PUBL 401 Senior Seminar

Fall 2001


Privatization and the Public Interest


Professor Laura Purdy

316 MacMillan

tel. 3244

Thursday, 1:45-4:30


Public Affairs 401 (PUBL 401) is the capstone course for the major in Public Affairs: Ethics, Politics, and Social Policy. This seminar gives students an opportunity to explore issues in government and ethics, using the knowledge and skills acquired in the course of major work. The final paper can be used as the basis for a senior thesis (PUBL 402) in the spring of your senior year, and, because of the way it draws on previous major work, your comprehensive evaluation. (See AThe Senior Experience@ handout.)



1.      To learn to work together like members of a research team, doing both independent and collaborative work, working interdependently.

2.      To prepare a paper that you will use as a basis for your thesis work in the spring. You are encouraged, but not required, to choose a topic related to the theme of the seminar. It must, in any case, have a visible connection with the Public Affairs major.



There are no texts to buy for this seminar. Some readings will be provided via the reserve desk or by internet; for some segments you will be responsible for finding appropriate materials (with guidance from me where necessary).



Class participation and reports:            50%

Paper:                                                      50%


Class participation and reports:

Your grade will depend on full participation in discussion, short reports on joint readings, and reports on independent work you do.


Presentation and Paper:

Each of you will present your paper to the seminar toward the end of the semester; your presentation will be worth 15% of your course grade, and the paper on which you base your presentation will be worth 20% of your grade. You will revise your paper based on class discussion and feedback from me and from Prof. DiBello or Prof. Marshall; the revised version will be worth 15% of your grade. (We may agree on a slightly different grading scheme as we go along.)


Tentative Schedule:

8/29          Introduction                                                    e: Starr

9/5             Varieties of privatization                              e-readings

     9/12           Concepts of property & public interest       indept research;DHI: “property@

9/19          Concept of corporation                                e-readings

9/26          Assumptions & arguments                           *Kuttner, *Sclar

10/3          Privatization & democracy                           e-readings; Moyers video

10/10       Individual meetings

10/17        Updates on topics

10/24       no class

10/31-12/5  Individual projects, meetings as needed




10/11     e-mail me your thesis topic

     10/17      1-page topic proposal (with thesis and 10 references [at least 8 must be books or scholarly papers]) to share with class

10/31      5 page proposal (thesis, 20 references [at least 16 must be books or scholarly papers], preliminary argument in support of thesis)                   

11/7        10 pages, sketching our your argument (pros, cons, responses), plus all the foregoing

11/14       15 page draft; 1 copy to me, 1 to Prof. DiBello

12/5          Final revision



First class:

      In addition to discussing course requirements, etc., and beginning to look at the concept of privatization, we will consider the following issues. Why combine two disparate disciplines (one in the humanities, one in the social sciences) into a single major? How has this combination worked for you? How have courses in ethics influenced your thinking about government, and vice versa? What would you like to have included that would improve this combination? Excluded?