First Year Seminar 188H
Public Policy and the Family

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Steven Horwitz                                                                                               T, Th 8:30 – 10:00am
Associate Dean of the First Year/Professor of Economics                                            Hepburn 105
Whitman 168                                                                                                          W 1:40 – 3:10pm
229-5731 (O)                                                                                              Whitman 166 and others
379-9737 (H)
Office Hours: M 1:00-2:00pm, Th 1:30-2:30pm and by appointment
Email:                 AIM:  sghorwitz                           
Mentor: Emily Denham                      Email:

This course will explore various public policies related to the social institution of the family.  The course content will be an introduction to some general principles of public policy plus an in-depth focus on three sets of questions where family issues lead to the making of policy.  The central emphasis of the communication skills portion of the course is on understanding what is meant by “doing research” and in constructing, step-by-step, a research project that explores some public policy concerning the family and demonstrates an understanding of the complexity of the issues involved in formulating public policy related to it.  The first two-thirds of the semester will be fairly typical, in that we will discuss readings on specific topics in a variety of formats, with writing and speaking assignments that go along with them.  The last third will be a chance to share your research, as each of you will be responsible for 30 minutes of class time in which you will help your classmates learn about some aspect of your project.

We will begin by setting out a broad framework for analyzing public policy and the relationship between the rights of individuals and the role of the state.  We will then turn to three topics:  the problems and challenges of multiple parenting;  the role of economic policy in affecting the choices families make about work and home; and the legal status of same-sex marriage.  It is important for you to understand that this course will not give you “the” answers to what we should do about these issues.  Rather it will provide you with some ideas for determining what questions are important and how to find the resources to construct possible answers of your own.

The content work of the course will mostly take place during the Tuesday and Thursday morning sessions. The Wednesday afternoon period will mostly be used for working on the research skills that are the focus of our writing and speaking assignments this semester.  Just as the fall FYP was devoted to sharpening your writing and speaking skills in general, the spring will be devoted to your research skills.  Several of those skills-oriented meetings will be library workshops, while others will involve classroom work related to understanding how to do research. 

We will also be joined by a “graduate” of this FYS, Emily Denham, as our course mentor.  Emily is a junior and an English major who took this course in the Spring of 2005.  She has also taken other courses about gender and the family, she works at the library, and has been involved with the Academic Honor Council.  She did very well in this course two years ago, and she is an excellent writer.  She will be joining us in class on Wednesday afternoons and in the mornings when she can.  She is a huge resource for you so you should take advantage of her.

Course Texts
Articles and books:

Davis, J. P. (2004). The Rowman & Littlefield guide to writing with sources 2nd ed.. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.*

Gerstmann, E. (2004).  Same-sex marriage and the constitution. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, chapter 4.***

Hacker, D. (2004). A pocket style manual (4th ed.). New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s.*

Jacobsen, J. P. (1998).  The economics of gender, second edition.  New York: Blackwell, chapter 4.***

Mason, M. A., Skolnick, A., & Sugarman, S. D. (Eds.). (2003).  All our families, 2nd edition. New York:  Oxford University Press.*

McCaffery, E. J. (2002).  Women and Taxes, Policy report #520, National Center for Policy Analysis, retrieved January 9, 2003 from .**

Mill, J.S. (1859/1986). On liberty. New York, NY: Penguin Books.*

Perrin, R. (2004).  Pocket guide to APA style.  Boston:  Houghton-Mifflin.*

Rauch, J. (2004).  Gay marriage:  Why it is good for gays, good for straights, and good for America. New York:  Times Books.*

Plus, readings from your classmates as part of “Sharing Your Research” available on ANGEL.

US Supreme Court cases:

Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)**
Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)**
Prince v. Massachusetts (1944)**
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)**

Television episodes:

Family Law (in-class viewing)
Judging Amy (in-class viewing)
Star Trek:  The Next Generation:  “The Offspring” (campus network)

*          Available at Brewer Bookstore
**        Available on ANGEL
***      To be distributed in class


A Framework for Analysis

Tues  Jan 23:  Opening discussion.    Personal introductions.  Introduction to public policy and the family.
Wed  Jan 24:   Introduction to course and syllabus. Go over syllabus and discuss research project. (Whitman 166)
Thur  Jan 25:   Form, function, and the American familyReading:  All our Families, chapter 1.


Tues  Jan 30:   The triangle of family-oriented public policy. Video:  “The Offspring”.
Wed  Jan 31:   The individual, the family, and the stateReading: Mill, On Liberty. (Whitman 166)
Thur  Feb  1:    The individual, the family, and the state. Mill, continued.


Tues  Feb  6:    Workshop: finding journal articles    (ODY BI room)
Wed  Feb  7:   Workshop: using other databases / citation   (ODY BI room)
Thur  Feb  8:    The individual, the family, and the state. Mill, continued.


Tues  Feb 13:   Parental rights and individual liberty. Readings: The Supreme Court cases: Meyer v. Nebraska (1923); Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925); Prince v. Massachusetts (1944).
Wed  Feb 14:  Workshop: using the Web critically  (ODY BI room)
Thur  Feb 15:   In the best interest of the child. Reading:  All our Families, chapter 13, and excerpt from Family Law (shown in class).


Multiparent Families

Tues  Feb  20:  Step-families and gay/lesbian families. ReadingsAll our Families, chapters 5 and 7.
Wed  Feb  21:  One-on-one progress conferences (ODY reference area)
Thur  Feb  22:  Multiparent speeches and policy debate. Preparation day and work on oral communication skills.  College Success Questionnaire administered at 9:30.


Tues  Feb  27:  Multiparent speeches and policy debate. Small-group rehearsals of speeches.
Wed  Feb  28:  Thesis, claims, and evidence and “speed dating”  (Whitman 166)
Thur  Mar   1:  The Multiparent Hearing and Debate.  Presentations of speeches and discussion.

Economic Policy and Family Form

Tues  Mar   6:  The economics of labor force participationReadingJacobsen, Economics of Gender, ch. 4.
Wed  Mar   7:  Ethics and rhetoric of working with sources  (Whitman 166)
Thur  Mar   8:  Women, work, and taxesReadings:  McCaffery, “Women and Taxes.”


Tues  Mar 13:  Economic policy and family form.  Social Security, taxes, and child care.  ReadingAll our Families, chapter 10
Wed  Mar 14:  The functional outline and individual research project conferences (Whitman 166/168)

Same-Sex Marriage


Thur  Mar 15:  Same-sex marriage: Some constitutional considerationsReading:  Gerstmann, “The Fundamental Right to Marry;”  Lawrence v. Texas (2003).


Tues  Mar 27:  Same-sex marriage: Why it’s goodReadingRauch, Gay Marriage, pp. 1-103.
Wed  Mar 28:  Research skills exam(Whitman 166)
Thur  Mar 29:  Same-sex marriage:  Other arguments and the federalist solution.  Reading:  Rauch, Gay Marriage, pp. 104-96.


Sharing Your Research

Tues  Apr   3:  Preparing for the Sharing Your Research daysReadings:  TBA
Wed  Apr   4:  Research project and SYR preparation conferences (Whitman 168: 1:00 - 4:00)
Thur  Apr   5: Individual research project conferences (Whitman 168)


Tues  Apr 10:  Sharing Your Research
Wed  Apr 11:  Sharing Your Research (1) / Individual SYR preparation conferences
Thur  Apr 12:  Sharing Your Research


Tues  Apr 17:  Sharing Your Research
Wed  Apr 18:  Sharing Your Research  (1) / Individual SYR preparation conferences
Thur  Apr 19:  Sharing Your Research


Tues  Apr 24:  Sharing Your Research
Wed  Apr 25:  Sharing Your Research  (1) / Individual SYR preparation conferences
Thur  Apr 26:  Sharing Your Research


Tues  May  1:  Sharing Your Research
Wed  May  2:  Individual draft conferences  (Whitman 168: 12:30- 4:00)
Thur  May  3:  Semester wrap-up and course evaluations


Grading Breakdown

Assignment                                                                 Due Date                        % of Final Grade
Mill paper and group presentation                                                                                                    10%
first draft            Sun      Feb   4                        
final draft            Mon     Feb  19                       
Multiparent families hearing and debate                                                                                                                                  10%
Class preparation and participation – SYRs                                                                                                                   5%
Class preparation and participation - general                                                                                                                 10%
Electronic learning journal                                                   (various)                                   5%
Research skills exam                    Wed    Mar  28                                  5%
Sharing Your Research assignment                                          (various)                                  15%

Research project
            Notes on sources I                                           Fri        Feb   16
            Notes on sources II/Precis                                Fri        Mar   2                         10%
            Thesis, claims, and evidence                           Fri        Mar   9
            First functional outline                                     Mon     Apr   2                        
            Second functional outline                                Fri        Apr   13                       10%
            Full draft                                                          Fri        Apr   20                       10%
            Final draft                                                        Wed     May  9                         10%
                                                                                                            Total of:            40%

Assignments Overview

Class preparation and participation: The First-Year Program considers students to be partners in the search for knowledge.  One of our goals is to help you communicate more effectively, both in writing and orally, your beliefs, opinions, and knowledge.  As a result, part of your grade in this course will be based on class participation, which includes your attendance.  Simply put, this course will not work if you do not participate.  If you come prepared and willing to contribute, this course can be much more interesting and rewarding for all of us.  Your preparation and participation are also important later in the semester when your fellow students are sharing their research with us all.  If you want them to care about what you have to say and make your job easier by being active participants when it’s your turn, you should do the same for them.  Don’t forget:  participation is not just about quantity, it is also about quality.  Do the reading and come prepared and ready to contribute.  Attendance and participation will be monitored very closely and on a daily basis.

What is “good” participation?  Simply talking a lot in class is not necessarily good participation. I am much more concerned about the quality and seriousness of your engagement in the course.  Quality class participation includes coming to class every day well-prepared, paying attention, making meaningful contributions to class discussions, and being a pleasant, productive member of this course.  It is not a contest to see who can talk the most or the loudest.  There are a multitude of ways you can participate in the intellectual and social experience of this course; unfortunately, there are at least as many ways that you can opt out or undermine it.  This grade is not meant to penalize you for being shy or reticent to offer your opinion in class.  It is meant to reward you for attempting, in your own personal way, to make this class an enjoyable intellectual and social experience for you and your fellow students.  Although good class participation can come in many forms, speaking in class is necessary, but not sufficient, to earn a satisfactory participation grade. Please come talk to me if you have any concerns about your participation at any point in the semester. 

Electronic learning journal:  At six points during the semester you will be asked to write reflectively on some aspect of the work that we are doing in class.  Those reflections will be kept in a Word document and turned in via ANGEL.  I will read your reflections and respond to what you have to say, and I will expect that you will, where possible, respond in turn to my responses, so that what you end up producing is a written conversation between the two of us about the work of the course.

Research skills exam:  After you have done the bulk of your research, you will take an exam on research skills to make sure that you have retained the sorts of skills we have been working on.  The exam will take place in seminar on Wednesday, March 28.

Sharing your research (SYR) assignment:  A significant component of this class is for you to learn from each other; the SYR assignment is the cornerstone of that learning.  Specifically, on several days of class during the second half of the semester (SYR Days), each of you will be responsible for conducting 30 minutes worth of class.  You will not be lecturing on your topic, but rather creating an environment wherein your classmates can learn some key lesson about the topic of your research project through their engagement with the topic.  Prior to your SYR, you will choose a short (5 pages or fewer) reading from your research for everyone to read.  I would encourage you to begin thinking about what part or parts of articles or court cases you will use for that purpose early in the research process, so that we can prepare for it in advance.  You will be provided with a detailed assignment sheet, and we will spend a class period preparing for this assignment.

Research project:  Obviously we will talk a great deal about the research project as it is the main assignment this semester.  As you can see above, the project will be broken down into pieces that build toward a complete full draft and revised final draft.  The total weight of the research project is 40% of your final course grade.  All of the steps in the research project process are required even if they are not specifically graded. We will talk about the various assignments in more detail as they approach, but below is a quick overview. 

Notes on sources and précis:  One of the key portions of the research project will be keeping notes on your sources.  Rather than providing me with a running bibliography or an annotated bibliography, you will be asked to fill out a worksheet on every source you are considering using for your project.  These worksheets are designed to help you begin the process of sifting through the sources you find, evaluating them and determining how useful they will be; they will also help you keep track of the searches that you have conducted.  You will be asked to turn in worksheets for at least 10 sources during the semester along with histories of your searches.  Finally, you will complete a précis (a specific type of summary) for at least two sources that you expect to figure prominently in your project.  You will also turn in a revised version of your research question each time you turn in your notes on sources.

Thesis, claims, and evidence:  Once the bulk of your research, reading and note-taking is completed, you will begin the process of moving from the body of literature you have amassed to your own scholarly paper.  The first step in this process will be to develop a working thesis and to identify the claims that you will need to establish to support that thesis. After you have identified your thesis and claims, you will need to evaluate the evidence for those claims found within the literature you have uncovered.  This process will inevitably lead to revising your claims and hence your thesis.  You will turn in a thesis, a set of claims, and the evidence you believe you have for each claim so that I can provide you some feedback on the structure of your paper.  

Functional outlines:  After creating a structure for your argument, you will then organize by using a functional outline. A functional outline is an organizational strategy in which the writer discusses the purpose of each section and each paragraph of his or her paper and the content to be covered.  You will turn in two drafts of your functional outline on which I will give you feedback.   With the first draft, you will also provide a current list of references in American Psychological Association (APA) reference list format; we will discuss APA format extensively in class.  In addition, the first draft will also be accompanied by a “cover letter” that outlines what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your work.


Full and final drafts:  I will provide you with more information on what I mean by a “full draft” when we are approaching that point in the process, but please note that a full draft is emphatically not a “first draft” and even less a “rough draft.”  If you have taken good notes on your sources and taken the thesis, claims and evidence and functional outline assignments seriously, writing a really good full draft should be relatively easy.  I also expect that the changes you make between this draft and the final draft should be largely marginal, as I’ll already have seen your sources and gone over the organization of the paper.  The full draft will also include a cover letter as you did with the functional outlines.

Research binder: You will also be required to keep all of the materials related to your research project in a three-ring binder.  In that binder, you will keep your search log, completed worksheets and other notes you take on the sources you are using, copies of all the articles and book chapters on which you take notes (i.e., the sources you will be using for your research paper), all of the assignments that you are required to complete as part of the research project (e.g., the thesis, claims and support assignment), and any other notes and record-keeping you do that is relevant to the research project. You will turn the binder into me as you hand in various portions of the research project, including the notes on sources, the thesis, claims and evidence assignment, and the full draft and final draft.  Failure to turn in your binder when it is required or to use it as intended will affect your final grade on the research project.  Your completed electronic learning journal should be printed out and placed in your research binder when you turn it in with your final draft.
Seminars and library workshops:  Some of class sessions will begin take place in the library.  The same rules and expectations that apply to the regular class sessions apply to these sessions.  You are expected to be on time, to do your assignments and to generally adhere to standards of classroom conduct.  The more engaged you are in the library and research skills sessions, the better your research project will be.

Late policies:  Unless I announce a schedule change in class or via email, the due dates in this syllabus are to be respected.  All late graded work is subject to a 0.2 penalty per 24 hours of lateness (including weekends).  All of the ungraded components of the research project are due on Fridays or Mondays at 2:00.  Ungraded work that is turned in late will be subject to the following late penalties, which will be deducted from your grade on the final draft: .15 if received by Saturday at 2:00 PM, .2 if received by Sunday at 2:00, and .25 if received by Monday at 8:00 AM.  After Monday at 8:00 AM, ungraded work will not be accepted, and the penalty will be .5 deducted from your grade on the final draft.  Extensions will not be given except under the most extenuating of circumstances.  Requests for extensions should be made at least 48 hours before the due date, and any late work without an approved extension will be penalized.  You must speak to me if you are seeking an extension; do not request an extension via email.

Changes to the schedule:  It is certainly possible that the order of events on this syllabus may change as the semester progresses.  I will make every effort to notify you about such changes as soon, and as frequently, as possible – in class and/or by SLU email.  However, it remains your responsibility to be aware of such changes.  I use your SLU email account as my primary way to contact you outside of class, so you should be checking your email at least twice a day, if not more.  Attendance in class, reading your email, and checking ANGEL on a regular basis will ensure that you always know of any changes.  “I didn’t know we changed that” is not a legitimate excuse for late or missing work.


First-Year Program Philosophy and Goals 2006-07

The First-Year Program (FYP) and First-Year Seminar (FYS) are the first steps in a four-year process of helping you meet the University’s Aims and Objectives and the broader goals of a liberal education.  The faculty of the FYP and FYS see themselves as partners and mentors in the process of working with you to acquire the intellectual habits of mind, the writing, speaking, and research skills, and the ethical self-reflexiveness that are at the core of a liberal education.  The FYP and FYS will ask you to consider new perspectives on the world and your place in it and will challenge you to confront many of the hidden assumptions you bring to college with you.  We hope to open you to new ideas, help you to see the complexity of the way in which knowledge gets produced and used in society, and encourage you to see yourself as an active contributor in making the world a better place.  The course topics, the texts you will read, listen to, and watch, the in-class and out-of-class activities you will engage in, and the writing, speaking, and research assignments you will work on are all designed to introduce you to the depth of critical thinking and the quality and complexity of the communication skills that will be expected of you at SLU and as a citizen of an increasingly diverse society.
First and foremost among our goals are those related to your abilities as a communicator.  The work of the FYP and FYS asks you to design and deliver written, spoken, performed and/or visual texts that demonstrate basic skills in the relevant modes of communication and with an increasing degree of rhetorical sensitivity.  Our focus on “rhetorical sensitivity” means that we expect you to cultivate the awareness that all of your communication, whether formal or informal, involves having to make choices about your messages, whether written, spoken, aural or visual.  To become a good communicator, you need to recognize that the creation of meaningful and powerful written, spoken, performed, or visual texts involves both a creator and an audience, and that therefore the voice you adopt in your communication, the audience you imagine yourself communicating to, and the social and ethical context of the content, matter a great deal in creating such texts.  One important way to become a better communicator is to become a better critical reader, viewer, and listener, which is why we will ask you to engage challenging materials in a variety of forms and work with you to learn how to interpret them.

Learning to read, listen, write, speak, do research and/or perform well also requires feedback.  As faculty, we submit our work for feedback from colleagues all the time, and giving and receiving constructive feedback from both friends and strangers is central to collaborative work in any field and is itself a form of critical thinking and learning.  We further recognize that this feedback process is not linear and that good communication requires that you continually rethink, restructure, and revise your work in order for it to be your best. This is why we require that your writing, speaking, and performance assignments be “projects” that include preparatory exercises and multiple drafts or rehearsals, all of which ask you to continue to reflect critically on the choices you have made in the texts that you produce.  Furthermore, we see all of these forms of communication as complementary and intertwined, which is why many of your assignments will ask you to integrate elements of the written, spoken, performed, and visual.   Finally, developing good habits of critical inquiry and communication also means reflecting on the ethical dimensions of how your work represents that of others, thus one of our goals is to help you to understand both the nature of academic integrity and the social processes by which knowledge is produced and represented.

To ensure that the program is meeting its stated goals, all FYP and FYS syllabi are read by other faculty in the program to determine if they include a variety of assignments that foster the writing, speaking, research, and critical thinking goals of the program.  All FYP and FYS courses have to be approved by faculty in the program before they are offered.


With respect to research skills specificially, our learning goals for the spring are that you should: