Analysis

Required Reading:

Carlson, D.( 2011) “Trends and Innovations in Public Policy Analysis.” Policy Studies Journal, 3913-26.

Supplementary Reading/Viewing:

Lahat, L. (2011) “How can leaders' perceptions guide policy analysis in an era of governance?” Policy Sciences, 44(2), 135-155.

“Policy Analysis: Key Questions.”

Blume, Grant, Scott, Tyler and Pirog, Maureen. (2014) “Empirical Innovations in Policy Analysis.” Policy Studies Journal, 42(S1): 33-50.

Cerami, Joseph R. (2000) "Innovation in Policy Analysis." The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 5(2), 2000, article 4.

Howlett, M., and Wellstead A. (2011) “Policy Analysts in the Bureaucracy Revisited: The Nature of Professional Policy Work in Contemporary Government.” Politics & Policy, 39(4), 613-633.

Week Eight: Conclusion: Application to Contemporary Policy Problems

Required Reading:

Schlager, E., and Weible, C. M. (2013) New Theories of the Policy Process. Policy Studies Journal, 41(3), 389-396.

Nowlin, M. C. (2011) “Theories of the Policy Process: State of the Research and Emerging Trends.” Policy Studies Journal, 39 (S1), 41-60.

Navarra, D. D., & Cornford, T. (2012) “The State and Democracy after New Public Management: Exploring Alternative Models of E-Governance.” Information Society, 28(1), 37-45.

Supplementary Viewing:

Oliver, Jamie. (2010) “Teach Every Child about Food.” TED Talk.

Shirky, Clay. (2012) “How the Internet will (one day) transform government.”

Lessig, Lawrence. (2013) “We the people and the Republic we must reclaim.”

Supplementary Web Sites to Explore:

The APUS library offers a fabulous resource, the Library Course Guide. Please explore all the tabs. The Articles Tab contains many of the Public Administration Journal links and the web resources are extensive. The eReserves contain links to the article readings in the syllabus.

In addition to the required course texts, the following public domain web sites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note web site addresses are subject to change.

Site Name

Web Site URL/Address

Institute of Politics

Brookings Institution

The Whitehouse

The Whitehouse

State and Federal Courts

Federal Rulemaking

Political Philosophy/ concepts and philosophers

Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.