Spring 2021 Public Affairs Course Highlights

Academic Programs
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Sarah French
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

New Courses | Courses with New Instructors or Titles

Election Administration Certificate Courses

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PA 5731, sec. 1: Emerging Sciences and Technologies: Policy, Ethics, and Law (3 cr.)

Instructor: Peter Calow

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PA 5731 addresses some key current issues: using science and technologies to address big world problems, but recognizing that the solutions can bring their own problems. The course considers how policy and law can be used to address these trade-offs. We shall touch on all the cutting-edge innovations from artificial intelligence to genetic medication and from climate change to nano-materials. A key question is if governments or markets are better at driving innovation, and we shall consider that specifically in the context of if green new deals make sense. Another important issue is if patents are good for innovation, and we shall consider that for technology in general but also for genetic modification.

New Courses

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PA 5290, sec. 3: Data and Tools for Planning (1.5 cr.)

Instructor: Hui Kong

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Cities are becoming smarter: they are using data to optimize services, infrastructure operation, and urban planning. Government agencies, nonprofits, consulting firms, and startups all recognize the importance of leveraging data to create effective public policy and urban plans. This course teaches students systematic approaches to collecting, analyzing, visualizing, and interpreting quantitative data to inform urban planning practice and policy making. Students will be introduced to theories and techniques in urban data science and analytics, with particular focus placed on spatial data analytics.

PA 5290, sec. 4: Emerging Trends in Transportation (1.5 cr.)

Instructor: Hui Kong

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What will the future of transportation look like? As technology advances, recent years have witnessed dramatic changes to urban transportation. As the transportation world evolves, we’re faced with big questions. How do we create, innovate, and implement the emerging technologies in the transportation sector? What impact do they have on the city and the society? What public policies are appropriate regarding these emerging trends in transportation?

PA 5290, sec. 7: Urban Planning Zoning and Development Review (1 cr.)

Instructor: Alyssa Brandt

Understanding zoning ordinances and the process of approval for developments is a crucial skill for planners, as this is how the goals of comprehensive plans are implemented into the real world. This course will teach hard and soft skills City Planners need in order to review projects, analyze variance and conditional use permit applications, present projects for public hearing and beyond through appeals and legal challenges.

PA 5490, sec. 1: Reparations: Policy, History, Theory (3 cr.)

Instructor: Rashad Williams

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In our present moment, nearly 150 years after the failure of U.S. Reconstruction, 50+ years after the extension of civil rights to racialized minorities, and nearly 30 years after welfare "reform," we observe—following numerous federal, state, and municipal "race relations" commissions and task forces, a Congressional "apology" for slavery, and the "post-racial" era of the first Black president—a sociopolitical picture in which the life prospects of individuals remain structurally tethered to a persistent racial hierarchy - a political economy of race. 

Against the backdrop of racialized mass incarceration, policing, and state surveillance, a chasmic racial wealth gap, racially disparate health outcomes, environmental racism, flagrant seizures of indigenous land, and a growing skepticism of liberal and corporate multiculturalism, revitalized reparations movements have emerged implicating the intergenerational effects of white supremacy and racial capitalism. However, demands for reparations, whether at the federal or municipal levels, remain encircled by technical, theoretical, and ideological debates. What is the moral basis for reparations? Does the history of racial exploitation, broadly conceived, explain present-day racial inequality? Who should pay for reparations and who should receive them? And, fundamentally, what actually constitutes "reparation?" In this course, we will turn to these questions and more.

PA 5490, sec. 2: Restorative Practices in Motion (3 cr.)

Instructor: Raj Sethuraju

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This course is designed to allow students to develop a working understanding and knowledge of Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices looks at the concept of justice through nontraditional and alternative viewpoints. Rather than focus on "what are the issues at hand, who committed or is responsible and what should the outcome be," Restorative Practices focuses on "who has been harmed/affected, what was the impact and who is responsible for repairing the harm and addressing the impact." Students will examine Restorative Practices from historical, sociological, criminological, psychological, and educational perspectives. Throughout the course, a wide range of specific "restorative practices" will be studied, reviewed, and analyzed. Some of the concepts the course will explore are trauma and healing, conflict transformation, issues related to education, educational institutions, and alternative processes such as Repairing Harm and the Circle Process.

PA 5590, sec. 1: Transforming Development (3 cr.)

Instructor: Greta Friedemann-Sanchez

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Today’s social and environmental challenges (climate change, emerging infectious diseases, loss of species and habitats, food and housing insecurity, and ethnic/racial/class/gender inequalities, among others) are global and local in scale and challenge us to consider poverty alleviation in need of attention in every country in the world. Two key ingredients to any economic system—the natural world and the caring labor that support social and physical reproduction—continue to be invisible in the dominant model of development. Similar factors that lead to social inequities lead to unsustainable development.

Various theoretical/policy frameworks across multiple disciplinary fields provide paths on redefining development and reframing our economy, taking into account the natural world and care—the latter understood as the values, attitudes, and practices that sustain all life. We will explore current scholarly and applied definitions of sustainable development and study how it differs (or not) from green growth. We will study different models loosely framed under what is currently known as the pluriverse, models intending to transform development: community economies, solidarity movement, degrowth, transition design. Gender, class/caste, and ethnicity will be mainstreamed throughout the course. 

PA 5683/8683: Gender, Race, and Political Representation (3 cr.)

Instructor: Christina Ewig

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The New York Times headline on December 13, 2020 reads, “Heat on Biden over Diversity Grows Intense." Since the turn of the new millennium, the presence of women, and ethnic and racial minorities, in political office has increased significantly, whether through appointed offices, like Biden’s cabinet picks, or elected positions. Key questions we will explore in this course through scholarship on countries across the globe include: What societal and policy changes undergird the increased political representation of historically marginalized groups in recent decades? What are the pros and cons of institutional features that ensure diversity in representation, such as quotas for women in Argentina or majority-minority districts for African Americans and Latinos in the U.S.? What difference does it make for policy agendas when representatives come from a wider range of backgrounds? This course is ideal for students who want to work directly in politics or electoral systems and those who want to pursue deeper study of the politics of representation and why diversity matters for democracy.

PA 5890, sec. 2: Politics and Law of Conflict Management and Intervention (3 cr.)

Instructor: Dipali Mukhopadhyay

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This course will invite students to consider the ways in which politics and law inform, undermine, and bypass one another in the realm of conflict management and military intervention. We will draw from a rich set of cases across time and space to examine the notion of “threats to peace and security” as it has evolved. We will then turn to the basket of instruments that make up contemporary intervention and conflict management, starting with prevention and the right to exercise self-defense. We will then move into the space of military interventions that have been framed (both strictly and loosely) as means of keeping or restoring the peace. From here, we will enter the arena of more aggressive interventions, those that aim at the breaking, making, or remaking of states. Finally, we will consider the newest frontiers of intervention, those that have been charted in the last decade.

Shadowy threats and elusive enemies have led to a variety of new, often controversial campaigns. New kinds of technology that could only have been imagined a few decades ago have made possible unprecedented forms of stealth and interference. And yet, some of the world’s most powerful states find themselves struggling on and off the battlefield. This is the conundrum we will consider in this final section of the course. Even as we consider the politics and geopolitics at hand, we will situate our empirical analysis of each case and/or phenomenon within the larger context of key legal doctrines, debates, and dilemmas. Unlike other survey courses on conflict management, we will not approach the material as a chronological catalog of interventions. Instead, we will engage the material thematically, juxtaposing more contemporary cases with historical ones in order to understand the various evolutions in political, legal, and operational thought.

Courses with New Instructors or Titles

PA 5190, sec. 1: Designing Change – Public Sector Problem Solving (1.5 cr.)

Instructor: Sandra Wolfe Wood

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We’ve all watched COVID-19 dramatically alter our lives in the last year—it has more than earned its title of “game changer.” One of the more troubling aspects of the pandemic is how human behavior has worked against efforts to stem its spread. This is the perfect human-centered design problem, and one that this class will address using the principles of design thinking. This course is an intensive deep dive into the intersection of human-centered design and the need for innovative, sustainable solutions. This class will teach you to question and think deeply, to produce novel ideas and synergies between existing ones, and make those ideas tangible and visible to others. This interpretive approach stands in stark contrast to more traditional methods that are often driven solely by numbers, analysis, and rationality. As someone who is interested in advancing the common good, you need to learn how to use both methods in tandem.


PA 5234: Urban Transportation Planning and Policy (3 cr.)

Instructor: Tao Tao is a Ph.D. student in Urban and Regional Planning. His current research involves in interactions between land use and travel behavior and transportation equity. 

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (3 cr.)

Instructor: Trupti Sarode is the Learning and Evaluation Manager for the Future Services Institute, an applied research and engagement center at the Humphrey School. She is also a Ph.D. student in Evaluation Studies at the College of Education and Human Development, UMN.

PA 5426, sec. 1: Community-Engaged Research and Policy with Marginalized Groups (3 cr.)

Previous title: Research and Policy with Marginalized Groups

Instructor: Christina Melander

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Marginalized populations tend to be viewed as objects of social policy, passive victims, or a cause of social problems. Policy and research—typically driven by mainstream or dominant narratives and actors—often lead to misunderstandings, paternalism, unintended consequences, ineffective policy, or harm. In this course, we will learn about community-engaged research methodologies such as participatory action research (PAR) and community-based participatory research (CPBR). These methods flip the paternalist script, giving marginalized community members a seat at the table. Students will work together on real-world research and policy challenges to gain practical skills and contribute to the field in real time.

PA 5743, sec. 1: Social Innovation Design Lab: Making Your Idea a Reality (1.5 cr.)

Instructors: Andrea Davila and Tony Loyd are currently co-teaching the Fall 2020 course GCC 5005: Innovation for the Public Good: Design for a Disrupted World. Andrea is an independent consultant who specializes in supporting social venture funds and social enterprises. A former Fortune 500 executive, Tony is an author, speaker, and business coach. He hosts the podcast Social Entrepreneur.

PA 5751: Addressing Climate and Energy Challenges at the Local Scale (3 cr.)

Previous title: Urban Infrastructure Systems

Instructor: Elise Harrington

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5920, sec. 1: Stakeholder Analysis Tool (0.5 cr.)

Instructor: Stephanie Jacobs has previously taught PA 5103: Leadership and Change and PA 4101: Nonprofit Management and Governance.

See ClassInfo and the class schedule for full course details.