This section of 510 aims to help you better understand policy analysis and the political environment within a context of American domestic politics at the national level. Policy analysis is a discipline that brings systematic thinking and social scientific evidence to bear on substantive problems. The premise of this course is that policymakers seldom value that analysis as much as we do. Many are skeptical about what social science can contribute to solving public problems, often rightly so. Others see policy analysis as material to be deployed selectively and strategically in political battles fought on other terms. In today's highly partisan, often hyperbolic politics, bringing reason and evidence to bear on public problems is more challenging than ever. By the end of the course, you will understand the political environment in which policy specialists operate: the participants who shape policy within particular domains; the ways in which they perceive problems and solutions; the information, interests, and ideologies likely to govern their actions; the strategies they use; and the institutional arrangements and processes that shape their behavior and constrain their decisions. A final but important purpose of the course is to help you work on your writing and, to a lesser extent, your oral communication skills.