Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval Form

1. Dept. Political Science & Public Administration
2. Course No. 228
3. Sem. Hrs. 3
4. Frequency Fall and Spring Semesters, one section of 60 per semester
5. Title Public Service
6. Catalog Description The theory and practice of public service and administration. The emphasis is on political processes as they affect administrative policy and problem solving in public and non-profit organizations. Prerequisite: POLS 120.
7. Is this an existing A2C2 approved Course? Yes
8. Is this a new course proposal? No
9. University Studies Category Contemporary Citizenship
10. Department Contact Darrell Downs, 457-5405,
11. Course Objective & General Outcomes



Public Service 228 introduces students to public and non-profit service and examines the political and administrative challenges most significant to the maintenance of representative democracy and citizenship in the United States. Action designed to accomplish public goals as a citizen or public employee can be jeopardized by neglecting political contexts, policy-relevant knowledge, as well as human and financial resources. This course gives students practice in cultivating skills in leadership, problem solving and decision making under realistic conditions of political competition and ambiguity.
12. Specific Course Outcomes A. Use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues

Numerous contemporary issues are addressed in this course, such as: Is government too large? Is bureaucracy "inefficient?" What type of behavior is appropriate in our elected, as well as appointed public servants? How can we judge public programs from a citizen's point of view and from the point of view of a government employee? How can political and policy- relevant statements by elected public servants be most accurately interpreted from the point of view of appointed servants and general citizens?

Critical thinking in this course is largely associated with making distinctions, comparing, identifying and weighing assumptions and choices, and ultimately evaluating alternative policy choices. Students practice these skills of critical thinking partly through their reading of related articles and book chapters, but more commonly through weekly in-class exercises. For example, critical thinking skills are practiced in class by:

  1. Distinguishing public from private service & administration—Exercise #1
  2. comparing bureaucratic and non-bureaucratic structures to alternative public problems—Exercise #2
  3. identifying values associated with responsibility in public service and assessing the relevance of current codes of conduct in public service professions—Exercise #4
  4. weighing alternatives that are involved in making public decisions are practiced in qualitative and quantitative terms in the collective bargaining , public budgeting, and public finance sections of the course—Exercises #10,11, and 12
  5. evaluating public policy/programs is the topic for Week 14, which involves the identification of criteria for evaluation--Exercise #14; conduction job evaluations to comply with comparable worth provisions in state law in Exercise #9 also requires students to practice critical thinking skills.

B. Demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values

Effective communication skills are very important for all public service occupations and/or volunteer service. Most in-class exercises in this course require students to prepare a brief written synopsis (sometimes in a memoranda format) in response to particular questions. Moreover, virtually all in-class exercises in which students are working in groups (currently, there are nine such projects) require that a spokesperson for the group be selected to present informally the results of the exercise to the class at large. In addition to the class routines that depend on oral and written communication, there are specific exercises and other course requirements that emphasize the communication of ideas, positions, and values. For example, students are required to:


  1. write (in less than one page) a clarification of the difference between partisan and political behavior based available information in Minnesota law and rules--Exercise #3
  2. contact (via e-mail) a Minnesota or Wisconsin state legislator to ask for support for a current legislative issue and/or to thank a state legislator for past service--Exercise #7
  3. prepare positions for a public collective bargaining exercise. Students playing the role of public union employees attempt to negotiate with students playing the role of the public employer. Time available for all negotiations in this scenario is limited and conditioned in a role playing scenario which emphasizes the significance of their positions to a larger public audience of citizens and media--Exercise 10
  4. investigate a public program and summarize the program and associated political problems in a brief (one page) written paper--Exercise #13
  5. research and write a five page analysis and recommendation paper on a public program (this is currently an optional project)
  1. Identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues

Accessing traditional library resources along with e-mail and Internet sources, such as the Minnesota Legislative Home Page and the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library and/or comparable sites is essential for completing required exercises in this course. Students are exposed to these tools of information as they:

  1. Conduct research to distinguish legal boundaries between partisan and political behavior--Exercise #3
  2. Conduct research to explore a public program of their choosing--Exercise #13
  3. Conduct research for optional program analysis.

D. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups

Whether exercised by elected, appointed officers, or general citizens in non-profit groups, problem solving skills are universally valuable. For some in public service, problem solving is understood as a technical challenge requiring more effective decision making techniques, and for others it is more of a challenge of leadership and building consensus to manage rather than solve problems. This course provides students with practice in both the technical and leadership perspectives on problem solving. Students are required to:

  1. design an organizational structure to address both large-scale permanent and temporary public programs--Exercise #2
  2. create a hypothetical non-profit organization (complying with state and federal law) and to develop financial ideas to support the non-profit organization--Exercise #5
  3. apply their knowledge of public budgeting techniques to revise/improve an actual budget (currently, a budget for local government snow and ice removal is used)--Exercise # 11
  4. read and discuss, as part of the last third of the course, alternative decision making theories, such as rational comprehensive, bounded rationality, and incrementalism
  5. read and discuss, as part of the last third of the course, biographical studies of leadership in elected and appointed government positions.

E. Identify principles and applications of personal, civic, and/or economic responsibility; understand personal responsibility for lifestyle choices

Effective Public service by elected and appointed officers requires, at minimum, an understanding of equality and due process along with values normally associated with responsibility, such as accountability, responsiveness, integrity, competence, flexibility, and honesty. This is the primary subject of Week Four's course material, titled "Responsibilty & Ethics in Administration." In addition to lecture material devoted to the topic of responsibility in public service, there are selected exercises that also deal with closely related ideas. Students are required to:

  1. prepare a response to hypothetical but realistic dilemmas for an individual faced with a choice to report not-so-obvious ethical violations
  2. explore and discuss the relevance (to public employees and citizens) of the Federal Equal Pay Act and more recent Comparable Worth requirements under state law
  3. discuss the significance of due process to the development of modern public bureaucracies
  1. Participate actively (e.g., class discussion, volunteerism, etc.) in issues significant to citizenship in contemporary society.

All issues of governing for public servants, e.g. building political support, developing policy-relevant expertise, and managing personnel and financial resources are significant for citizenship today. Now more than ever before, citizens have the ability to explore the administrative dimensions of governing and how they may participate in governing through elected, appointed, and volunteer action. Each class session invites this type of discussion, and one week is especially devoted to the discussion of emerging reform issues and voluntarism. Further students are required to complete a community service project in late April. Tentatively, Lake Winona, Gilmore Valley, and/or Mississippi River clean ups and fundraisers for Minnesota Sate Parks are ongoing Spring projects that would be appropriate for the assigned project--Exercise #15.





PUBLIC SERVICE 228--Fall 2001


Required Texts: Current Issues in Public Administration. 6th Ed. 1999. Frederick S. Lane. New York: St. Martin's.

Leadership For the Public Service: Power and Policy in Action. Richard A. Loverd. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Selected additional readings may also be assigned



Public service is the craft of applying resources to the accomplishment of public policy goals. This typically involves civil service and elected government employees, as well as those involved with non-profit groups and associations. The emphasis in this course is on the political issues associated with the practice of public service.

A basic understanding of political institutions and processes is needed for this course. Therefore, your successful completion of Political Science 120 or an equivalent course is required prior to this course. Guided by lectures, class discussions, in-class exercises, and assigned readings, we are setting out to explore the topic of public service and to examine the political challenges and opportunities it presents for statecraft and contemporary citizenship.



This course involves a combination of lectures and small group discussions/projects. Over the course of the semester, we will engage in several in-class exercises dealing with technical and conceptual problems of public administration. Ordinarily, I will begin a class period by reviewing key concepts or approaches in public service and responding to questions dealing with assigned reading or projects. Following the lecture portion of the day’s class, I will organize the class into groups to discuss issues or projects illuminating particular aspects of the field.


Attendance. I will not take roll in this course. I assume that on a rare occasion your personal life may take precedence over this course. However, failing to attend class on a regular basis will result in poor performance and lower final grades.


Exams. You are required to complete three exams. Each exam will be a combination of short answer and multiple-choice questions. The exams will be scheduled approximately four to five weeks apart, and each must be completed in class.


Class Exercises. Individually and/or in groups (depending on the specific exercise) you must complete at least thirteen of fifteen class exercises designed to develop and refine practical knowledge of public service. The length and difficulty of each exercise will vary depending on the case at hand, but typically it will take no more than one or two hours to successfully complete the work. These exercises will be graded on a pass/no pass basis only.




Optional Independent Research Project. You may complete a five page, typed, and double-spaced essay which describes and analyzes the implementation of a public program of your choosing. You must first identify a public program that you find interesting, and then you must explain how the program is implemented and how it might be implemented more effectively. This project will be graded by a letter grade ranging from A to F, and it will be treated with equal weight to your other three exams.


Class Participation. While your work on classroom exercises will be graded on a pass/no pass basis, I may award up to one letter grade bonus to your final grade for active participation in the course.




















Grading/Work Expectations. Your work will be judged according to the following criteria:

1. Accurate and critical use of course concepts

2. Relevant responses to assignments

3. Thorough application of supporting evidence

4. Clarity in presentation, including spelling and basic grammar

5. Originality in written and oral presentation of ideas


All essays and class assignments must be completed in order to pass this course. Your final letter grade will be based on your average grade of your three essay exams. If you choose to complete the optional research project, your research project grade will be averaged with your essays. If you miss an exam, you will be required to complete the research project as a substitute for the missing exam score. Make up exams are strongly discouraged and will be given only under unforeseeable circumstances and natural disasters.


Course Outline


Week 1. Overview of Public Service & Administration (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Foundations--art, science, & craft perspectives

Public versus Private Sectors 1 (Lane)

Exercise #1 Distinguishing Public from Private Service (small group project)


Week 2. Bureaucracy and Non-bureaucratic Service Structures (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

The Progressive Movement in Administration

Bureaucracy Growth & Change 2 (Lane)

Exercise #2 Matching Organizational Structures to Problems (small group project)


Week 3. Intergovernmental Relations (USP Outcomes A,B,C,D,F)

Fiscal Federalism/ Grants-in-Aid

Public Policy under Devolution 3 (Lane)

Exercise #3 Distinguishing Partisan from Political Behavior (individual Internet project)

Week 4 Responsibility & Ethics in Administration (USP Outcomes A,B,D,E,F)

The relevance (or not) of conduct codes

Values in Public Service and the elusive "neutral" servant 4 (Lane)

Exercise #4 Identifying Ethical Dilemmas in Public Service (small group project)

Week 5. Performance Through Organization (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Purposeful Organizations

Public & Non-Profit 5 (Lane)

Exercise #5 Creating a Non-Profit Organization (small group project)


Week 6. Organizational Politics (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Sources of Power in Administration 1,2 (Loverd)

Exercise #6 Issue Networks and Organizational Mapping (small group project)

Week 7. Leadership--Part 1 (USP Outcomes A,B,C,D,E,F)

Biographies in Elected Public Service 3-6 (Loverd) Biographies in Legislative Public Service 7-9 (Loverd)

Exercise #7 Contacting Law Makers (individual Internet project)



Week 8. Leadership--Part 2 (USP Outcomes A,B,D,E,F)

Biographies in Bureaucracy 10-12 (Loverd)

Biographies in Gubernatorial Leadership 13-15 (Loverd)

Exercise #8 Identifying Leadership Qualities (small group project)

Week 9. Managing Personnel Issues--Part 1 (USP Outcomes A,B,D,E,F)

Recruitment, Hiring, Assessment

Job Evaluation, Termination 6 (Lane)

Exercise #9 Evaluating Jobs for Comparable Worth & Equal Pay (small group project)


Week 10. Managing Personnel Issues--Part 2 (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Collective Bargaining 6 (Lane)

Exercise #10 Practicing the Politics of Public Union Negotiation (small group project)




Week 11. Public Spending Decisions (USP Outcomes A,B,C,D,F)

Budgeting Techniques 7 (Lane)

Exercise #11 Reviewing Budget Proposals (individual project)

Week 12. Public Finance (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Taxation, Tax Increment Financing

Capital Finance 7 (Lane)

Exercise #12 Raising Revenue (individual project)

Week 13. Program Analysis--Part 1 (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Formulation & Implementation 8 (Lane)

Exercise #13 Conducting Policy Research (individual Internet/library project)


Week 14. Program Analysis--Part 2 (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Evaluation & Recommendation 8 (Lane)

Exercise #14 Identifying Criteria for Policy Evaluation (small group project)

Week 15. Contemporary Reform Issues (USP Outcomes A,B,D,F)

Regulatory Reform

Technology Issues

Citizen Servants & Voluntarism 9, 10 (Lane)

Exercise #15 Community Service (individual project, may be done prior to 15th week)



All items are subject to change with prior notice.