• DPA Course Descriptions

    GPA 8501 Historical Foundations and Professional Development
    This course examines how public administration and nonprofit management have evolved as fields of study, and how they are designed and practiced. The academic and career development goals of individual students are addressed. Students are prepared to integrate theory into practice at an advanced level.

    GPA 8502 Research Methods
    Advanced Research Methods introduces students to the basic techniques of quantitative and qualitative research required in the field of public administration. Students learn how to define a research project and select appropriate methodologies to investigate political and social phenomena. Emphasis is also placed on learning how to interpret and critically evaluate public administration research.

    GPA 8503 Critical Issues for Public Administrators
    This course identifies and explores important contemporary issues facing public administration practitioners, and loo ks at how these issues relate to major ideas in the history of the field. This course examines leading-edge professional practices related to these issues, and the extent to which these practices have been successful in local, state, and national contexts. Students integrate their learning from the other core courses and prepare for written exams in the program.

    GPA 8504 Advanced Organizational Theory and Leadership
    This course is an advanced, in-depth examination of the concepts, analytical tools, and personal skills underlying behavior in organizations. It explores the relationship between task accomplishment and human fulfillment in the context of planned organizational change.

    GPA 8506 Advanced Seminar in Public Policy
    This course examines the theoretical and philosophical approaches used to systematically examine the public policy process. Because no single theory or model can adequately describe the complexities of this process, the analytical frameworks and assumptions of the major approaches to policy analysis are emphasized, and emerging theories explored. In individual assignments, students are encouraged to examine policy issues and frameworks that relate to potential dissertation topics.

    GPA 8521 Comparative Public Administration
    This course uses theories from comparative political science and public administration to examine the public administration systems of different countries and/or regions through case studies. Given the growing interdependence of nations and globalization of public policy concerns, practitioners of public administration often need to deal with a public administration issue beyond their borders. This course will help bring a broader perspective to practitioners, which will help them in dealing with such situations as well as aid them in assessing local public administration issues from a new perspective.

    GPA 8522 E-Government
    This course uses information, computing and telecommunications to transform government performance. This course describes six types of e-government activity, identifies major functions for which e-government is used, and works through a strategic approach using e-government at state and local government and nonprofit organizations.

    GPA 8523 Contemporary Social Policy Issues
    This course examines the historical context, theoretical arguments, and political controversies surrounding current and emerging social policy issues. It considers the impacts of changing social policies on vulnerable populations, the delivery of health and human services, and society at large.

    GPA 8524 Housing and Economic Development Policy
    This course examines economic development theories and housing policies in the United States. Emphasis upon understanding how economic and housing markets operate and how national, state, and local governments can influence business investment and job development decisions and the construction and rehabilitation of housing for different populations. This course first provides an overview on how economic and housing markets function. The discussion will include discussion of basic principles of macro- and microeconomics and then analysis of specific views of economic development, including export base, core-periphery, and locational theories. The course then provides specific analysis and evaluation of the different policies and techniques governments have used to secure economic and housing goals. Among the techniques examined will be: tax incentives and TIFs, bonding, public subsidies, public/private partnerships, infrastructure development, and direct government investment in, or ownership of housing and economic development entities.

    GPA 8527 Alternative Service Delivery
    State and local governments are facing their worst fiscal crises in years. As a result, public officials in Minnesota and across the United States are seeking either more cost effective or alternative ways to deliver public services, including the employment of what President Bush calls "faith-based initiatives." This course examines the theoretical underpinnings, debates, and track record of the various alternatives to delivery public services. Topics include: privatization, vouchers, contracting out, public/private and public/nonprofit partnerships, and the use of market incentives and competition to improve service delivery. We shall also examine several policy areas where alternative means to deliver services have been tried or advocated including criminal justice, education, health care, welfare, energy, and transportation.

    GPA 8600 Strategic Planning and Decision Making in the Public Sector
    The first half of the course is a survey of strategic planning, to include: organization of the planning process; the mission statement; analysis of environmental strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis); and identifying strategic issues or goals. The effectiveness of strategic planning in government is also examined. Students will examine strategic plans and work in teams on planning exercises. As strategic planning should lead to decision making in an organization, the second half of the course is on normative and behavioral decision making. Several normative models of decision making are introduced and contrasted with findings from psychological research and behavioral decision theory on how individuals and groups make decisions in practice. Research shows that people often do not think in the best way or make the best decisions to reach their own goals. Topics include utility theory, expert systems, Kohlberg’s stages of moral thinking, and the effectiveness of individual versus group decision making. Psychological biases are shown to occur in probability estimation, hypothesis testing, preference reversals, framing effects, and risk avoidance. Doctoral students will lead discussions and write papers on assigned topics.