There is no profession more noble than public service, and no arena more exciting than New York. Our objective is to gain insight into how our city and state governments make decisions, informed by a foundational and wide-ranging understanding of the forces at work and issues that face policymakers today. I am teaching this class because of my longstanding—and ever-expanding—interest in the practice of public policy and a deeply held belief that the effectiveness of our government depends on the quality of those who serve in it. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the structures of New York City and State government and the recent historical and political context in which they operate. This background will be used in the second half of the semester to explore a range of public policy debates in areas such as economic development, transportation and infrastructure, public education, public safety and housing and homelessness. Emphasis throughout will be placed on the practicalities of decision-making and the messy, politicized and conflict-rich environment in which public policy is hammered out. We will be joined by a number of guest speakers from the worlds of journalism, government, business and advocacy.