Insegnamento a.a. 2017-2018



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

In the second module of “Institutions, Government and Society” students have the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of some major traditions in the social science through the choice of two blocks. Students can choose between this course and Institutions, Government and Society (IIB).

Course Content Summary

First Block - Public Policy and Administration (Amelia Compagni).
The module “Public Policy and Administration” aims at familiarizing students with different models of organizing the State and, in particular, its public administration. It discusses how different disciplines and theoretical perspectives have conceptualized the State and the instruments that should be put in place to make it work for the collective good. The lectures are situated in the context of the current debate, at domestic and international level, of how we can organize at best the State and its public service.
In the second part the course deals with one of the main functions of the State: the generation of public policies. The lectures explore how we understand the process of decision-making and of the creation of public policies. It draws from models of bounded rationality and incrementalism, reaching out to the most recent developments in behavioural public policy, informed by studies in psychology.
The module entails both traditional lectures as well as class discussions about relevant case studies and examples taken from current affairs. It also involves a structured class discussion of a scholarly paper, class associated with a graded take-home assignment.

Second Block - History of Economic Thought (Luca Fantacci).
This module aims at putting economic theory in historical perspective, by showing the variety of approaches and interpretative frameworks through which different authors have addressed major economic issues: the functioning of the market, its liaison dangereuse with the State, the distinctive features of the capitalist system, the persistent recurrence of crises, the conflictual relation between enterprise and work, the elusive relation between finance and business.
The course builds on a direct confrontation with selected texts of major economists, with the purpose of highlighting the explicit and implicit assumptions characterizing their peculiar approach. Preliminary reading of the texts and active discussion in class is strongly encouraged.
The attention is necessarily focused on a limited number of authors, whose contributions represent significant turning points in the history of economic ideas:
- Adam Smith, the theory of moral sentiments and the wealth of nations
- David Ricardo, the principles of political economy
- Thomas Robert Malthus, the paradox of thrift and the crisis of overproduction
- Karl Marx, the intrinsically revolutionary character of capital accumulation
- John Maynard Keynes, poverty in plenty and the need for monetary reform
- Friedrich August von Hayek, the road to serfdom and the denationalization of money

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

For both blocks the assessment and final grade is based on a written exam.

For attending students
The evaluation is based on a written exam with open questions about the topics encountered during the course (80%) and an individual take-home assignment about a scholarly article that is then discussed in class (20%).

For non attending students
Written exam.

Written exam for both attending and non attending students.


Reading material are made available at the beginning of the course.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


Last change 23/03/2017 10:40