Public policy puts laws into action. The executive branch directs the combined activities of the federal government to address a multitude of problems, from the environment to the economy. The policies of the United States affect social issues, economic growth, taxes, regulation, and foreign affairs. This course will take a broad view of public policy in America but will use specific examples, such as the 2008 economic downturn and climate change, to illustrate the wide-ranging effects of those policies.
We’ll address the intersection of religion and politics, and how issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage have played out in the political arena. We’ll discuss fiscal, monetary, welfare and income policy—what they are, what tools they involve, and what political divisions they create. We’ll examine partisan divisions over regulatory policy, and the basis for those divisions. Finally, we’ll trace the evolution of America’s position as a trading nation by examining trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
This course will also serve as an overview of American government, concentrating on overarching tendencies such as its fragmented power structure. The importance of these tendencies will be explained by showing how thoroughly each of them affects American politics.