Course Details

The first course (PACON 280, Public Affairs I: Foundational Debates) focuses on the core ideals of American public affairs including freedom, equality, democracy, justice, community, responsibility and authority. Students will study the historical development and contested nature of those ideals. The second course (PACON 281, Public Affairs II: Contemporary Controversies) extends this tradition of analysis and examines the normative commitments and empirical evidence relevant to contemporary public affairs. Students also complete a paid internship (done in either summer or interim).

PACON 280, Public Affairs I: Foundational Debates

Initiates the programs accruing general education requirements.

This course examines American ideals and the tensions among them, ideals such as freedom, community, equality, democracy, justice, responsibility, and authority. The course analyzes the political, economic, moral, and religious dimensions of the debates and decisions that continue to shape American society.  It considers classic founding documents, ideas that influenced the founders, and the major thinkers and events relevant to understanding the diverse range of models for government, markets, and society. Juniors and seniors only. Taught annually in the fall semester.

PACON 281, Public Affairs II: Contemporary Controversies

Counts toward accrued general education credit: EIN, HBS

This contemporary public affairs course examines normative commitments and empirical evidence relevant to the workings of government, markets, and society as applied to contemporary issues. Possible topics include immigration, abortion, education, sexuality, medical care, foreign policy, income inequality and poverty, affirmative action, and responses to climate change. Juniors and seniors only. Offered annually each spring

Internship may be satisfied by: ID 295, Internship & Reflection Seminar or ID 294, Academic Internship (0,.25, .5, or 1.0 credit)

An internship will provide students with a context for vocational reflection and further analysis. This will include consideration of potential career paths and the value of different professional contexts in American public affairs. The internship ideally will take place in the interim between the two courses; however, students may also do the internship in the summer as a capstone after taking both courses. The varying timing of the internship means that the second course will include both reflection after and before students’ internships. Students may register for any credit option including 0, .25, .5, and 1.0. Interim internships will always be 1.0 credits. Summer internships can be variable credit. The Piper Center has been consulted regarding logistical and other support for these internships. Typically, the Program Director or another faculty colleague will supervise the internship and provide academic content using the existing 294 internship designation (when credits are involved.).