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Institute of Government

Tennessee State University




Course Number:                     PA 621


Title:                                       Seminar In Public Administration


Course Credit:                        Three Credits


Instructor:                              Rodney E. Stanley, Ph.D.

Office: Avon Williams Campus, Suite F-13


Phone: (615) 963 – 7249: W

                                                (615) 886 – 4542: H

Office Hours:  Tuesday 12:00 – 5:00

                        Thursday 12:00 – 5:00


Course Description:            This seminar serves as an introduction to the discipline of public administration.  This class explores the various theories and practices that have led to, and continue to dominate the profession and study of public administration. The major topics of interest that will be discussed in this class include the politics of government bureaucracy, managing and leading public organizations, the core functions of government administration such as budgeting, public policy implementation and human resources management, and current trends emerging in the 21st century that are directing and influencing public administration.  Students will display their knowledge of public administration in various reading, writing and oratorical assignments throughout the semester.


Course Objectives:            At the end of this course the student will be able to:


·        Inform the student about the history and development of public administration as a professional career and academic discipline.


·        Create analytical reasoning techniques that the public administration student may apply to their professional career as an administrator in a public or non-profit agency.


·        Establish communication skills that will assist the public administrative student in the various career endeavors associated with the management of public and non-profit agencies.


·        Inform the student about emerging issues and trends impacting the professional and discipline of public administration.


Topical Outline:            Politics of bureaucracy, core functions of public administration: human resources management, budgeting, public policy, research methods, organization theory, politics/administration dichotomy.


Teaching Strategies:            Lecture, class discussion, critical appraisal, individual presentations, essay papers, midterm and final exam.


Required Texts:


Balanoff, Howard R. (ed.) 2001.  Public Administration, 8th edition.  Ct: Duskin Publishing.


Gordon, George J; Milakovich, Michael E. 2001.  Public Administration In America, 8th edition.  St. Martin’s Press, NY.


Recommended Texts To Consult:


·        Cook, Brian J. (1996).  Bureaucracy and Self-Government.  Baltimore: John Hopkins Univ. Press.

·        Lipsky, Michael (1980).  Street Level Bureaucracy.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

·        Lowi, Theodore (1979).  The End of Liberalism.  New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

·        Osborne, David; Gaebler, Ted (1993).  Reinventing Government.  New York: Plume             Publishing.

·        Ostrom, Vincent (1989).  The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration. Tuscaloosa: University Press of Alabama. 

·        Peters, Guy B. (1995).  The Politics of Bureaucracy.  New York: Longman Pub. USA.

·        Rohr, John A. (1986).  To Run A Constitution.  Kansas: University of Kansas Press.

·        Simon, Herbert M. (1945).  Administrative Behavior.  New York: MacMillan Pub. Co.

·        Spicer, Michael W. (1995).  The Founders, the Constitution, and Public Administration. Georgetown University Press.


Course Requirements


Midterm Exam                                    100 points

Final Exam                                                100 points

Two Short Essay Papers (50)                        100 points

Two Class Presentations (50)                        100 points

Participation/Attendance                         100 points

Total                                                            500 points


Grading Scale:  Final Grades will be premised on cumulative points as follows: A = 500- 420; B = 419 - 360; C = 359 - 280; D = 279 - 200; F = below 200.



Each student will be required to complete a midterm and final exam.  The exams will be in class exams and the student will have one class period to complete the exam.  Each exam will consist of several essay questions about important topics discussed throughout the semester.  A study guide will be provided to assist the student in preparing for the exam.


Short Essays:

Each student will be required to write two short essays about various topics of the student’s interest in public administration.  Each essay will be between 4 – 5 pages in length.  If a student has already submitted a paper on your topic you must choose another issue.  The papers should be structured as follows:



Grading Criteria for Papers:


1)      Analysis: A sufficient number of public administration concepts are used to analyze the situation discussed in the paper;

2)      References: A variety of pertinent and timely references were sought and obtained in preparing the paper;

3)      Organization: The main points are stated clearly and arranged in a logical sequence;

4)      Coherence: The development of ideas, arguments and discussion shows consistency and logical connection;

5)      Clarity: The ideas, arguments and discussion shows consistency and logical connection;

6)      Conciseness: The language is direct and to the point, using sufficient space to say exactly what is intended and be readily understood by the reader;

7)      Grammar: The written is in standard American English, with proper sentence structure, syntax, punctuation and spelling;

8)      Drafting: The writing shows evidence of being drafted and revised before submission of the final copy.


*** All papers should use the following format: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1” margins from left to right and top to bottom, and double spaced.  Each student should submit two copies of their papers, of which, one will be returned with the grade.


Class Presentations:


Each student will be required to assist in the presentation of the reading material at least once, and maybe twice in the semester (depending on the size of the class).  Groups of two to four individuals will be assigned to present the basic arguments of the literature assigned for that week and facilitate discussions regarding the literature.  Your presentations will be critiqued on how thorough you present the material, how well you project to the class, the amount of class discussion that results from your presentation (in other words try to be controversial it makes for better discussions), and the amount of time you use in your presentations (please try not to exceed 30 minutes in your presentations).  The class usually finds it helpful if you distribute an outline of your material before you begin your presentation, however this is not required.


1)      Organization – There is a structured format in which the student displays throughout the presentation.

2)      Planning – There is evidence of rehearsing and the presentation flows well and is properly paced according to time.

3)      Visual Aids – Adequate use of visual aids to assist in explanations during the presentation.

4)      Speaker Enthusiasm – Displayed adequate knowledge of the subject, and exhibited sufficient self-confidence during the presentation.

5)      Voice Projection – Good articulation, proper delivery rate, no distracting gestures (e.g., chewing gum, too many “uhs”, etc).



Students are expected to be present in order to participate in class discussions.  For every absence the instructor will deduct 10 points from the students participation and attendance grade. Excessive absences will lead to a substantial lowering of a student’s grade. General criteria used to assess class participation include:


1)      Content Mastery: Students must display an understanding of facts, concepts, and theories presented in the assigned readings and lectures.  This ability is the basis for all higher-level skills and must be made evident by classroom comments and/or response to questions.

2)      Communication Skills: Students must be able to inform others in an intelligent manner what she/he knows.  Ideas must be communicated clearly and persuasively.  Communication skills include listening to others and understanding what they have said, responding appropriately, asking questions in a clear manner, avoiding rambling discourses or class domination, using proper vocabulary pertinent to the discussion, building on the ideas of others, etc.

3)      Synthesis/Integration: Students must illuminate the connections between the material under consideration and other bodies of knowledge.  For example, one could take several ideas from the reading or class discussions and combine them to produce a new perspective on an issue, or one could take outside materials and combine them to create new insights.  Students who probe the interdisciplinary roots of the theories presented or who are able to view the author or the materials from several viewpoints demonstrate this skill.

4)      Creativity: Students must demonstrate that they have mastered the basic material and have gone on to produce their own insights.  A simple repetition of ideas from the articles will not suffice, nor will simply commenting on what others have said.  Students must go beyond the obvious by bringing their own beliefs and imagination to bear.  Creativity may be displayed by showing further implications of the material, by applying it to a new field, or by finding new ways of articulating the materials, which produce significant insights.

5)      Valuing: Students should be able to identify the value inherent in the material studied.  The underlying assumptions of the author should be identified.  Furthermore, students should be able to articulate their own positions by reference to basic underlying values.  Students must not simply feel something is wrong or incorrect; they must be able to state why, based on some hierarchy of values.  In either accepting or rejecting a position, the operative values must become explicit.

6)      General Enthusiasm and Interest in the Class: This can be shown by regularity of attendance and thoughtful insights given throughout the semester in class discussions.


Additional Readings:

Additional readings will be assigned throughout the semester to accompany chapters in the required texts for this class.  The instructor will provide these additional articles to the students approximately one week before the readings are due in class.


Note: Following explicit directions are an important aspect of graduate school training.  Therefore, it is important that the student follow the stated guidelines in this syllabus, throughout the course of this class, because failure to do so will result in point reductions.  Furthermore, it will probably be to your best interest to submit papers to me before the due date (at least two weeks), so I can make suggestions on how you might want to change your work in order to receive a higher grade.


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Any students who feel the need for academic accommodations due to a recognized disability by the TSU Handbook, will be given such adjustments only after the student goes through the proper channels at the university to receive such accommodations.  The TSU Handbook is a good place to start if you are unaware of the “proper procedures.”


*** Note this syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.