Fall 2020  |  PA 5490 Section 002: Topics in Social Policy -- The Politics and Policy of Demographic Change (33326)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Repeat Credit Limit:
12 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option No Audit
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
Completely Online
Class Attributes:
Topics Course
Enrollment Requirements:
Graduate Student
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
09/08/2020 - 12/16/2020
Tue, Thu 04:00PM - 05:15PM
Off Campus
Enrollment Status:
Open (9 of 20 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Selected topics.
Class Notes:
5490-2 will be offered REMOTELY. Class will meet synchronously-online during Fall 2020, Tuesdays/Thursdays, 4:00 - 5:15. http://classinfo.umn.edu/?dorelien+PA5490+Fall2020
Class Description:
There are two tenets that motivate this course:
      1. You cannot have effective policy without good data.
      2. Representation in our democracy and state's tax capacity are based on Census counts (everyone gets counted regardless of age, citizenship, voting eligibility, race, and gender). Therefore the census has always been a weapon of political power; and from the beginning people have sought ways to manipulate the census for political gains.

      The first part of the course focuses on the history and politics of the US Census. Students will have a clear understanding of some of the major uses of census data ( including how can data be useful for the COVID19 response); understand how historical events and policy debates have shaped the census overtime; and understand the concerns relating to undercounting, privacy, and debate about the citizenship question. Next the course focuses on the impact of demographic change on politics and policy, specifically voting behavior and party competition. Specific demographic trends of interest include population ageing, immigration, changes in US racial composition, and distribution/internal migration. Finally in the third section, we focus on policies that impact demographic behavior (for instance gender equality policies) and policies that manipulate/distort the impact of census counts such as gerrymandering and felony disenfranchisement.

      Who Should Take This Class?:
      This course counts towards the Population Studies Minor and the Politics and Governance Concentration.
      Learning Objectives:

      At the end of this course:

      • Students will understand the role that the census and census data plays in US politics and policy.
      • Students will be knowledgeable of some of the major demographic trends affecting American society; they will know how that information is collected and where to find that information.
      • New for Fall 2020: Students will have a lab session where they learn how to create thematic maps using Tableau Software. This is important in order to be able to visualize geographic trends.

      • Student will enhance their listening and discussion skills. Demonstrate ability to civilly discuss topics related to race, immigration, and political parties using three parts of an argument: Assertion, Reasoning, Evidence (ARE).
      • Students will enhance their writing and presentations skills. Students will be put in the role of a state demographer and will create a series of short briefs describing key demographic trends and their impacts as well as analyze the demographic impacts of policies such as felony disenfranchisement.

      • Journaling/Assignments (24%) : You are expected to complete 5 journal responses and one short assignment. If you miss class you are expected to submit a journal response based on the readings for the day you missed.

      • Memo (36%): Your memo grade is a combination of in class group presentation(s) and one individually written memo.

      • Op-Ed (40%): You are required to submit a first draft, second draft, and give an oral brief of the op-ed before submitting the final draft for a grade. Op-ed have to be under 1,000 words.
      Exam Format:
      • No final exam, instead the final project is the submission of an Op-Ed to a publication.
      Class Format:

      This fall the course will be taught online. Majority of the classes will be synchronous but there will also be some asynchronous sessions

      • This course was originally designed as a hybrid course which means that much of the content will be presented online leaving majority of class time for discussion, presentations, and feedback.
      • This course will incorporate material from a wide range of sources including journal articles, book chapters, reports, newspaper articles, podcasts.
      Past Syllabi:
      http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/dorelien_PA5490_Fall2019.pdf (Fall 2019)
      Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
      29 June 2020

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