PMAP 4301 (Local Governance)
Sparks 327, W from 7:15-9:45 PM
Course Number: 84902


Local Governance

This is an introductory course for public policy students and others interested in the management of local government. The course encompasses public administration, political science, management and other subjects. Students will learn more about the issues and challenges facing local governments, the linkages between academic theory and practice, and the knowledge and skills needed for success as a local government manager and in related fields, such as planning, economic development. real estate, and nonprofit and public management.

 

Required Textbook

There is no required textbook for this class. Readings will be assigned week-to-week, drawn from GSU online resources and the Web.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the structure of local governments in the United States. (Assessed by the midterm and final.)
  • Be able to describe the leadership structure of local governments and the roles of elected officials and administrators. (Assessed by the midterm, the final, and the case assignments.)
  • Learn how local administrators can achieve effective community leadership and also help to enhance the effectiveness of the governing body.(Assessed by the midterm, the final, and the case assignments.)
  • Learn how to enhance local government policy implementation and the role of performance management and evaluation. (Assessed by the midterm and final.)
  • Understand the intergovernmental environment and the different interconnections between local governments, state governments, and the federal government. (Assessed by the midterm and final.)
  • Enhance the writing and analysis skills needed to be an active participant in the local government management environment. (Assessed by the business plan assignment.)
  • Investigate and gain specialized knowledge about a local government problem or issue that relates to career and/or personal interests. (Assessed by the business plan assignment.)
  • Gain experience working with a team to solve local government problems. (Assessed by the case assignments.)

As described here, this syllabus provides a class plan. There may be errors that need to be corrected at some point, and deviations in this plan may occur for any number of reasons, illness, the weather, et cetera.

This online syllabus is a dynamic document and it will be updated as the need arises. I recommend that students review the syllabus online rather than printing and storing an original. Students will be notified of any changes, of course, but it is easy to lose track of these events across a lengthy semester.

Office Hours

I will hold formal office hours on Tuesday from 3:00 until 5 in room 316 of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Meetings can also be scheduled at a mutually convenient time. I will also be answering questions via telephone during office hours. You can reach your instructor by telephone at (404) 939-1235. Stay on the line, if I am away, and you will get my voice mail. This is a Google Voice number, and it rings multiple phones, emails me messages, et cetera. There is no need to call multiple numbers to reach me. Electronic mail can be sent via the Internet to gstreib@gsu.edu.

Online office hours (using Elluminate) are available on request for students with access to a computer and a headset microphone. Online meetings are often very effective for issues involving student papers or exams, which we can work on together in an online meeting, rather that discussing in the office. Click here to enter my online office (though I will not be there unless you first arrange a meeting time). You can type-chat in Elluminate, but the best scenario is for everyone to have a headset. A $10.00 model will do the job. Some computers now come ready for online communications right out of the box, so you might want to see what your computer will do before you buy anything. There is a video available to help you get your headset working. There is also an audio set-up wizard in Elluminate under the tools menu. You can also dial in: 571-392-7703; PIN: 705625686%.

The 4301 Class on the Web

Using D2L benefits everyone by speeding up the grading process, keeping all class documents in one convenient place, and giving students better information about their class performance. Help make it work!

All class work must be submitted on D2L, and there are no exceptions to that rule. I give students extra time if the system is down and occasionally if they experience a technical problem of some kind, but all work needs to end up on D2L eventually. Again, when I say no exceptions, this is exactly what I mean.

The D2L assignment tool shows your submitted files, and you can even view them. There is no reason to ever submit the wrong file or wonder if your file was actually submitted. Learn the features of the assignment drop box. I allow resubmissions up to the assignment deadline, if you submit the wrong file. There are always benefits to planning ahead.

I will sometimes send work back to students and offer the opportunity to produce a revision or resubmit an assignment. Watch for new dropbox activity!

I grade most assignments using Turnitin, which is linked to D2L. Turnitin has a plagiarism check, which I also make available to you. I can also provide comments using Turnitin. You access the Turnitin features from the submission dropbox by clicking on the blue box. The originality report addresses plagiarism, and the GradeMark is where you get my comments. You can get an originality report and then submit an updated version of your work, but not if you wait until the last minute to make your initial submission. Think about this.

You should know that Desire2Learn is very unforgiving on deadlines. You are absolutely locked out, and I need to give you access again. Missing the deadline does not allow you to submit your assignment using email. You will need to wait until I manually give you access, and this wait time can and will add to you late penalty.

The Midterm and the Final Exam

There will be a midterm and a final exam in this class. I prefer to have students write essays, but this class is to large for that approach. I am going to try something new, and I am not exactly sure what that is going to look like. Some initial thoughts:

I do not want to do an exam in class. I want you to be thinking (synthesizing, analyzing, and evaluating), not memorizing. That said, we also need to reward students for being attentive these days.

I am picturing something like a scavenger hunt. You answer questions and tell me where you found them. Because some students cheat and because I want you to think, there will also be some short answers in a claim and case format. Will cities define our future? Give three reasons why or why not and list your sources.

This exam will use the D2L quiz feature. Good writing really matters to me. Doubt my word on this and I will flunk you. No kidding.

The Case Analysis Assignment

Each student in this class will participate in the analysis of a local government decision problem as a part of a team. Full credit will require completing two tasks: (1) Prepare a short case analysis memo (one or two single-spaced pages) where you define a case problem, recommend a course of action, and present a conclusion. And, (2) participate in a team presentation of no more than 10 minutes in length. Know your audience. Is it the public, your appointed supervisor, or elected officials?

First of all, the case analysis memo must be a memo. This is not a short paper. Memos are clear and concise. The memos for the case analysis should be no more than 2 single-spaced pages in length. You will receive additional instruction in class, and you will have a reading on writing memos. Applying the policy thinking model to your analysis is essential. The case memo is not due when you present; memos must be submitted here in D2L before the start of the next scheduled 4301 class. Late penalties apply.

Obviously, attendance at the presentation is required. Students have some latitude concerning when they present and forfeit presentation points if they do not show up for their team presentation (no exceptions). Presentations are not easy to grade, but showing up and staying within the allotted time limit matter, as does evidence of using the policy thinking model. Professionalism is good, but I am not going to deduct points if students are nervous. Relax and enjoy your presentation!

For grading purposes, each presentation group will provide a sign-in sheet with the names of all students presenting. The case analysis memo will be submitted on D2L.

Students must submit their own case analysis document on D2L in a single file, and their name should be part of the file name. Papers not meeting these requirements will be returned. The "team" element of this project is the presentation, and all group members must work together for the presentation of a group recommendation. Students are free to submit their own ideas for the case analysis that is submitted on D2L. Bottom line: the case analysis is not intended to be a group product.

Again, the class is large, so some or all cases will probably be presented twice. I think that this is best because the cases are way more fun if many have read them. Having to many makes this less likely. I imagine that sometimes the second presenters do not have much to say that is new. Adapt. Change your presentation strategy if you know you are second and focus more on the key elements of the case. The first presentation will probably give more details about the situation.

Using Grammarly

Simply put, anyone not using Grammarly better be a grammar nazi majoring in English. Knowing how to write well is essential to your future success, and the university is failing you if we fail to enforce strict writing standards. Save the texting-style writing for a more appropriate place.

In part, writing quality at universities has suffered because teaching students to write well is very time consuming. This may have lead students to think their poor writing is actually OK. This is not so. I want to see my students end up in top jobs (or top graduate schools), and this very often means interacting with people who do know good writing when they see it. One of the goals of this class is to raise the bar on writing quality, and the Grammarly software can help us achieve this goal. Students are encouraged to use Grammarly for everything they write.

Class Engagement

This is something we need to work on. We are not here are the university for a drive-through education. Showing up, reading, and asking questions are all good. I will try to learn who is doing these things. Show me. I will give credit for doing more, though. I will give students a couple of minutes of class time to present some class-related thoughts, for example. Maybe you were involved in something interesting in the city? Maybe you learned something in another class? I really enjoy the class blog. You can post there, and you can respond to things I post. More? I will give outstanding students up to 50 extra credit points for engagement. Not engaged? That is fine, but you get nothing.

Plagiarism or Cheating

Students need to do their own work in this class. This is essential to mastering the knowledge and skills that we cover. Students plagiarizing or cheating in any form will face disciplinary action that could result in receiving an ”F” in this course, suspension, or expulsion from the University. Make no mistake, your instructor will act on evidence of plagiarism. If a student is ever unclear as to what constitutes plagiarism or cheating regarding work on written or oral presentations, please consult the student handbook and/or your instructor.  It is the student’s responsibility to know the meaning of plagiarism and when it occurs. The following is reprinted from the GSU Student Handbook: 

Plagiarism is presenting another person’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism includes any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgement, including the summarizing of another student’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism frequently involves a failure to acknowledge in the text, notes, or footnotes the quotation of the paragraphs, sentences, or even a few phrases written or spoken by someone else.  The submission of research or completed papers or projects by someone else is plagiarism, as is the unacknowledged use of research sources gathered by someone else when that use is specifically forbidden by the faculty member. Failure to indicate the extent and nature of one’s reliance on other sources is also a form of plagiarism. It is also plagiarism to reuse material you prepared for different courses in the same program. The student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources, the appropriate ways of acknowledging academic, scholarly or creative indebtedness, and the consequences of violating this responsibility.

Areas that may need more clarification include the following

  • You may not reuse material developed for other classes in this class.
  • You may not collude with other students (or anyone else, for that matter) on the development of your work for this class. Hiring an editor for your writing is not allowed, for example.
  • Needless to say, you cannot copy blocks of text from other sources and submit this work as your own, and adding a footnote does not make this OK. Direct quotes require quotation marks and a citation. Grammarly and Turnitin check for material copied from the Internet. You absolutely will be caught for plagiarism in this class and punished with an F on individual assignments. (An F on the Business Plan would have you hoping for a D as a final grade.) Repeated problems will ratchet up the penalty.

More information about the GSU plagiarism policy can be found here.

Grading Weights and Standards

Final course grades will be determined as follows:

Course Component

Available Points

Case Analysis Memo

150

 
Case Presentation 50
   

Mid-Term Exam

400

   

Final Exam

400

   
 
1000

Students must earn 900+ points to receive a grade of "A," 800+ points to earn a "B," and 700+ points to earn a grade of "C." Incomplete grades will only be given for nonacademic reasons when advance arrangements have been made. In this class, a B is the expected grade for good, competent work. Grades in the A range are reserved for excellent work. The class writing tips define excellent written work in this class, and you should study them carefully if you want to do well.

Plus and minus grades will be used in this class for final course grades when a grade is within 15 percent of a lower or higher grade.  For example, a final point total of 815 or less is a B-. Likewise, a score of 885 or above is B+. An A+ is possible for work of extraordinary quality across the entire class.

You will be able to check your scores on the class home page. Grades on the exams and the written assignments will be presented on a 100 point scale, so that you can better evaluate your performance. A weighted point total will be provided around the middle of the course, which will allow you to see how well you are doing.

Extra credit points are treated as a bonus. Thus, there are more than 1000 possible points available in this class.

Policy on Late Assignments

Just do not submit stuff late. It harms your progress in this class. It is certainly not a mark of engagement. Late work is something that is clearly recorded in D2L. I will get late work in mind if you find yourself with a borderline grade.

The Electronic Classroom

I can tolerate the occasional phone checking or the use of a laptop in class, but we all know when someone is using our classroom as their private office. Students who are obviously only in class to use the wireless and a desk will be asked to leave.

Start Networking!

I try to focus on developing on the professional skills of my students, and networking is a part of that picture. I encourage students to use LinkedIn, and to add me to your professional network. You will likely find other faculty on LinkedIn that you know and other students and professionals in your interest areas. There is also a PMAP network, an MPA/MPP network, Governing Magazine group, et cetera.

 

COURSE OUTLINE AND SCHEDULE

 

Class One, August 28

Introduction to the Course

Goals: Learn about why local government knowledge is essential! Also, we will do some sort of student introductions and review class objectives. Welcome to the class!

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class one.

Tip: Make sure that you read the syllabus carefully. Students who tell me about typos or confusing passages are much appreciated.  Make sure you fully understand how your grade will be calculated.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on D2L.

 

Classes Two, September 4

The Rise of the Modern City

Goals: Learn about the evolution of cities, forms of local government, and the role of appointed public managers in our local political institutions.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class two.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

 

Class Three, September 11

The Work of Local Public Management

Goals: Learn about the job of being a local government manager. What skills do local government managers need? What challenges do they face? Where is the line between administration and politics?

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class three.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

 

Class Four, September 18

Critical Thinking Skills for Public Managers

Goals: Learn the key steps in developing a policy recommendation and how to make your case in writing.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class four.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

 

Class Five, September 25

Academics Giving Advice: Three Distinct Views on Public Management

Goals: Learn about three approaches to making local government decisions and justifying action. Each of the approaches we discuss have roots in academic writing and major importance for public management practice.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class five.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation One Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class Six, October 2

Intergovernmental Relationships

Goals: Learn about the state of relationships between competing local governments and other levels of the federal system.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class six.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Two Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class Seven, October 9

Midterm Exam

Exam: Your exam will be available on D2L by 10:00am, and it is due by 1 PM on October 13.

Tip: Carefully consider the writing tips discussed in the last class and remember that it is very important that you cite the class materials. Failing to complete either or both of these tasks will assure that you do not get an A on this exam. Is this your goal?

 

Class Eight, October 16

Goal Setting and Strategic Management

Goals: What methods are used to set community goals and implement reforms? You will learn about several popular options.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class eight.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Three Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class Nine, October 23

Writing a Business Plan

Goals: You will learn about business plans, review the requirements for the business plan assignment, and participate in a discussion group that will help you refine your paper plans.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class nine.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Four Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class 10, October 30

Leading with Technology

Goals: You will learn about the technology responsibilities that local government managers must address and how technology can help to improve local government efficiency and enhance democracy.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class ten.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Five Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class 11, November 6

The Performance Revolution

Goals: You will learn more about the growing importance of performance measurement in local government (and elsewhere), examine some cutting-edge performance measurement innovations, and consider the pros and cons of this managerialist revolution.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class eleven.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Six Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class 12, November 13

Fiscal Challenges

Goals: What happened to Detroit and Jefferson County, Alabama? We will look at the financial troubles that local governments have faced over the last 10 years and debate future prospects.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class twelve.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Case Presentation Seven Tonight. Case memos must be submitted on D2L prior to the next class. Memos submitted during the next class and/or one day late lose 10%; papers more than one day late lose 25%.

 

Class 13, November 20

Business Plan Presentations

Focus on convincing the class on the merits of your business plan with creative and feasible options for addressing your goal. There will be a sign-up sheet, and only 15 students will be allowed to present. There will be 15 points of extra credit provided. This is not for the faint-hearted. Presenters will get good feedback, but expect some discussion. The goal is for everyone to leave with a better understanding of this assignment and on track for an A grade on this assignment.

Your business plan must be submitted by 10 PM on December 3.

 

Class 14, December 4

Collaboration

Goals: You will learn more about collaboration, which is an essential element in many contemporary local government successes. We will also examine how technology can facilitate collaborative efforts.

Readings: You will find readings on the D2L home page for class fourteen.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on Desire2Learn.

Additional Tasks: Review the blog postings on D2L.

 

Final Exam, Will be available at 5:00pm on December 10 and due by 2pm on December 15. Note: You must submit your exam on the D2L home page. 

 

 

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