Teaching

I teach the following courses at Tulane:

Politics of Education Policy (POLA 4110): This course examines education policy through the lens of U.S. politics. It will consider the following questions: 1) Why and how did education become such a universal issue of importance to Americans in the last 25 years? 2) How have the major policy problems within primary and secondary education been defined and by whom? 3) What have been the tools used to solve these problems and why? 4) What groups have had power in education policy debates? Which groups have not? And what explains where power lies currently? and 5) Where does New Orleans fit into the larger national picture with regard to its education system? How did this system come to be, and how well is the experiment working? The class will also focus on education policy research and students will conduct their own research through service learning projects.

Public Policy (POLA 3240): This course covers the policy-making process for domestic policy in the United States. We focus on national policies. Policies are the decisions made by a variety of political actors that set and implement a course for action on particular political problems. Thus, they are the meat of politics – without policies, politics have no real stakes. We examine the important concepts and theories about policy-making and study the policy process in its various stages. In the process, there are several case studies we examine as well as an in-depth analysis of policies related to poverty, sexual harassment, “safe havens” for newborns and job training.

Power and Poverty (POLA 4250): This course covers the politics of poverty policy within the United States, including relevant approaches to the debates over poverty’s causes, consequences and solutions; the ways in which poverty is defined and measured and how this affects the policy alternatives; the state of economic inequality in the United States; American attitudes toward the poor and policies seeking to address poverty; and, an examination of a case study of a popular program to redress poverty. The recent financial crisis has highlighted the importance of issues related to poverty. Credit card debt, mortgages that are under-water, unemployment and underemployment, and the decline in real wages in the face of ever-rising costs of living have created a great deal of anxiety about economic security. This course and the experiential components should provide students with the tools to understand how these sorts of economic and societal forces influence individual decisions and the policy making process.

Public Opinion and Voting Behavior (POLA 6180): This course explores public opinion and voting behavior in contemporary American politics. The course covers the development of political attitudes, known as political socialization, and how what we learn as children affects what we believe and do as adults. Looking at recent trends in public opinion about current issues, such as the war in Iraq, gay marriage, affirmative action, the economy, and many other issues, students will examine how public opinion is measured, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of surveys and polls. The second half of the course looks specifically at voting behavior: Why do some choose not to vote? How do voters make their decision in the ballot box? The course focuses on debunking myths and learning facts about voting behavior.

American Government (POLA 2100): This course is an introduction to the theories, institutions and processes that define the workings of the government of the United States. There is no better time to learn about the founding of the United States government and how it works today.  We will look at these issues, and many others, as we cover the basics of who, where, when and how of U.S. politics.  As such, students should be prepared to keep up with current events.

Elections in America (POLA 3150): This course is an introduction to the study of elections in the U.S. We examine and compare the U.S. electoral system to those used in other countries and discuss the implications of our electoral system on the types of candidates who run for office, the party system, and on our democracy as a whole. The course will cover presidential elections, from the nomination phase through the general election; and congressional elections. We will examine the 2008 presidential election and the on-going 2010 midterm contest as the semester unfolds.

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