CoursesHow Washington Really Works
PSCI 398 - 305

How Washington Really Works

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how decisions and policy are really made in Washington. Weekly travel to Washington D.C. required.

Fridays, 12 PM – 3 PM, Penn Biden Center, Washington, D.C.
(Approved Wharton requirement sector: Social Sciences)

This course will provide students with an understanding of how decisions and policy are REALLY made in Washington. Through 8 case studies, ranging from the 1957 Civil Rights Act to welfare reform to Obamacare, the course will explore policy debates, political dealings, institutional dynamics and the personalities, motivations, and ambitions of the people involved in enacting legislation and regulation and operating the federal government. The role of interest groups, think tanks and the media in shaping legislation, regulation, and decision-making will also be examined.

The course will use Socratic-style lectures, class discussions, and a weekly class luncheon speaker from the Washington policy, political, and media communities – a politician, administration official, journalist or think tank expert. Among possibilities: pandemic adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, journalists Jane Mayer and Elisabeth Bumiller, Biden adviser and former think tank presidents Neera Tanden, former Senate Majority Leader Thomas
Daschle, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, business lobbyist and Bush White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, former Solicitors General Paul Clement and Neil Katyal.

Students will be asked to complete readings, write an essay, develop a policy memo, and give a group presentation.

Weekly travel to Washington D.C. required. Transportation and lunch will be provided for all students. This course will be co-taught by Prof. Emanuel and Steve Pearlstein, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post and professor at George Mason University. It is offered jointly—in the same class— to students from both the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University.

Enrollment at both schools requires permission of the professor to ensure students will be able to accommodate the unique structure of the course. See form on PenninTouch.

Sample Syllabus (subject to change)

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