The state of contemporary American politics, policy, and administration


Write a scholarly essay addressing the question below.  Note: there is a limit of 8 pages for this question (double spaced, one-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, including all tables and notes). References do not count in the 8-page limit.  You may not need eight pages, but do not go longer than that. Answers will be graded based only on the first 8 pages.


There are a number of propositions expressed about the state of contemporary American politics, policy, and administration that are widely (but not universally) viewed as problematic. The scholarly literature has a lot to say about each of these propositions; and yet there is still more for scholars to learn about their causes and consequences. 

Exam will ask to choose one of proposition to focus on in your essay.  Past exam propositions have been:

  1. There are often large differences across states in implementation of federal programs.
  2. Politicians and bureaucrats often hold different preferences and priorities in terms of implementing policy and programs.
  3. Citizens are not engaged enough in governance (e.g., decision-making).

For your selected concern, write a scholarly essay drawing primarily on the academic literature and theories covered in Table 1 on public administration and Table 2 on politics.

Your essay should include two parts (of approximately equal length):

In Part 1, Review what is known in the published literature about the proposition (e.g., do we know it is true, what are its causes, what are its consequences). In this section, describe major areas of consensus/agreement among scholars and note any significant debates on the topic within the academic literature.

In Part 2, Present your own evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of this literature. Next, provide advice to scholars working in this area—noting future directions worth of additional study (e.g., unanswered questions, methodological gaps, etc.).


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