"The BP Oil Spill and Federalism" was developed and administered by Dr. Carlene Thornton at the University of West Florida during the Spring semester of 2011. This course provides an opportunity for the student to become informed about Federalism and the roles played by federal, state and local government agencies and their administrators in addressing the environmental, economic, and social consequences of the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Students will have the opportunity to apply their critical thinking skills to controversial and problematic issues associated with the topic.
Specific learning objectives include the development of a basic understanding of the following topics and the ability to use related concepts in the analysis of American public affairs and public administration issues presented in this course:
- The nature of public administration in a democratic society
- The development of American federalism and current practices in intergovernmental relations
- The principal tools involved in intergovernmental relations such as grants, mandates, and preemptions.
- The political-legal environment in state agencies and local government organizations
- Administrative responsibility and strategies for managing complex problems that require intergovernmental communication and coordination
- Fundamental issues faced by local, state and federal administrators as they developed strategies to deal with the ongoing consequences of the BP oil spill.
- Accountability issues related to the environment and to the relationship between government organizations and for-profit private corporations.
The student should develop a basic conceptual framework for thinking about and analyzing issues relating to federalism in America. Class members will have the opportunity to acquire basic knowledge about the history and evolution of federalism
in the United States as a foundation for understanding the contemporary multi-layered structure of the United States government. Current practices in intergovernmental relations will be discussed during the course. Students are expected to apply the concepts and analytical skills introduced in the course to administrative decision-making cases and controversial issues related to dealing with regional and/or national crises. During the course, students should develop an appreciation for the significance and impact of the fundamental conflict between administrative values and democratic political values as well as the conflict between private for-profit corporations and governmental agencies and non-profit organizations.
CONTEXT FOR USE
The general format for the class is online discussion / participation with student analysis of selected articles and case studies taken from the American Public Administration literature and other relevant sources of information. There are specific written assignments relating to concepts and / or cases included in the course material. In addition to commenting on Discussion Forum topics, students will respond to Dropbox questions on a weekly basis. Two in-depth research / analysis papers will be required dealing with Federalism and the roles of public administrators in addressing the disastrous consequences of the April 20, 2010 oil rig explosion and the ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Students may select relevant topics reflecting their own special interests.) Other course requirements include mid-term and final examinations.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
The following textbooks are required for the course:
- Intergovernmental Management for the 21st Century (2008) by Tim Conlan and Paul Posner (Eds). Brookings Institution. ISBN-13: 978-0815715429.
- The Dictionary of Public Policy and Administration (2004) by Jay Shafritz. Westview Press. ISBN-13: 978-0813342603.
In addition, the following books are recommended:
- The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition.
- The Basics of American Politics (2010) by Gary Wasserman. 14th Edition Longman. ISBN-13: 978-0205782031
Supplemental electronic reserve, website references, and online documents will also be utilized.
This course, developed by Dr. Carlene Thornton at the University of West Florida, provides an opportunity for the student to become informed about Federalism and the roles played by federal, state and local government agencies and their administrators in addressing the environmental, economic, and social consequences of the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.