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Foreign Policy

Professors Mike Tierney & David Trichler


This course explores how policy is made and implemented in Washington, D.C. We will analyze the factors that shape policy choices and their execution / enforcement across a range of issue areas and institutions at both the national and international level. The course will focus substantial attention on the utility and shortcomings of a political economy approach to the subject of policymaking. Students will be introduced to principal-agent theory, which focuses on the locus of formal policy making authority and the conditions under which actors who have policymaking authority (principals) will delegate authority to other actors (their agents). We will also attempt to understand the incentives that agents have to behave in particular ways. Principal-agent theory does not explain everything about the policy process or policy outcomes, but it is a powerful analytic framework that helps us to think clearly about the actors who have policymaking authority, the incentives they face, and the policy outcomes that result from these interactions.