Fall 2024  |  PA 5011 Section 002: Dynamics of Public Affairs Organizations (23131)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Grading Basis:
A-F or Audit
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
In Person
Class Attributes:
Online Course
Enrollment Requirements:
Public Policy major and minor or Human Rights major
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
09/03/2024 - 12/11/2024
Tue 06:00PM - 08:45PM
UMTC, West Bank
Hubert H Humphrey Center 60
Enrollment Status:
Open (18 of 32 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Critical analysis of organizations in the world of public affairs from multiple levels - including the individual, group, organization, and sector - and the dynamics of relationships among them. Develop actionable recommendations to improve organizational effectiveness in the context of multiple (often contested) prosocial purposes and conflicting stakeholder demands. Memo writing, case analyses, simulations, guest speakers, and self-awareness exercises
Class Description:

Organizations pervade human life. They are sites of power, innovation, and social change. They can also be places that discourage initiative and reinforce inequalities found in society. Effective organizational management and leadership are critical to achieving broadly beneficial social, economic, and public value. The task is difficult because of the complexity of human behavior in organizations, constrained resources, competing demands of many stakeholders outside of the organization, and pervasive changes in our world. Most of you will work in some kind of organization when you graduate, and many, if not most, of you will be leaders (and potentially managers) during your careers. This course will help prepare you to be an organizational leader, focusing on empowering you with the courage to act under uncertainty in order to build community amongst staff, lead by example, and strengthen the effectiveness of your organization.

To create that foundation, we focus on different ways to analyze organizations and develop sound recommendations for change. Part of the analytical task is to dissect important aspects of organizations in general, including for example, both their formal and informal structures, systems, and cultures. Another part of this task is to learn how organizations are shaped by and shape external environments that encompass political, policy, and resource institutions. Additionally, to analyze organizations, one must also pay close attention to the human beings who work there and their experiences, identities, and motivations. The course introduces you to some of the major theoretical approaches to organizational analysis, including concepts from sociology, psychology, management, public administration, and political science. Learning to use multiple perspectives is critical because each contributes an alternative understanding of how to develop and sustain effective organizations and, ultimately, to create public value. While the course is applicable to a wide range of organizational settings, it pays particular attention to studies of nonprofit and governmental settings. Throughout, you will be encouraged to share your own professional experiences with organizations. It also may be possible that you have not worked for a "formal" organization. If this is the case, remember that your experience is equally important for collective growth and learning in the course, and feel free to contribute using parallel experiences that have affected you - whether you have been managed or advised by a professor in the university, engaged in volunteer work at an organization, or participated in another community group where you have learned about organizational dynamics.
Learning Objectives:

· Understand how to work effectively in and through public and nonprofit organizations in the context of multiple (and often contested) public purposes, conflicting stakeholder demands, and a diverse world;

· Think critically about organizations and managerial roles, especially regarding ways in which they reflect and create power and privilege;

· Develop actionable recommendations from your organizational analyses in order to improve their effectiveness; and,

· Demonstrate management skills including memo writing, professional presentations, and team development and management.


Grade Weighting



Weekly Reflection Posts (11 @ 1.82% each)


Personal User Manual


Group Norms


Management Case Memos (3 @ 10% each; or the first 2 at 15% )


Reflected Best Self-Exercise


Class Format:
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
4 September 2023

ClassInfo Links - Fall 2024 Public Affairs Classes Taught by Shahrin Upoma

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