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January Program


We offer the following courses in Washington, DC during the 2019 January term: Tax Policy & Politics | Public Management of Technology Development | Authoritarianism Today.  These seminars meet intensively each day during the first two weeks of January.

Tax Policy & Politics

PAI 730 Section M001

Professor Burman's 2019 DRAFT Syllabus

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” The price of civilized society depends not only on the amount of revenue raised, but on the way it is done. How progressive should the tax system be? Should the tax system reward good behavior and punish bad? Should it provide subsidies to achieve social objectives, such as decent childcare, affordable housing, or access to health care? How should married couples and families be taxed? Should death be a taxable event? Should we tax the amount people earn or the amount people spend? How much complexity can people tolerate in furtherance of social or other tax policy objectives? How should the tax burden be distributed among generations? The objectives of this course are: (1) to understand how the tax system got the way it is today; (2) to understand the major tax policy issues that drive the current political debate; and, (3) to understand the implications of alternative tax policy choices for the future.

Professor Leonard Burman instructs this course.

Public Management of Technology Development

PAI 700 Section M001

Professor Sean O'Keefe's 2018 Syllabus

This course provides a survey of major public policy influences on the formulation and implementation of commercial technology and innovation strategies.

The primary public influence of commercially developed technology and innovation is regulatory in nature, but also pertains to public financed contracts and grants managed by public agencies to support technology developments for application to public programs and services.  Government policy and statutory requirements can create the need for technology solutions or impede the development of others.  Similarly, the public sector can actively affect market opportunities through the promotion of specific policies and government sponsored programs, as well as the elimination of others. 

Technology development offers public and private organizations new avenues to explore productivity enhancement and improved service delivery or increased profitability and market expansion which, in turn, leads to the imperative for innovation change. Successful technology strategies are closely linked to business strategies which match the organization’s existing capabilities or offer a road map to a new service or product developments.  To the extent there is an application or impact to public objectives, public policy and public management practices can either facilitate or deter market incentives to achieve the objectives.

The public sector is frequently both the consumer and regulator of technology advances.  For aspiring public managers, this course will examine the active and passive government influences, which can and have been exerted over technology and innovation management.  For aspiring business managers and technical professionals in engineering or information systems, this course will provide a perspective of the applications of public policy and public management practices and will offer constructive avenues on how government actions on behalf of the public may be anticipated. 

 Professor Sean O'Keefe teaches this course.

Authoritarianism Today

GEO 700 Section M002

2020 Working Syllabus

This is an advanced course on the geopolitics of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is a something people usually understand as bounded by the political borders of a territorial state: some countries are imagined to be democratic, others authoritarian. Yet most observers would readily concede that, even in the most centralized of political systems, state power is never homogeneously expressed within a territorial state. Many authoritarian states permit or create islands of freedom within the wider illiberal order, while authoritarian political relations are pervasive in ostensibly democratic settings, such as in prisons, military institutions, or migrant detention facilities. The very patchiness of authoritarian orders and relations has recently led scholars and policymakers to rethink to the challenges of authoritarianism today – specifically examining it as something that is not necessarily territorially-bounded. This theoretical approach raises a number of questions about how practitioners should define and locate authoritarianism. Accordingly, this course draws on case studies from around the world, and testimonials from individuals working in various institutions around Washington, D.C. to examine the challenges of authoritarianism today. The course covers scholarship on authoritarianism from a wide range of disciplines, including geography, history, political science, sociology, and anthropology, with the broader goal of the course is to develop a spatial approach to understanding the persistence of authoritarian practices of governing, the scales at which they manifest, and the practice-oriented questions they raise.

Professor Natalie Koch teaches this course.