Benjamin Schneer

Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Government officials both shape and respond to the policy preferences of the electorate. Understanding this dynamic process is critical for policymakers as well as for informed observers of politics, and it illuminates a number of questions with practical applications: How would public policies change if everyone voted? What mechanisms might compel government officials to be more responsive to the wishes of their constituents? How representative is representative democracy anyway? In answering questions such as these, this course covers topics including how citizens form opinions, the role of traditional and social media as a source of information (and misinformation), the place of elections and electoral institutions in a representative democracy, and how alternative forms of political action such as the petition and the initiative process may influence policymaking.  This course offers students interested in a career in politics or policymaking an opportunity to examine what matters when decision makers are translating public opinion into public policy.

Also offered by the Government Department as Gov 1389.