case western reserve university



Undergraduate Public Policy Minor Program

An undergraduate minor is available to undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the economics and management programs housed within the Weatherhead School of Management. The requirements are in four categories, listed below. Substitutions can be made under exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Minor Advisor.

It consists of 15 credit hours:

A. The policy process: One course from POSC 386, 383, or 306

  • POSC 386: American Public Policy Process (3 credit hours)

    This course is designed to introduce students to the American public policy process. How is public policy made in the United States What are its goals? Why do policymakers pay more attention to some issues than others? Why do they consider some policy proposals carefully and reject others out of hand? What is the role of organized interests in influencing the process? How can programs be effectively administered and how do we measure success in achieving public policy goals?

    After a brief consideration of the political and cultural context of public policymaking in the United States, we will examine the goals of public policy and the key participants in its formation. We will then examine how political actors frame issues and mobilize support in order to set the governmental agenda. In this context, we'll assess the alternative policy tools available to government to accomplish policy goals.  Finally, we'll conclude the course with an examination of policy implementation and policy evaluation.

    POSC 383: Health Politics and Politics in the U.S. (3 credit hours)

    Health care in the United States consumes 15 percent of the national economy,
    and the share is rising quickly. Access to, cost, and quality of medical services are of
    fundamental interest to all Americans, even or especially those who are too young or too
    frail to know what their interests are. Government is involved with health care in more
    ways than anyone can count.

    These factors all make health policy important for its own sake. They also make
    evaluation of how health policy is made a good way to study politics. Instead of talking
    about institutions in isolation, this course studies politics by looking at what government
    actually does about public problems.

    Therefore this course is designed especially for two groups of students. One is
    political science students. The other is those who might choose careers in public health,
    medicine, or related fields. It may have a bit too much politics for one group, and a bit
    too much health policy for the other. I hope each will conclude that both aspects of the
    course are important and interesting.

    POSC 306: Interest Groups in the Policy Process (3 credit hours)

    Introduction to the institutions and processes that make up the political environment of nonprofit and other organizations in the United States, beginning with an examination of the role of civil society in a democracy and continuing with the framing of issues, role of political entrepreneurs and organized interests,
    elections, the legislative process and strategies for influencing it, and the roles of executive institutions and the courts.

B. Economic Analysis: One course from Econ 205 or 102

  • ECON 205: Economic Perspectives (3 credit hours)

    This course examines important contemporary and historical issues from an economic perspective. It enables students to think about the world "like an economist." Possible topics of current interest include the transformation of Eastern Europe, ethnic and racial strife, environmental policy and sustainable development, and professional sports.
  • Econ 102: Principle of Microeconomics (3 credit hours)
  • This course is an introduction to microeconomic
    theory, providing a foundation for future study in economics. In particular, it addresses how individuals and businesses make choices concerning the use of scarce resources, how prices and incomes are determined in competitive markets, and how market power affects the prices and quantities of goods available to society. We will also examine the impact of government intervention in the economy.

C. Policy making institutions: One course selected from HSTY 256, 358, 400; POSC 308, 310, 323, 384, 385

  • HSTY 256: American Political History (3 credit hours)

    From the origins of American politics in the colonial period to the present. The Revolution and Constitutional debate; presidential politics and leadership; voters and voting patterns; Congress and the courts. Emphasis both on the ideas that animated Americanpolitics and on the relation of politics to society.

    HSTY 358: America Since 1940 (3 credit hours)

    A comprehensive introduction to the recent history of the Unites States, organized around changes in national policy and politics. Special emphasis on the impact of World War II and the Cold War; the expansion of the federal government through the Great Society and beyond; the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements; challenges to the legitimacy of politics; and the efforts to maintain economic growth.

    HSTY 400: Graduate Topical Seminar (3 credit hours)

    A rotating graduate seminar, offered every semester bya different faculty member. Each semester focuses on a topic of central historiographical or methodological importance.

    POSC 308: The American Presidency (3 credit hours)

    The sources of, strategies of, and restraints on presidential leadership in the United States. Emphasis on problems of policy formation, presidential relations with Congress and executive agencies, and the electoral process

    POSC 310: The Legislative Process (3 credit hours)

    Legislative, representative, and other functions of Congress and state legislatures; legislative relations with the executive and with private interests; powers and limitations of the legislature as a policy-making institution.

    POSC 323: Judicial Politics (3 credit hours)

    Rejecting the view that judges mechanically apply the law, the study of judicial politics seeks to understand the behavior of judges as political actors with policy goals. Topics include judicial selection and socialization, judicial policy change, judicial strategy (especially the strategic interaction of judges on multi-judge
    panels), the interaction of courts in hierarchical judicial systems, the policy impact of judicial decisions, and the courts’ interactions with coordinate branches of government (the executive, Congress, state governments, state courts). Primary focus will be on the federal judiciary, with some discussion of state judicial systems.

    POSC 384: Ethics and Public Policy (3 credit hours)

    Evaluation of ethical arguments in contemporary public policymaking discourse. That is, approaches to evaluating not only the efficiency of policy (Will this policy achieve its end for the least cost?) but also the ethics of policy (Are a policy’s intended ends ethically justified or “good,” and are our means to achieve those ends moral or “just”?). Overview of political ideologies that supply U.S. political actors with their ethical or moral arguments when proposing and implementing public policy, followed by an application of these differing perspectives to selected policy areas such as welfare, euthanasia, school choice, drug laws, censorship,or others.

    POSC 385: U.S. Bureaucratic Politics (3 credit hours)

    Bureaucracy is one of civilization’s most important inventions. It is a way of coordinating very large numbers of people so as to do work, make decisions, and exercise power. Without it, much of modern life would be impossible. Yet “bureaucracy” is normally seen, in public discussion, as a problem, instead of as a solution. This course will consider both the reasons for and pathologies of bureaucratic organization. Its special focus is bureaucracy in American government. The course therefore will provide some introduction to the study of American public administration, but with special emphasis on how the work and performance of public bureaucracies in the United States is shaped by the specific tasks they are given and the distribution of power in the American political arena.

D. Two courses within a particular field of public policy, selected with the approval of the advisor. See the listings under “Policy Specialization Program” on the Policy Program website.