GOVT 2305 Policy Project
For this project, you will need to select a particular policy proposal to explore. Note that you need to decide on a specific policy or law, not just a policy area – Gun Control or Gun Rights are NOT policies; concealed carry or a ban on assault weapons ARE policies. It may be a policy that has passed, or one that has simply been proposed and debated within the US political structure, at some point since the year 2000 (yes, this is an arbitrary cutoff date, but should help to ensure that there is plenty of information available regarding your policy.)
For the policy you decide on, you must construct a concept map (sometimes called a mind map) outlining a couple facets of the policy. Examples are provided for you on Blackboard, and contain more info that your map will require. Concept maps provide a concise, visual method of exploring and understanding complex ideas – you might think of them a cross between a traditional spatial map (think: road map) and an essay outline. You are welcome to construct your map by hand on paper, or with the assistance of a computer (several software options are provided on Blackboard). Your concept map needs to address the following issues:
- The actual contents of the policy – what the law or proposal does (or wants to do).
- The goals and outcomes of the policy. Provide some evaluation as to whether the goals have been achieved. Consider any unintended consequences, either good or bad.
- The interest groups working with regard to your policy. Include BOTH supporters and opponents, and some indication of WHY and HOW they acted on this issue. Political parties, individual actors, citizen groups, PACs, business associations, etc. are all fair game. For individual people, be sure to include a name; for groups, include both the group name and a web address if applicable.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY! The key benefit of a concept map is the ability to show connections between seemingly unconnected points, so your key task is to highlight the relationships between the various parts of the political process: cause and effect between law and consequences, and the path of influence between interest groups and the policy contents and outcomes. Things to consider: what parts of the law were shaped by, or in response to, different interest groups – what was included or excluded, strengthened or watered down? What consequences did groups want to have happen, or warn others might happen?
- The relationships you highlight need to be explained – you may do so by adding informational text to the map itself, or by labeling each relationship you find and submitting an additional page or two of explanation (bulleted lists are fine, just be sure that there is a label to link the bullet point to the relationship on your map.)
- Each individual will see and understand the policy environment in a slightly different fashion – your task is to illustrate YOUR view and understanding. How you structure and present your map is up to you. Please consult with me if you are having trouble.