PSC 613 - State Politics and Policy

In this course we will examine theories and related research on state government and the policymaking process in the U.S. states. The course is divided into three parts. For approximately the first third of the semester, we will examine a fairly representative set of readings which span a broad range of political institutions through which policy is made. These institutions include the office of the governor, the state legislature, the state judicial system, and the various practices of direct democracy across the states. Part two of the course will be spent studying theories of the state policy process. We will examine a variety of theories, reflecting a broad range of forces that are thought to play a significant role in shaping state policy outcomes. As we will see, despite the complex and seemingly idiosyncratic nature of the policymaking process, state politics scholars have identified many systematic relationships between various institutional and contextual variables, and state policy outcomes. The insights that have been generated from this literature not only contribute to our understanding of state policymaking, but in many cases they shed light on debates that are relevant to scholars of American (national) politics, or in some cases, comparative politics. In the final section of the course, we will examine research in several substantive policy areas which have traditionally been considered the domain of the states. Our emphasis in this section will be broadened to include not just studies of policy adoption, but studies of policy implementation and impact as well.
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