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Public Affairs 2170: Equity, Justice and Public Service

This is a sample syllabus to provide general information about the course and it's requirements. Course requirements are subject to change. This syllabus does not contain all assignment or course detail and currently enrolled students should reference the syllabus provided by their instructor. For a specific syllabus, please email us a request.

Course Overview

3 Credit Hours
Modalities Available: In Person 

Through exploration of the definitions and intersectionality of concepts of race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other diverse populations, we will begin to understand how the application of public administration management decisions and policy result or not in socially equitable application. Social equity is “the fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public are impacted by current health and redistricting policies. They  will understand the implications of addressing socially equitable aspects as a public leader through an introduction to public management, budgeting, data and sustaining equitable communities. Finally, students will reflect on these concepts and how their own attitudes and beliefs about themselves and other populations with lived experiences changed over the semester.

Course Goals, Objectives and Learning Outcomes.

This course satisfies GE Foundations: Race, Ethnicity and Gender Diversity requirement. 

Goal 1: Successful students will engage in a systematic assessment of how historically and socially constructed categories of race, ethnicity, and gender, and possibly others, shape perceptions, individual outcomes, and broader societal, political, economic, and cultural systems.

  • Describe and evaluate the social positions and representations of categories including race, gender, and ethnicity, and possibly others.
  • Explain how categories including race, gender, and ethnicity continue to function within complex systems of power to impact individual lived experiences and broader societal issues.
  • Analyze how the intersection of categories including race, gender, and ethnicity combine to shape lived experiences.
  • Evaluate social and ethical implications of studying race, gender, and ethnicity.

Goal 2: Successful students will recognize and compare a range of lived experiences of race, gender, and ethnicity.

  • Demonstrate critical self- reflection and critique of their social positions and identities.
  • Recognize how perceptions of difference shape one’s own attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors.
  • Describe how the categories of race, gender, and ethnicity influence the lived experiences of others.

This course will satisfy the Expected Learning Outcomes as students transition from a historical, academic and theoretical context of the concepts of race, ethnicity and gender diversity to understanding their own experiences and the lived experiences of others. Through discussion and readings, students will be exposed to many practical environments in public service and the implications for the decisions of public managers and policy makers on these populations. For instance, students start with readings on values in public administration and the need for social equity to be included as a pillar in public leadership. Then they progress to a number of readings and reports which demonstrate how policies in the public sector have impacted diverse populations in the area of climate policy, health policy, and redistricting policy. They then transition to evaluation of the application of public management practice on management functions such as leadership, budget, sustaining those communities (Week 12) and data– all through the lens of intersectionality and its implications. Throughout the course students are exposed to the lived experiences of others through readings, data and discussions, culminating in a self-reflection of their own understanding and experiences.

  1. Understand the definitions, concepts, and historical context, within public administration, of diverse populations and their intersectionality.
  2. Recognize implications of these concepts as they relate to social equity.
  3. Compare and contrast how public policies impact populations according to race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other identifiable populations.
  4. Explore how these disparities can be diminished through effective management, budget and sustainable practices in public administration.
  5. Reflect on how you personally view these concepts and their impact on the lived experiences of citizens impacted by public administration and policy.

Requirements and Expectations

ReadingsThere is no text book for this course. Readings will be assigned via CarmenCanvas.


Graded assignments may come in three forms, and students should note the expectations for each in the descriptions of our class assignments below.

  • Independent Work: Strictly non-collaborative, original-individual work. You may discuss this assignment only with your instructor. Discussions with other individuals, either in person or electronically, are strictly prohibited.  
  • Collaboration Required: An explicit expectation for collaboration among students either in class or outside (i.e. group work).
  • Optional-Collaboration: Students are permitted, but not required, to discuss the assignment or ideas with each other. However, all submitted work must be one’s original and individual creation.

Assignments and Points: Total 100 course points

  • Assignment One – Social Equity Narrative, 10 points
  • Assignment Two – County Analysis, 5 points
  • Assignment Three – Redistricting/Gerrymandering and Its Impact, 25 points
  • Assignment Four – Impact Assessment, 20 points
  • Final Assignment – Reflection Paper, 20 points
  • Class Discussion Participation, 20 points

Individual Assignment One - Social Equity Narrative

The Svara reading ends with the following definition of Social Equity: “The fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract, and the fair, just and equitable distribution of public services, and implementation of public policy, and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation of public policy.” They go on to list 5 ways this can be achieved. (Procedural Fairness, Distribution and Access, Quality, Outcomes, Related Responsibilities) Please choose one of those five and expound on how that concept might be seen in an actual setting. How does the concept you chose address race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other aspects of affected populations? Don’t forget to discuss the intersectionality of these as they apply to your choice!


Individual Assignment Two - County Analysis

You will pick a county in Ohio and explore its demographics. One source is this census webpage with information about Ohio but there are many more. What are the population statistics? Think about what we have learned so far about diverse populations of individuals that are identified by race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc. How does your county reflect those factors? Do you see anything surprising? How might these populations intersect and overlap?  Finally, based on the county's demographics, what are some possible social equity issues that people experience based on what we covered in the course's readings. Please use the most current statistics available. This exercise will inform your understanding of some of the social equity policy issues we will study in this course and set your understanding of disparities that might impact the county you reviewed.  You can see the stats for Ohio as a state through this website with census data.  


Assignment Three - Redistricting/Gerrymandering and Its Impact

Review the readings and resources for the two weeks on gerrymandering. This will inform you more specifically on the background of redistricting, its impacts on the populations we are studying and where we are in Ohio at this point. Write a draft letter to either the editor of the newspaper of the county you reviewed in Assignment Two for population demographics or the state Congressional Representative. Give a brief overview of redistricting and how it might adversely impact certain populations (300 – 500 words). Then explain how the current map might impact your county. Does it change it? Does it address those diverse populations more equitably? What informs that decision on your part (500 – 750 words)? Finally write a conclusive paragraph on a specific policy action you would like to see taken at this point by your intended audience (the state Congressional Representative could facilitate passage of legislation or support for a specific policy, the editor would advocate to a wide range of stakeholders that may take action – possibly citizens, congressional members, county offices, etc.) (100-200 words).  


Assignment Four - Impact Assessment

Let’s take your Redistricting/Gerrymandering assignment one step further. You ended with a specific policy recommendation. Build on that recommendation and offer suggestions for an impact study of that policy solution. The specific details of the impact study should be informed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation readings and can address any aspect of the populations we have studied – race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc.  This is a narrative assignment that should be between 500 – 750 words, double-spaced, 12-point font. APA is the academically accepted citation format for references for this assignment.  Please include references.


Final Individual Assignment - Reflection Paper

Students will submit a final narrative paper reflecting on the following questions:

  1. How has your understanding of social equity evolved over the course of the class?
  2. In what ways has your perspective on public management and leadership, and your own strengths and weaknesses shifted over the course of the semester regarding your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and understanding of the lived experiences of others as they apply to the populations we studied?
  3. What are two concepts we studied this semester that had the most impact on you personally? (You don’t have to share personal details if you don’t want to for why those were chosen)
  4. Are there ways you can personally make a difference in your community in the future to address these concepts? An organization in which you work?

Weekly Course Schedule

  1. Social Equity, Diverse Populations and Intersectionality: Definitions, concepts, and historical context within Public Administration
  2. Social Equity as a Pillar in Public Administration
  3. Social Equity in Public Leadership
  4. Population Statistics Review
  5. Fairness, Justice and Equity: How does that manifest into treatment of diverse populations?
  6. Policy and its implications for diverse populations: Health Policy
  7. Policy and its implications for a diverse populations application: Redistricting

  8. Policy and its implications for a diverse populations application: Redistricting, Part 2

  9. Racial Equality Impact Assessments

  10. Spring Break

  11. Leading Equitable Communities

  12. Budget

  13. Sustaining Equitable Communities

  14. Data and Social Equity

  15. Reflection

  16. (No class) Final Reflection Paper Due

Previous Course Instructors Have Included: