POL 285 (sec 17): American Public Policy

Fall 2006

3 credit hours

Tues 6:00-8:50 p.m. AB1 310

Masoud Kazemzadeh, Ph.D.

Office: AB1, 319F

Phone: (936) 294-1462

E-mail: kazemzadeh@shsu.edu

Office Hours:

Tu   3:15-3:30 p.m., 4:50-5:00 p.m., 8:50-9:10 p.m.

Th   3:15-3:30 p.m., 4:50-5:30 p.m.

and by appointment


Course Description and Goals

This is an introductory course on American public policy. I have chosen foreign policy as the focus for this course. We will study both the process and the substance of American foreign policy.


What was the Cold War all about? What should we expect in the post-Cold War era? Do we live in a unipolar or a multipolar world since the collapse of USSR? What is the impact of September 11 on the international system and U.S. foreign policy? What is the Bush Doctrine? Are we at the beginning of the A Age of Terror @ ? Have we entered A the clash of civilizations @ between Islam and the West as Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington theorized? These are some of the questions that we should be able to answer by the end of the semester.


Studying American foreign policy is not only exciting, but is essential to an understanding of everyday life in the 21st century. Understanding the world and American attempts to deal with it is a matter of life and death. We begin with briefly discussing the main countries around the world. We will, then, study the competing paradigms of American politics, the lenses through which scholars view and analyze the actual reality. We will proceed to study, in some depth, the policy making process. After that, we turn to the making of American foreign policy. After a brief historical overview of world events in the past century, we will discuss various concepts and theories such as Realism, Idealism, constructivism, feminism, and Marxism. Finally, we will discuss several cases of American foreign policy in great detail. Throughout the course we will distinguish between description (what happened), analysis (why did it happen), and normative judgement (was it good or bad).


There is a substantial amount of materials to be read, and it is imperative for each student = s success that he or she develops a regular study schedule that permits keeping up with the assignment at all times. If you wait until the exams to begin reading, you would probably fail the class.


You are expected to watch national and international news such as CNN at least five times a week. I highly recommend PBS = s News Hour with Jim Lehrer on channel 8 Monday through Friday between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. If you do not have access to television, you should read The New York Times or the daily news from the Internet sites http://www.cnn.com or http://www.nytimes.com.


Attendance Policy

Class attendance is mandatory. It is imperative that you attend all the lectures. If you are going to miss a class, ask a friend to tape the lecture for you. Rolls will be taken periodically. Anyone with 3 absences (that are not excused) will receive an A F. @ Permission to take a make-up exam will rarely be given and only a dire situation will warrant one. Make-up exams will be harder than the one given to the entire class.


Religious Holy Day or Days

A student who is absent from class for the observance of a religious holy day or days or to travel for the purpose of religious observance may take an examination or complete an assignment within a reasonable time. The student should inform me before or immediately after the absence in writing (e-mail preferred). The student will have 15 days to complete the assignment or take the exam. If you are to miss the lecture, have a fellow student tape the lecture for you. Absence due to religious holy day does not count towards the 3 absences.


Academic Dishonesty

Anyone caught cheating will receive A F @ for the course and will be referred to the Associate Vice President for Student Services for further disciplinary action.


Attention Students with Disabilities

It is the policy of SHSU that individuals that otherwise qualified shall not be excluded, solely by reason of their disability, from participation in any academic program of the university. Further, they shall not be denied the benefits of these programs, nor shall they be subject to discrimination. Students with disabilities that might affect their academic performance are expected to visit with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities located in the Counseling Center. They should then make arrangements with me so that appropriate strategies can be considered and helpful procedures can be developed to ensure that participation and achievement opportunities are not impaired.


Course Grade will be Computed as Follows:

Map quiz     10%

1st mid-term exam   25%

2nd mid-term exam   25%

final exam     40%


All exams are multiple choice or true/false.



Edwin S. Davis, Public Policy: The Basics (Huntsville, TX: Edsal Publishing, 2005). ISBN: 0-9721978-8.

Steven W. Hook, U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2005). ISBN: 1-56802-330-8.

weeks 1-3: Introduction: Countries Around the Globe and Basic Concepts

* Hook, pp. xvi-xx, Maps 1-11.

Map Quiz


week 4: Paradigms of American Politics

* Hook, ch. 1.

* Thomas E. Patterson, We the People : A Concise Introduction to American Politics , pp. 28-34. On Reserve.


week 5: 1 st -Mid Term Exam


weeks 6-7: Structures of Public Policy (Constitution, Federalism, Congress, Presidency, Judiciary)


weeks 8-9: Substance of Public Policy (Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Right to Privacy)

week 10: 2 nd Mid-Term Exam


week 11: The Expansion of U.S. Power

* Hook, ch 2.


week 12: Dynamics of Decision Making

* Hook, ch 3.


week 13: Presidential Power

* Hook, ch 4.


weeks 14-15: Case Studies: U.S. Foreign Policies towards Iraq and Iran

* Hook, pp. 379-393.

* Kazemzadeh, A Ahmadinejad = s Foreign Policy, @ on Reserve.



FINAL EXAM     Tuesday December 12, 8:00-9:00 p.m.