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Political Science 253

Introduction to Public Policy

Credits: 3

Length of Course: 14 weeks

Classroom hours per week: 4 hours

Prerequisite: PSCI 100 (Introduction to Political Science) or PSCI 202 (Introduction to Comparative Politics)

Corequisite: English 100

Text: Public Policy in Canada: An Introduction. 6th EdLydia Miljan. 2012. Oxford University Press: Toronto

Course Description:

How does a government decide to tackle an issue like climate change? Why does a government choose to address wait times in hospitals one way instead of another? When and how do governments know their new public security measures are working? This course examines the development of public policy with a focus on Canadian goverance issues. Course content is split into three broad themes. First, students will be introduced to the policy cycle and foundational theories in policy making and governance. Students will examine challenges and opportunities associated with multi-level governance structures, policy implementation and its evaluation. Second, students will explore pertinent policy issues in the contemporary world, with particular focus on indigenous policy and governance, social policy, health policy and economic policy. Finally, students will engage with a number of critical perspectives that have often been under-conceptualized in traditional governance structures, as well as strategies for ensuring that these underserved consitutencies are, not only heard, but their interests are served. Namely students will examine the evolution of perspectives in policy making relative to gender, the LGBTQIA community, ethnic minority communities and immigrant voices. Throughout this course students will also develop the research and writing skills necessary to effectively intervene in public policy debates and engage with governance issues. 

 Upon completion of this course students will know the key theoretical concepts of the public policy process. They will also understand a range of different approaches to the policy cycle as well as the different stages of this cycle. In this way, they will build a practical understanding of/gain practical knowledge about the issue of governance.  Furthermore, students will be able to effectively participate in key theoretical and practical debates surrounding core policy issues both related specifically to Canada and to the world more generally. Finally, students will be prepared to identify and engage in discourse examining the underrepresentation of diverse groups in the policy making process, as well as strategies to empower these groups and give them a greater voice. 

Course Outline:

PART 1 Building Methods, Theories, and Research
Week 1 Introduction - What is Public Policy? How Do We Study It?
Week 2 Theoretical Approaches to Public Policy Making
Week 3 Policy Making and Multilevel Governance
Week 4 Approaching Policy Implementation
Week 5 Policy Evaluation: When and How do we Know When a Policy is Successful?
PART 2 Contemporary Issues in Policy Making
Week 6 Public Policy, Macroeconomics and Globalization
Week 7 Social Policy and the Welfare State in Canada
Week 8 Indigenous Voices and Issues in Policy Making 
Week 9 Environmental Policy
Week 10 Health Policy
PART 3 Critical Issues in Policy
Week 11 Finiding Space for Gender and LGBTQIA Recognition in Public Policy
Week 12 Multiculturalism, Ethnicity and Public Policy
Week 13 Deliberative Democracy in Policy Making
Week 14 Final Exam


Participation 10%
Project 15%
Assignments 30%
Midterm 15%
Final Examination



Matt Wadsworth, PhD (ABD); MPA

Transferability: see