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Public Affairs 3500: Public Management

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 

Learn to effectively work within or with public (government) organizations. Address public management challenges, exploring the unique environment of public organizations, learn how performance is measured and what makes an effective public manager. Additionally, consider the role of for-profit and nonprofit organizations in public service delivery. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students will:

  • Identify the elements of public management from a theoretical and practical perspective
  • Understand what makes an effective public manager and how to apply tools and techniques presented to achieve organizational effectiveness to their work in public service
  • Demonstrate the methods of public management through discussion, case study, small group analysis, and assignments
  • Apply their knowledge of public management by analyzing management dilemmas and proposing responses

Requirements and Expectations

  • Beginning of Semester Tasks 5%

  • Class Participation 12% - 2 dropped

  • Individual Reflection Papers 10% - 2 dropped

  • Group Case Study Facilitation 15%

  • Case Analysis Deliverables 45% (3@15%)

  • 360 Evaluations 5% 

  • Final Reflection Paper 8%

This course is heavily based on class discussion, so it is important that everyone attends class sessions, listens attentively, and contributes ideas and questions. The quality of your comments and contributions to class discussions will impact the quality of your and your colleagues’ learning. Your comments should add a new perspective, prompt critical thinking, respectfully challenge a colleague’s position, or lend substantive additional depth. I will track attendance and share my observations about your participation mid-way through the semester. You will reflect on your participation as part of your final reflection paper. I will use this self-evaluation along with my own evaluation and your attendance to assign your final participation grade.

Each week, you will submit via Canvas a substantial document of at least half of a page (single-spaced, 1-inch margin, 12- point Times New Roman font) that addresses 2-3 of the reflection questions for the week posted to Canvas. You do not need to formally cite the course materials for the week but please make it clear to the reader which course materials you are discussing by referring to them by their title or the name of the author.

Each paper is worth 10 points. In general, papers will be graded as complete (full points) or missing (0 points). However, if you consistently do not adjust to feedback and further elaborate on your ideas, we may deduct points on subsequent reflection paper assignments.

Throughout the semester, small groups of students will facilitate discussions/activities based on that week’s management case study to: 1) develop the planning and facilitation skills critical to their future success as public managers, and 2) reinforce course content by applying it to a specific management situation. Outside of the classroom, the facilitation skills you will practice as part of this assignment are relevant to strategic planning processes, collaborative initiatives, and stakeholder engagement efforts. You will work in small groups of 5-7 people formed with support from the instructor. Each group will be responsible for giving a 5-minute presentation summarizing important background information from the case and facilitating a 35-minute class discussion/activity based on the case and an analytical or conceptual framework from one assigned reading/video from the module.

To prepare for the facilitation, you will meet ahead of time with your team. Each team is also required to meet with the instructor to review their presentation visuals and facilitation agenda at least one week prior to the date they are scheduled to facilitate. These meetings will typically take place in the last 15 minutes of class on the week before a group is scheduled to facilitate. Each team will submit the final version of their facilitation materials through Canvas on the day they facilitate. Immediately after their team facilitates, they will debrief with the entire class and meet briefly with the professor to identify lessons learned from their preparation process and facilitation experience. We will all prepare for and participate in the case discussions designed by our colleagues.

You will receive a group grade for your presentation and facilitation based on the following criteria:

  • Preparation - thoughtful and timely group planning including (30 points):
    • Ontime submission of group norms and roles at the beginning of the semester.
    • Group meeting prior to check-in with instructor to collectively discuss:
      • Key themes in the case study.
      • Connections to concepts and tools from relevant course materials, including one focal reading/video from the module.
      • Ideas for activities and discussion questions.
    • Meeting with instructor at least one week prior to facilitation date.
    • Submission of draft presentation visuals and facilitation agenda to instructor two days prior to scheduled facilitation date.
  • Presentation Skills – present clear 5-minute overview of case study materials (10 points)
  • Facilitation Skills – facilitate 35-minute discussion that (50 points):
    • Incorporates feedback from professor.
    • Involves all group members.
    • Engages classmates in critical analysis of case study based on focal reading/video from the module and other relevant course materials.
    • Demonstrates key facilitation skills discussed in class.
  • Critical Reflection – reflect on assignment and assess skill development (10 points):
    • Identify lessons learned through discussion with instructor.

You will work individually to complete three case analysis deliverables based on our over-arching case study for the semester: the emergent role of AI in public organizations. More detailed guidelines and grading rubrics for each of the deliverables will be posted to Canvas and discussed in class several weeks before each deliverable is due. The following provides an overview of each deliverable:

  • For the first deliverable, you will work with a co-author to provide detailed descriptions of three specific AI use cases in public organizations in the policy area you choose (e.g., education, criminal justice, social services, etc.).
  • For your second deliverable, you will individually write a memo detailing a stakeholder analysis of a public organization AI use cases identified in deliverable 1. You will then use ChatGPT to refine your deliverable.
  • For your final deliverable, you will conduct a SWOT analysis and write a memo detailing a comprehensive assessment of the pros and cons of the AI use case from deliverable 2.

Over the course of the semester, you will complete a 360 evaluation for several of your colleagues. The 360 evaluations will be administered through Canvas. Further instructions will be discussed in class and posted on the class website.

At the end of the semester, you will write a final reflection paper in which you reflect on your growth during the course. You will submit a final reflection paper in which you address the following questions:


You will submit a paper of approximately 1500 words (double-spaced, 1-inch margin, 12- point Times New Roman font) via Canvas by midnight on the day they are due. Final Reflection Papers will be graded on the following criteria:

Weekly Schedule

  1. Course Introduction - What is Public Management?

  2. Public Value and Public Values

  3. Decision-making and AI in Public Management

  4. Strategic Planning and Goal Setting

  5. Hiring and Managing a Representative Public Workforce

  6. Managing People and Teams to Bring out their Best

  7. Organizational Structure and Culture

  8. Integrating What We’ve Learned So Far

  9. Analyzing Stakeholders and the Operating Environment

  10. Budgetary Process and Politics

  11. Change, Innovation and Risk

  12. Contracting

  13. Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector

  14. Performance Management and Evaluation

  15. Wrap-up

Previous Instructors Have Included