Fall 2006 – Spring 2007
Introduction to the Study of Public Affairs
: Introduction to Public Affairs is a two-semester
course sequence that meets Michigan State University’s Integrative
Studies in Social Science requirement. The course as a whole focuses on
the dilemmas faced by contemporary democratic regimes in a world marked
by both cooperation and conflict. It addresses such issues as the
tension between liberty and security in democratic regimes confronted
by the threat of terrorism, the trade-offs between economic growth and
social and political equality in liberal market economies, the nature
of citizenship and national identities in the face of immigration, the
rise of ethnic nationalism and the breakdown of traditional cultures
under the impact of “globalization,” the rise of new forms of
authoritarianism, and the paradoxical strength of religious belief in
an age of unprecedented scientific and technological advance.
The course examines these dilemmas as they arise in the United States
and in other societies both democratic and undemocratic. It does so
from a number of different and sometimes competing intellectual
perspectives. The purpose of the course is not only to provide a forum
for discussing important issues in public affairs but also to introduce
you to a variety of intellectual tools both theoretical and empirical
for analyzing our contemporary dilemmas and arriving at sound judgments
on public policy. The course emphasizes the interdependence of social,
political, economic, and cultural factors in understanding public
affairs. While beginning from a consideration of the United States and
the challenges it faces in both domestic and foreign affairs, the
course emphasizes the need to develop a comparative and global
perspective for a full understanding of public affairs. The course is
intended as well to develop your skills in the critical reading and
analysis of texts, clear writing, articulate speaking, and attentive
The Public Affairs course does not aim to introduce the different
fields in the College. The College will sponsor additional activities
outside MC 201-202 to introduce these fields.
The following books may be purchased from the
Student Bookstore on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.
Kwame Anthony Appiah,
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers
W.W. Norton, 2006.
The Tortilla Curtain
, Penguin Books, 1995.
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay,
The Federalist Papers
, Signet Classics,
Democracy in America
, Penguin Classics, 2003.