There is one session available:
There is one session available:
U.S. Public Policy: Social, Economic, and Foreign Policies
About this courseSkip About this course
Public policy puts laws into action. The executive branch directs the combined activities of the federal government to address a multitude of problems, from the environment to the economy. The policies of the United States affect social issues, economic growth, taxes, regulation, and foreign affairs. This course will take a broad view of public policy in America but will use specific examples, such as the 2008 economic downturn and climate change, to illustrate the wide-ranging effects of those policies.
We’ll address the intersection of religion and politics, and how issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage have played out in the political arena. We’ll discuss fiscal, monetary, welfare and income policy—what they are, what tools they involve, and what political divisions they create. We’ll examine partisan divisions over regulatory policy, and the basis for those divisions. Finally, we’ll trace the evolution of America’s position as a trading nation by examining trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
This course will also serve as an overview of American government, concentrating on overarching tendencies such as its fragmented power structure. The importance of these tendencies will be explained by showing how thoroughly each of them affects American politics.
At a glance
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- How religion and politics have been a persistent source of conflict
- The nature of U.S. fiscal policy and monetary policy
- How America’s welfare policies are distinct from those of other Western democracies
- The structure and politics of the U.S. tax system
- The partisan divisions over regulatory policy and the basis for those divisions
- The factors that made America an economic powerhouse
Week 1: Social Policy
This session will concentrate on the intersection of religion and politics, historically and currently. We will explain how issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage have played out in ways that have aligned religious conservatives with the Republican Party and religious liberals and seculars with the Democratic Party.
Week 2: Fiscal & Monetary Policy
This session examines fiscal policy and monetary policy—what they are, what tools they involve, and what political divisions they create. The nature of these policies will be illustrated through several cases, including the policies enacted in response to the economic downturn that began in 2008.
Week 3: Welfare & Income Policy
This session will describe and explain these developments, relating them to both the nature of the U.S. economy and the nature of U.S. policy. The structure and politics of the U.S. welfare system and the U.S. tax system will be points of emphasis.
Week 4: Regulatory Policy
While emphasizing policy, the session will also address partisan divisions over regulatory policy, and the basis for those divisions. Several cases, most notably the politics and policies of climate change, will be used to illustrate key points.
Week 5: Foreign Policy
This session will trace the evolution of America’s position as a trading nation during the post-World War II era, concentrating first on the factors that made America in the immediate post-war period the world’s unquestioned economic power and then on the factors that weakened that position. The session will conclude with an examination of the politics and policies of trade agreements, including adoption in 1993 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the rejection in 2017 of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Week 6: Dynamics of American Politics
This session will serve as an overview of the course, concentrating on major tendencies within the American system, such as its fragmented power structure. The importance of these tendencies will be explained by showing how thoroughly each of them affects American politics. The purpose of this session is to reinforce and clarify the “lessons learned” during the course.
Learner testimonialsSkip Learner testimonials
“Excellent course! The topics are well structured, the instructor explains in a clear and comprehensive way.” —Eva Palackova
About the instructors
Frequently Asked QuestionsSkip Frequently Asked Questions
Honor code statement
HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.
By registering as an online learner in our open online courses, you are also participating in research intended to enhance HarvardX's instructional offerings as well as the quality of learning and related sciences worldwide. In the interest of research, you may be exposed to some variations in the course materials. HarvardX does not use learner data for any purpose beyond the University's stated missions of education and research. For purposes of research, we may share information we collect from online learning activities, including Personally Identifiable Information, with researchers beyond Harvard. However, your Personally Identifiable Information will only be shared as permitted by applicable law, will be limited to what is necessary to perform the research, and will be subject to an agreement to protect the data. We may also share with the public or third parties aggregated information that does not personally identify you. Similarly, any research findings will be reported at the aggregate level and will not expose your personal identity.
Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.