Mona Vakilifathi

Assistant Professor of Public Service

Mona Vakilifathi

Mona Vakilifathi is an Assistant Professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Mona's research interests include U.S. state politics, lawmaking, and charter schools. Her research connects the effect of politics in the statehouse to K-12 education outcomes by the degree of policy discretion state politicians grant to the bureaucracy. She has worked at the Center for Education Policy Analysis and Policy Analysis for California Education at Stanford University. In addition, Mona has worked as a consultant and a fellow for the San Diego Unified School District, the New Jersey State Department of Education, the New York City Department of Education, and the California Assembly Committee on Education.

Mona received her Ph.D. and Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.

Introduction to Public Policy covers a wide range of topics, from the norms and values informing democratic policymaking to the basics of cost-benefit and other tools of policy analysis. Though emphases will differ based on instructor strengths, all sections will address the institutional arrangements for making public policy decisions, the role of various actors-including nonprofit and private-sector professionals-in shaping policy outcomes, and the fundamentals (and limits) of analytic approaches to public policy.

Note: Students who have not taken an American Government course, or have not taken the course in many years, are strongly encouraged to brush up on knowledge of the basic design and functions of the governmental units in the United States.

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The purpose of the course is to deepen students’ understanding of the way in which public policy and political realities interact in American government at the national, state, and local levels: how political pressures limit policy choices, how policy choices in turn reshape politics, and how policymakers can function in the interplay of competing forces. The theme explored is how public officials balance concerns for substantive policy objectives, institutional politics and elective politics in order to achieve change. The nature of key legislative and executive institutional objectives and roles is examined. In addition, attention is given to the role of policy analysis and analysts in shaping policy decisions, seeking to identify their potential for positive impact and their limitations in the political process.

A second goal of the course is to sharpen students’ ability to think and write like professional policy analysts. Students will be asked to apply both policy analysis framework and political perspective to the issues under discussion.

Download Syllabus

The purpose of the course is to deepen students’ understanding of the way in which public policy and political realities interact in American government at the national, state, and local levels: how political pressures limit policy choices, how policy choices in turn reshape politics, and how policymakers can function in the interplay of competing forces. The theme explored is how public officials balance concerns for substantive policy objectives, institutional politics and elective politics in order to achieve change. The nature of key legislative and executive institutional objectives and roles is examined. In addition, attention is given to the role of policy analysis and analysts in shaping policy decisions, seeking to identify their potential for positive impact and their limitations in the political process.

A second goal of the course is to sharpen students’ ability to think and write like professional policy analysts. Students will be asked to apply both policy analysis framework and political perspective to the issues under discussion.

Download Syllabus

This course introduces students to basic statistical methods and their application to management, policy, and financial decision-making. The course covers the essential elements of descriptive statistics, univariate and bivariate statistical inference, and introduces multivariate analysis. In addition to covering statistical theory the course emphasizes applied statistics and data analysis, using the software package, SPSS.

The course has several "audiences" and goals. For all Wagner students, the course develops basic skills and encourages a critical approach to reviewing statistical findings and using statistical reasoning in decision making. For those planning to continue studying statistics (often those in policy and finance concentrations) this course additionally provides the foundation for that further work.

Download Syllabus

The purpose of the course is to deepen students’ understanding of the way in which public policy and political realities interact in American government at the national, state, and local levels: how political pressures limit policy choices, how policy choices in turn reshape politics, and how policymakers can function in the interplay of competing forces. The theme explored is how public officials balance concerns for substantive policy objectives, institutional politics and elective politics in order to achieve change. The nature of key legislative and executive institutional objectives and roles is examined. In addition, attention is given to the role of policy analysis and analysts in shaping policy decisions, seeking to identify their potential for positive impact and their limitations in the political process.

A second goal of the course is to sharpen students’ ability to think and write like professional policy analysts. Students will be asked to apply both policy analysis framework and political perspective to the issues under discussion.

Download Syllabus

2017

Abstract

Do finite time horizons constrain a legislature's ability to control the bureaucracy? I argue that legislators subject to legislative term limits enact legislation with less statutory discretion today to ensure that their preferences are implemented by the bureaucracy tomorrow since most legislators will not be around to monitor the bureaucracy over the long term. Although past works suggest that legislative term limits decrease legislatures' rate of bureaucratic oversight, I find that term-limited legislatures use ex ante means of bureaucratic control to a greater extent by granting less statutory discretion to the bureaucracy.