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PSC 207: Public Administration, Syllabus

revised, 8/12/19, with Canvas, Calendar and Google statement, by Jeremy Lewis.
"For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate’er is best administer’d is best."
  -- Alexander Pope. Essay on Man. Epistle iii. Line 303.

Please check the following, using your Hawks identity only:

In summer, 3 semester weeks are compressed into each summer week, and each week of readings begins on Wednesday with a test each Tuesday following; each textbook chapter (though not GoogOlympics event) should be noted in 4-5 paragraphs, and each short reading in one paragraph, submitted in the Google form for reports on readings.


Catalog Description: Introduction to theories of bureaucracy illustrated by selected case studies. Nature of institutions, staff, the political and legal environment, management and administration of public sector programs, human resources, intergovernmental relations, and effect of computers on bureaucracies.
Learning objectives, at the introductory level Expected outcomes, at the introductory level Requirements
Current academic requirements are detailed on the Syllabus in Canvas, and the Requirements page; requirements for the course adapted to course-by-conference are the same, except that any class session that is missed, shall be replaced with an essay of one typed page, single-spaced  on the session's reading or topic -- or, at the discretion of the instructor, by a tutorial session.  The weekly timetable of readings will be compressed (perhaps to five weeks) for a summer course, and a subset of readings may be selected.  Honors students: additional readings, presentations, discussion, test questions and a brief paper may be required: see Requirements page.
About the books and materials
For latest information, see the Syllabus in Canvas. Note: Resources in blue are shared with other political science courses.
Starling, Grover. 2011. Managing the Public Sector, 9th Edition. Wadsworth.

Miller, William J. and Jeremy Walling. 2013. Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Public Administration and Policy, 1st Edition.

Some other, brief materials may be linked or placed in a folder on Google Drive; such as current materials about public administration and policy in Alabama.

This course introduces you to the concepts and case studies of public administration and the theories of bureaucracy. It may help you prepare yourself for upper-level courses such as Public Policy and Organizations. We shall examine some case studies of bureaucratic outputs, some theory of the policy process, and some elements of organization theory. We shall discuss topical and controversial issues where time permits.

We will contrast the political environment surrounding American bureaucracy with the European bureaucratic environment; and US policies with those of Western European social democratic states. We may enjoy some multimedia and World Wide Web materials (equipment and time permitting) and some guest speakers. (Although we will attempt to balance speakers from different viewpoints, we cannot guarantee their availability.)

Rhythm of the class: except where current affairs intrude, we shall generally use Tuesday for discussion of principles in Starling; and Thursday for exploration of other readings, or for a brief video documentary.
Public administration as a sub-field of study
How does public administration differ from other subjects you may have already taken? You have probably already taken civics and history classes; public administration builds upon these subjects as its raw material, and shows some connections with private sector management theory. But in public as opposed to private management, you will learn of the constraints of the political environment: bureaucracies are often analyzed as complex organizations for this reason.
Many American students arrive with preconceptions about bureaucrats, that can be challenged by public administration data. Is US government unusually large, inefficient or costly compared to other nations? Do bureaucrats all sit at desks, typing monotonously upon command? Do they ignore the public in all their work; or, in fact, are they too responsive to special interests? So, expect that the readings may challenge some of your preconceptions about American public servants.
You may be wondering whether this is useful for a career.  You may be surprised that there are about 6 million federal officials from over 200 professions. In the state and local governments there are twice as many jobs again. With a public administration or political science degree, plus appropriate professional degree (MPA, MPP, CPA, JD etc) or training, you might become a police officer, city manager, public works manager, fire chief, accountant, district attorney, quality control inspector, military officer, food pathologist, forest ranger, city planner, transport consultant, policy analyst, or think tank researcher. With 18 million total jobs and great variety, public administration is a good major field for careers: one in six jobs in America is in public administration.
In most other developed countries, it is even higher. (In fact, the best French private companies usually hire top executives from graduates of the national administration school instead of business students.)
Behavior: see Syllabus on Canvas for latest statements.
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