African American Culture and Heritage in Higher Education Research and Practice

By Kassie Freeman | Go to book overview

11
Policy, Practice, and Performance: Strategies to Foster the Meaningful Involvement of African Americans in Higher Education Decision-Making Processes

Wynetta Y Lee

A case could be made that policy has been a part of the civilized world since the introduction of the Ten Commandments in biblical times. However, "policy" is a rather nebulous concept that often leaves scholars grasping at the essence of its meaning. Thoughts of policy might first draw images of powerful government officials' making laws that govern the lives of all citizens within their jurisdiction. Those oriented to the private sector might associate policy with the collage of powerful and affluent personalities who lead giant corporations. Other images might involve the purpose of policy and discern the concept as being a means of minimizing chaos by setting a standard for accepted behavior.

Students of public policy grapple with understanding what policy is, since literature on the subject presents it as both a noun (the manifestation of a decision) and a verb (repeated actions taken over time) ( Anderson, 1975; Jones, 1984). For purposes on this discussion, definitions are offered by making a distinction between policy and the policy process. Policy is seen as the articulation of decisions made to systematically address a specific problem. Moreover, these decisions are applied consistently. The policy process, then, is the series of decisions regarding the actions taken to move decisions from mere articulation to a tangible reality. Figure 11.1 presents the policy process as three domains of decisions to be made to address a specific problem. The three decision domains include (1) decisions on what to do (development), (2) decisions on how to do it (implementation) and (3) decisions on how to assess outcomes (evaluation/assessment) ( Anderson, 1975; Jones, 1984; Nakamura & Smallwood, 1980; Stokey & Zeckhauser, 1978). Although the decisions to be made are distinct, they tend to overlap, suggesting that the process is tightly interconnected. Thus, decisions made in each domain have an impact in each of the remaining domains of the policy process.

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