WWS Blog

WWS 501: The Politics of Public Policy

Apr 7, 2013
Published by:
Seyron Foo
WWS 501: The Politics of Public Policy

WWS 501: the Politics of Public Policy serves as a rite of passage for your first semester as an M.P.A. at the Woodrow Wilson School. The key feature of the course includes the almost weekly memorandums covering an array of political considerations when considering proposals confronted by policymakers on a daily basis. The class brings multiple perspectives, with Woodrow Wilson faculty members from both subjects of international relations and American politics.

This past year, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and former Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, co-taught the course with Professor Amy Lerman, former director of the 2006 California Correctional Officer Survey Project. Both brought their experience in politics to the course.

Topics for the memos ranged from conditional cash transfers in Haiti to the construction of prisons in urban settings. The course challenged us to work within political constraints in advancing and advocating policies. Despite my background as a legislative staffer, I found 501 to be incredibly insightful, putting in place a framework to understand the underpinnings of lessons learned in state government.

The highlight of the course comes at the end of the semester. In lieu of a final exam, we participated in a simulation. This year’s simulation topic cast us in the role of the United Nations General Assembly, working to address issues of the protection of civilians in peacekeeping. With students forming teams to represent countries, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations, we engaged in negotiations, plenary sessions, and an exorbitant number of meetings to push through resolutions.

You can check out some of the deliberations, action, and undoubtedly goofiness, during simulation by checking out the simulation’s own press corps (no, we’re not kidding) here: Ben Horowitz’s The Robertson Times and my publication The Turtle Bay Telegraph.

Article written by Seyron Foo

Seyron FooHailing from sunny southern California, Seyron returns to the Woodrow Wilson School after having enjoyed a lovely, humid summer in 2008 as a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) fellow. Most recently, he served as a legislative aide for California Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett, where he worked on issues pertaining to civil law, banking and corporation law, civil rights, transportation and housing policy, privacy law, and public pensions. He was also the staff consultant for the Senate Select Committee on Biotechnology, and also staffed Senator Corbett on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’s implemented policy to deploy electric vehicles in California, and negotiated extensive legislation to address the foreclosure crisis. Seyron also served as the Majority Leader’s liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. Active in local and state politics, he chaired the Political Action Committee of the Sacramento Stonewall Democrats, and has worked on several state senate campaigns. He started in the Legislature as a California Senate Fellow. Born in Malaysia, he is fond of preparing and enjoying spicy foods. After WWS, Seyron plans to work in budget policy at the federal and state level.