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PADM 3601 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PADM 3601 - Public Administration

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

Public Administration (PA) is a diverse and interdisciplinary academic field, and an extremely challenging profession by nature.  PA draws upon knowledge from diverse areas of study and many professional backgrounds.  In reality, “public administrators” include soldiers, Congressional staffers, FBI agents, social workers, DMV clerks, teachers and sanitation workers.  Despite the diversity of duties, all public administrators have one major characteristic in common – to serve the public interest.  As the role of public administration and public administrators is discussed, keep the common goal in mind as it may aid in understanding how the diverse topics are related.

Course Outcomes:

If, at the conclusion of this course, you and I have done our jobs, you will have succeeded in understanding the following:

  • A familiarity with how policy becomes reality;
  • The history of public administration as a field;
  • How public organizations hire, fire, and manage employees;
  • The tension between the responsibilities and powers of the typical public servant;
  • The process for and problems of spending public money to promote the public interest;
  • The contemporary debate about what the government should do for us and what we owe the government;
  • How the different levels of government interact with each other;
  • The theory and techniques of using information technology effectively.
  • The ethics of public service. 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

A course in American Government is recommended.

Course Topics:
  • Familiarize yourself with the general course layout on-line. Investigate the course homepage and the various modules. Focus on "Getting Started" and the Syllabus "Overview" during the first week.
  • Each week I will check in. Generally, this will include a reminder about the reading, activities, and discussion board requirements. If there is an assignment or quiz that week, I will note those as well. Typically, I will communicate via a class email and a news announcement on the course home page. You should also review the course calendar on a regular basis to make sure you understand when your assignments are due.
  • Weekly discussions and activities make up your class participation grade. These activities are equivalent to the discussions and activities we would have during a traditional class. Just like an absence, there is no way to "make-up" missed participation.
  • Ensure you complete all weekly assignments, writing assignments and quizzes on time. Once again, use the course calendar tool to help you monitor due dates. Late submissions are not accepted per the syllabus guidelines.
  • The layout of the course includes these major components:
    • Course Content: Here you will find all of the basic information you need to know. In addition to a detailed syllabus, you will find links to my contact information, class policies, and helpful resources. The syllabus is broken into five major modules including course information and four content modules.
      • Each module consists of sub modules dealing with a major public administration topic. Within each sub module, you will find vital information to understanding the subject and keeping up with the course. The weekly assignments will include the chapter reading requirements, discussion board questions, and weekly activity. The instructor will provide a chapter summary at the end of each week.
    • Discussions: This includes all weekly discussion questions and activities. Note that generally you will have no activities schedule during weeks an assignment is due. However, you still need to participate in the class discussions. In this section you will also find our general icebreaker discussion and a forum for general questions. Over the course of a semester, many informal discussions also pop up.
    • Quizzes: When a quiz or exam is active, you will find a link to it here. Details on these assessments are in the syllabus, but be sure to familiarize yourself with how this works so that you don't run into trouble 5 minutes before your first quiz is do. By that time, there won't be much I can do to help.
    • Dropbox: All of your written assignments (except for the online blog post) will be uploaded here. They will be active up until the deadline. You can submit drafts and revisions here at any time (just let me know if you do), and I will provide feedback. Your graded copy will be posted here with my comments as well.
    • Grades: All the assignments and exams will show results to you here. I will also periodically update your participation grade as well. You can use this section to get a good idea of how you are doing in the class. Just remember to divide the possible total from only assignments you have completed, not the course total.
    • Email: The primary means of communication. I check this at least once a day. Try to give me 24 hours before you start to worry. If it is urgent, email my University of Memphis email, call or IM me.
    • Calendar: Every due date and discussion deadline is posted here. Check it frequently. Just remember, that it does not determine when a dropbox, discussion, or quiz is locked. You need to check them in person to verify that. Generally, it is always at 11:59pm on the date due.
  • Be sure to contact me if there are any questions concerning any facet of the course. 
Specific Course Requirements:

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

Additional selected readings that add something to the class discourse will also be made available each week. While some are already selected, others may change based on current events or the interests of the class. It is critical that you keep up with the readings. They drive the discussions we will have in class, the assignments you will be given, and ultimately the grade you receive. 

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

In this course, all assessment and assignments are submitted online. I allow the use of notes and books for these exams. The questions I ask and answers I expect reflect that you have those
resources available.

You should make sure your browser is working correctly. While assessments are timed, you can also pause and return to them. You should do so and contact me immediately if you experience any problems. I can work with you to resolve the issue before work is due. However, I will not allow technology issues as an excuse after the fact. 

Grading Procedures:

The grading scale below reflects your level of achievement on each assignment.

For quizzes and your final, an "A" reflects exceptional knowledge and/or clear understanding of an issue. A "B" is based on above average knowledge and basic understanding of the issue. A "C" means you have sufficient knowledge, but likely an incomplete understanding. A "D" or "F" indicates you lack knowledge and understanding of the issue.

Written assignments also follow those standards, but have additional specific requirements. They will be graded primarily on the relevance of your content and the logic of any argument you may make. However, good writing makes it much easier for me to assess those two things. Grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and organization can help or hurt you. If you are a worried about your writing, I am happy discuss it with you. RODP also provides assistance through RODP Student Services.

Written assignments should be typed using a legible 12 point font and 1.5 line spacing. References and citations should be presented in the American Psychological Association (APA) style, which is the preferred format for the Division of Public and Nonprofit Administration at the University of Memphis. (You can find some information about this format at

Another great resource for academic writing is available from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University: 

Assignments must be electronically submitted using the Dropbox. Files should be in either Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) or Rich-Text Format (.rtf) files. Both Microsoft Works and WordPerfect (or anyone else) will let you save in that second format. Grades and comments will also be posted via Dropbox. In the case of a snafu or other rare occurrence, I will accept an email, but only if you speak with me in advance. It is not the acceptable norm. 

Grading Scale:
60 and belowF
Assignments and Projects:

The following assignments make up the bulk of your assessment for the course: 

AssignmentPercentage of Total Grade
Activities and Discussions20%
Blog Post10%
Case Study10%
Quizzes (2)20%
Problem Statement10%
Issue Paper15%
Total 100%

Blog Post 

A Web log or “Blog” is the virtual editorial page of the 21st century. It is a source of opinion writing associated with a variety of topics. Bloggers often craft a very distinctive style and voice, and they articulate a specific point of view. It relies on both facts and opinion. Since people can also comment on posts, blogs also serve as a community forum for various public issues. For this assignment, you should first blog about some current “controversy” affecting local, state, or federal government. A blog site will be provided. You should chose a topic that you can adequately describe and briefly analyze in a lengthy blog post (about 700 to 800 words). When blogging, you should keep in mind this is a public forum to meaningfully discuss sensitive issues. Online doesn’t mean it should read like a text message. Write keeping in mind the importance of the issue, the audience, tone, and quality of content. Your piece can be argumentative, descriptive, narrative, reflective, analytical, or satirical but should also be based in some agreed upon facts. Feel free to include links about the issue at other reputable sites. Finally, a blog is also meant to serve as a discussion. Therefore the second component of your assignment will be to read and comment on your classmates’ posts. Respond and comment to at least two of your classmates. The grade is based on how well you communicate your purpose and opinion and critiques others. It must include a clear theme or thesis statement, evidence to support it, and a conclusion.

Case Study

You will discuss and respond to a case study I provide. A case study provides the chance to apply what we have learned to real world events. It is also a common means of evaluation and review in government. The case study is to be typed, 1.5 spaced, in a legible font, and at least 1,000 words in length (not to exceed 1,500). I will provide additional information and guidelines well before the case is due.

Problem Statement and Issue Paper

This is a two part assignment that continues a theme around an issue through problem identification and critical analysis. See the Calendar for due dates for the two assignments and expect further instructions from me.

In order for governance to be effective, both citizens and public administrators must communicate in a clear and succinct manner. Very often, time is the most important consideration; therefore, the ability to state a problem clearly and quickly is essential. The challenge of this assignment is to identify a problem and structure it as an issue requiring a decision.

The first part of this assignment, is to prepare a problem statement that clearly identifies the problem, at least three possible solutions to the problem, and a recommended solution. Ideally this should be done in 500 words or less. This limit is intended to force you to clearly define and articulate a problem and present it in a concise format conducive to immediate review. This is not an easy task.

The second component of the assignment, Writing Assignment 2B, is to take the problem statement and convert it into a paper which explores the problem further. This issue paper is to be seven to ten pages in length and will include a brief, one paragraph abstract of the paper, the problem statement already prepared, an expanded introduction and background on the issue, the primary actors involved and their positions on the issue, discussions on the possible -solutions or resolution and recommendations regarding a solution. In essence, the issue paper is an expansion of the problem introduced in the problem statement paper.

Quizzes and Exam

There will be a mini-quiz as a part of your orientation to the course. There will also be two additional quizzes during the semester as well as a final comprehensive exam. All quizzes and exams will
be comprised of short answer and essay questions. Quizzes will be posted on a Friday and the expectation is that your will complete them by the following Tuesday. Due dates are noted in the syllabus and posted on the Calendar. 

Class Participation:


Activities will vary from week to week based on the topic being covered. Generally, they will require you to do a bit of independent research and then briefly describe it in the Discussion section. Read the specific guidelines each week. There will not be activities during weeks in which there are also assignments due.

Discussions Questions

Discussion questions require a little bit more planning and detail. Each week, I will ask a specific question. I expect a thoughtful, organized response. It does not have to be a novel, but should consist of a paragraph or two. Remember, this is supposed to be an academic discussion, not texting. I expect proper sentences and punctuations. Web browsers and the RODP software have great spell checks these days, so that counts as well. 

Late Policy:

NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED.Assignments are due by midnight of the date given in the calendar. Anyone not submitting a paper at that time will receive a zero. If you have problems meeting a deadline, you must speak with me well in advance. I am also happy to provide feedback on all drafts of an assignment up to a few days in advance of the due date. In both cases, “in advance” should not be the day before the assignment is due. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 12, 2021