course
Politics of Policymaking

Dec 2013

This course is in flux. This year was a brand-new course that had been completely overhauled from what from every account I heard of, was a disaster last year, taught by someone entirely different. It's entirely possible that it will change a great deal again next year. Prof Warren was one of those professors who I'd bet is a great discussion leader, but doesn't always have his heart in it when it comes to lectures. He's an easygoing and approachable guy and I always liked talking to him one on one after class if I had questions. But it seemed clear that the material he was covering in the first half of the semester (a lot of political science theory about how policies are formed and carried out) seemed pretty basic to him. When he got into real-world examples, he was more engaged and engaging, but that was minority of his lectures. Last third of the semester was taken up by guest lecturers, who were a bit of a mixed bag. Standouts included Steve Cohen, Esther Fuchs, and Lawrence O'Donnell (yes, as in MSNBC/The West Wing/Homeland). All in all, made me a bit jealous of the MIA folks in Conceptual Foundations who always seemed to be having a great time (except for the last three weeks which were apparently hell), but wasn't as bad as some of my classmates made it out to be. Besides, I don't want to be known as Missing In Action for the rest of my career (common American interpretation of the acronym MIA). Syllabus is very U.S.-centric, and even the international examples assume the presence of functioning democratic systems. You won't be learning much that applies to places like China or Russia, for example.