URBS 4/511—Urban Policy & Strategic Analysis

“Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other words, liberalism defines government as tyrant father but demands it behave as nurturant mother.”

Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae (1990, p. 2ff.)

Term: Spring, 2010

Instructor: Tony Filipovitch, 106 Morris Hall, 507-389-5035, 507-388-2264 (home)

Office Hours: My office hours are posted here.  I am available in my office at those times (or other times by appointment). I also check my e-mail daily (usually several times during the day), and have an answering machine on both my home and office phone. There is no reason to flounder around, unsure of what “he wants” or confused about what you are doing; and even if everything is going fine with the coursework, there is more to learning than completing the assignments. I encourage you to visit me, in person or at a distance by phone or e-mail, many times during the course.


Bardach, Eugene. 2009. A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis, 3rd Ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Dixit, Avinash K. & Nalebuff, Barry J. 2008. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business & Life. NY: W.W. Norton.

Course Objectives:

This course is a survey of strategic decision-making and strategy implementation for policy makers. Whether you pursue a public-sector career in urban affairs (in management or in planning), a private sector career in development or corporate public affairs, or a career in the non-profit sector, you will need to understand the strategic process of crafting policy.

Two assumptions underlie this approach to the class:

  • that there are competing, equally valid approaches to the process of planning and developing a community, and
  • that the planning process and the policy-making process are intertwined (and therefore interesting to urban managers as well as urban planners and private-sector practitioners).


By the end of the course, students should be able to:

1.      Explain basic policy considerations such as policy construction, impact of perspective, the uses of power;

2.      Develop strategies for designing & implementing policy, including obtaining internal & external commitment

3.      Explain the use of various strategic tools, such as historical analysis, frame analysis, power analysis, negotiations, and game analysis

4.      Select and apply appropriate strategic tools to real-world urban and community issues.

Course Calendar

Due date






A Framework for Policy Analysis


Context for Developing Strategy


Policy Analysis Basics

Practical Guide



Reasonable Differences

“Policy Making and Planning,” “Making the Most of Analysis” & “Conducting Policy” (in D2L contents)




Forester, Getting & Using Power & “Coping”

Landowner’s Game

Strategic Thinking


Thinking Strategically

Building the Plan & Implementing the Plan



Getting Commitment

“Holistic strategy,” “Motivating employees,” “Building commitment,” & “Community engagement” (in D2L Contents)

Beaver County Case”

Tools for Strategy


The Basics & The Uses of History

Benefit/Cost Analysis & Thinking in Time




Frame Analysis; Watzlawick, “Gentle art of reframing,” (in D2L Contents);

“Gift of the Universe”


Playing the Game


The Art of Strategy

Art of Strategy, Chs. 1 & 14; “Strategic Analysis of Social Problems” (in D2L Contents)



Sequential Decisions

Art, Ch. 2



Simultaneous Decisions

Art, Chs. 3-4



Mixed Strategies

Art, Chs. 5-7



Signals & Screens

Art, Chs. 8-9



Auctions & Bargaining

Art, Chs. 10-11




Art, Chs. 12-13



Finals—Course evaluation due


Magister Ludi assignment

Instructional Methodology and Teaching Strategies:

A variety of techniques will be employed throughout the course. While there will be reading and lectures, this course is heavily weighted to case study and seminar-style discussion. My teaching style is based on an "adult-centered" model which assumes that you are active participants, each responsible for your own learning, and I am a facilitator and resource who helps you advance your project. My goal for myself as a teacher is to "take you someplace you would never before have gone alone."

Instructional Management System & Communication Protocols:

        The course will use D2L as the instructional management system. Discussion lists, assignments, grade rosters, and other course management issues will be handled through that site.

        The software for this course will be PC-based Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, or compatibles. I prefer to receive e-mail and course submissions to my e-mail address (not to D2L), and I can only open Microsoft Word or text files (if you are using, say, WordPerfect, make sure to send any files to me in .txt or .rtf format).

        I will communicate with you using your official MSU e-mail address; if this is not your preferred e-mail provider, make sure you have set your MSU e-mail account to forward to your preferred address (instructions are available from the help desk at help@mnsu.edu or 507-389-6654).

        I generally will reply to e-mails within 48 hours (give me an additional 24 hours over the weekends), unless I have notified the class through D2L that I expect to be away from my computer (e.g., when I am attending a national conference). If you do not hear from me within that time, please resend your question or comment as it may have been lost.



This is primarily a case-study and discussion class, although I may bring in an occasional guest or indulge in the occasional lecture. You are expected to do the reading assigned from the texts and be prepared to discuss them in class on the assigned date. There will also be in-class projects which will contribute to your grade. Attendance at all class meetings is presumed.

Written Assignments:

You will write an analysis (about 2 pages in length) of each of the three games we will play in class. The analysis will reflect on how the game relates to all the material we have been discussing to that point in the class.

You will also design and write your own “game” or “case study,” which will be posted to the entire class on D2L before the “Magister Ludi” date in the syllabus. We will play our favorite games (analyze our favorite cases) on the final exam date.


Each week, you must bring to the class a story or game or “case” that lends itself to the topics to be discussed in class that week. The scenario must be based on urban affairs, whether from the point of view of local government, the nonprofit sector, or the household or business sector as they relate to the community. By noon of the class day, you must post to the discussion site on D2L both the scenario for the story/game/case and the “Instructor’s Notes” which lays out the “points” that the scenario teaches/illustrates.


Grad Student Duties;

Grad students are expected to serve as “team leaders” for the three case studies and the final game. Those assignments are worth a higher proportion of their grade, and they will be expected to present their group’s findings to the rest of the class.

Course Expectations:

Attendance & Class Participation:

Students play an important role in educating and challenging each other. This can only happen if there is consistent attendance. I expect you to attend. I may take the class roll. Unexcused absence (prior notification is required—even if I am not available, my voice mail and e-mail always are) can result in loss of points toward one’s grade. You are paying for this class—make sure to get your “money’s worth.”  Most importantly, this is an excellent foundation of knowledge for future activities, and it is a chance for you to learn, teach, and grow with others.


Undergrad Grad

10 Scenarios (@ 5 pts.) 50 50

3 game reflections (@ 10 pts.) 30 45

1 Game design 20 30


The final grade may be based on a curve, but students can expect at least an A if they achieve 90%, a B with 80%, etc.

Other Matters:

Extra Credit: In general, I do not encourage extra credit in this class. I would rather that you put the extra effort into your regular assignments.

All assignments are due on the assigned date. Partial credit may be given for assignments that are less than one week late, unless other arrangements have been made in advance.

Written reports are expected to be free of grammatical, spelling, and content errors.  They should be submitted in typewritten, standard formats (APA, MLA, URSI Style Sheets). You must familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy. I encourage you to draw on the ideas of others—but you must also identify when you do so (you gain “brownie points” for citing the work of others!). Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic behavior and will result in an F for the course.

I will help you in whatever manner humanly possible.  However, once the semester is over, there is not a great deal I can do.  If there is something that you don’t understand, are having problems with, or need help on, please get in touch with me as early as possible.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.  If you area student with a documented disability, please contact us as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at 507-389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).





2009 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 1 January 2010