This page focuses on the course 11.002J/17.30J Making Public Policy as it was taught by Prof. Christopher Warshaw and Leah Stokes in Fall 2014.
This course aimed to get students thinking about politics and policy as a part of their everyday lives. We treated politics as a struggle among competing advocates trying to persuade others to see the world as they do, working within a context that is structured primarily by institutions and cultural ideas. We began by developing a policymaking framework, understanding ideology, and taking a whirlwind tour of the American political system. Then, we examined six policy issues in depth: health care, gun control, the federal budget, immigration reform, same-sex marriage, and energy and climate change. We concluded the course wtih a summary class and a student-driven, in-class oral project.
Course Goals for Students
- Acquire substantive knowledge about public policy in the US
- Develop critical reasoning skills
- Analyze policy and understand political arguments
- Improve oral and written communication skills
Below, Leah Stokes describes various aspects of how she and Prof. Chris Warshaw taught 11.002J/17.30J Making Public Policy.
For many students at MIT, public policy, political science, planning, and even social science, more generally, are not their primary fields of study. In order to ensure that students remained engaged throughout the course, we tried not to make lectures a one-way experience. We actively called on students throughout the class, including cold calling to check that they were keeping up with the readings and grasping the main ideas. Furthermore, we embedded interactive class activities in many of the lectures, allowing the students to discuss topics with each other in small groups and to hear different points of views.
No previous coursework required.
- Requirement for a Bachelor of Science in Planning
- 11.002J/17.30 can be applied toward a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering Science, but is not required
- 11.002J/17.30 can be applied toward a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, but is not required
Every fall semester
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
Limiting the class to between 50 and 60 students is ideal because it would be difficult to have active classroom discussions with a class size larger than this. Having 50 to 60 students also allows the teaching assistants to divide the class into four reasonably-sized recitation sections.
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
- Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance
- Met 1 time per week for 1 hour per session; 12 sessions total; mandatory attendance
Out of Class
Course Team Roles
Instructors (Prof. Chris Warshaw & Leah Stokes)
The instructors ran lecture sessions, trading off based on policy modules and their different backgrounds and areas of expertise.
Two teaching assistants facilitated weekly recitation sessions and managed grading.