Higher Education

Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach, 3rd Edition

  • Joseph Stewart, Jr. Clemson University
  • David M. Hedge University of Florida
  • James P. Lester Late, University of Colorado
  • ISBN-10: 0534574947  |  ISBN-13: 9780534574949
  • 304 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2000, 1996
  • © 2008 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $175.50
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PUBLIC POLICY: AN EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH, 3e, examines how the substance and process of public policy and our understanding of that have evolved in America. After providing the reader with an analytic, historic and contextual framework for viewing public policy in the U.S., the authors offer a comprehensive look at the various elements of the governing process including agenda setting and problem definition, policy formation, implementation, program evaluation, and policy change and termination. In doing that the authors pay particular attention to the range of theories that have been offered to explain how, why, and with what effects governments act. The authors then look at three critical policy areas – environment, education, and welfare – to furher illustrate how governing proceeds in the U.S. Thoroughout the text the authors draw extensively on actual policy examples including recent efforts to reform education and welfare and the war in Iraq.

Features and Benefits

  • The text provides the most exhaustive discussion of the various approaches, theories and models that scholars and practitioners use to analyze public policies and the policy process of any policy text currently on the market (see, in particular, chapters 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 13) and how those models have changed in the last several decades.
  • Careful and thorough discussion of how the substance and process of public policy have evolved over both the long and short terms of American history.
  • Discussion questions at end of each chapter frequently challenge students to think about the material and apply it to the world in which they live.
  • Provides a balance between conservative and liberal approaches to public policy.
  • Extensive use of policy examples, both new and old, to illustrate key concepts.

Table of Contents

1. The Nature of Public Policy.
2. The Evolution of Public Policy and Politics in America.
3. Approaches to Public Analysis.
4. Models and Public Policy Studies.
5. Agenda Setting.
6. Policy Formulation.
7. Policy Implementation.
8. Policy Evaluation.
9. Policy Change and Termination.
10. Educational Policy.
11. Welfare Policy.
12. Environmental Policy.
13. Utilizing Policy Analysis.
14. Taking Stock: The Evolution of Public Policy in America.

What's New

  • Extensive reorganization of the opening (chapters one and two) and closing (chapter 14) chapters.
  • Addition of recent policy examples to illustrate important concepts including the war in Iraq, FEMA and hurricane Katrina, immigration, and global warming.
  • Substantive policy examples have been fully updated to include the most recent policy developments and the available evidence concerning the impact of those policies.
  • Added an additional section on the critical issues for government in chapter two and the closing chapter to help organize discussions of the American political context and changes in the policy process.
  • Inclusion of additional theories of decision making and policy change including groupthink, the garbage can model of decision making, and the punctuated-equilibrium model of policy change.

Efficacy and Outcomes


"The feedback I get from students has always been very positive for this text. It is an approach that public administration students and professionals are often very comfortable with."

— Robert Blair, Associate Professor of Public Administration, University of Nebraska Omaha

"The Lester and Stewart text provides an excellent overview of the policy process giving public administrators a balanced and detailed perspective of their special roles and responsibilities."

— Robert Blair, Associate Professor of Public Administration, University of Nebraska Omaha

"Three strengths of the text: Excellent overview of the policy process, including a good discussion of policy learning and change; very good examples of several policy domains, and an excellent introduction to policy science."

— Robert Blair, Associate Professor of Public Administration, University of Nebraska Omaha

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Joseph Stewart, Jr.

Joseph Stewart, Jr. has held teaching or research positions at the University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Dallas, West Virginia University, University of New Orleans, Rice University, and Wichita State University. His research interest spans civil rights policies; racial and ethnic politics; public policy; and educational policy. His work has appeared in a variety of political science, education, public policy, public administration, public law, and interdisciplinary journals. Three of his books — RACE, CLASS, AND EDUCATION (with Ken Meier and Robert England, 1989), THE POLITICS OF HISPANIC EDUCATION (with Ken Meier, 1991), and CAN WE ALL GET ALONG? RACIAL AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN AMERICAN POLITICS (with Paula McClain, 4th ed., 2006) — have received Myers Awards as "Outstanding Books on the Subject of Human Rights in the United States". Stewart serves on the editorial board of the University Press of Virginia's "Race, Ethnicity and Politics" series and is co-editor of Rowman & Littlefield's "Spectrum" series. Stewart was president of the Southwestern Political Science Association and Southwestern Social Science Association, and currently is vice-president elect of the Southern Political Science Association.

David M. Hedge

David M. Hedge is a professor of political science at the University of Florida, where he also serves as the academic program director at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. His research and teaching interests include state politics and policy, bureaucratic politics, and legislative behavior. He has published extensively on regulatory politics, intergovernmental relations, and state legislative politics. Hedge is the author or coauthor of State and Local Government in a Changing Society (with Richard Bingham, McGraw-Hill, 1991) and Governance and the Changing American States (Westview Press, 1998). He serves as the secretary/treasurer of the American Political Science Association's Organized Section on Public Policy and sits on the editorial boards of the Policy Studies Journal. His current research includes an examination of the impact of social capital on welfare policy and a study of member state compliance with European Union environmental standards.