Purpose
The purpose of this assignment is to help you:

(a) understand how the public sector works;
(b) get in touch with the public servants and the public;
(c) practice your observation and interviewing skills; and
(d) demonstrate ability to creatively describe what you observed in the field.

Guidelines
This assignment requires you to conduct ONE of the following field research activities. Your field research paper for Option 1 or 2 or 3 should be a maximum of three double-spaced pages excluding the references and your typed field notes and/or interview questions (both of which are mandatory) and other supportive materials you may wish to include (e.g., photos, maps). Your write-up should be analytical, not simply a description of what you heard or what you saw. Furthermore, it should link your field research to the class readings or relevant scholarly books or articles on public administration.

OPTION 1: Attend a Public Meeting
Your first option is to attend a public meeting. Public meetings are initiated by the government and are open to anyone from the public. All public agencies hold these public meetings to discuss and decide on issues that matter in the public domain. Some examples to public meetings include the City/ County council meetings, Budget meetings, and Planning and Zoning meetings. You need to identify the public meeting you plan to attend (e.g., by checking the calendar of Miami Dade County) and confirm that the meeting will take place as scheduled. Some meetings end up being cancelled, so confirmation is a must.

Prior to attending the meeting, you should watch the following documentary on the observation method:

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces: William H. Whyte https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_-nBr2MuBk

While at the meeting, you should record what you see or hear (e.g., by taking notes, photos, videos or by preparing/collecting maps) and collect supplementary meeting related documents (e.g., agenda of the meeting).

In your paper, you should answer the following questions:

Where, when and by whom was the meeting held?
What were the issues discussed during the meeting?
How would you characterize the public servants who were at the meeting?
How would you characterize the public who were at the meeting?
How would you characterize the interaction between the public servants and the public at the meeting?
In what ways would you say this was a successful or not successful meeting?
Based on your participation in this public meeting, what do you think can be done to make public meetings more effective?

OPTION 2 – Conduct Observation at a Government Agency
Your second option is to conduct observation at a federal, state or local government agency that is open to the public (e.g., Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles).

Prior to your visit, you should conduct an online search on the agency and watch the following documentary on the observation method:
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces: William H. Whyte https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_-nBr2MuBk

While at the agency, you should record what you see or hear (e.g., by taking notes, photos, videos or by preparing/collecting maps) and collect supplementary materials related the agency (e.g., brochures, forms).

In your paper, you should answer the following questions:

What does this agency do?
How would you characterize the public servants who were at the agency?
How would you characterize the public who were at the agency?
How would you characterize the interaction between the public servants and the public at the agency?
In what ways would you say this agency is successful or not so successful in serving the public?
Based on your observation, how do you think this agency can better serve the public?

OPTION 3 – Conduct a Face-to-Face Interview
Your third option is to conduct an interview with a public servant from a local, state, or federal agency (ideally in a senior rank such as a Chief Administrative Officer [e.g. City Manager] or the Director of a unit [e.g. Public Works Director]) OR a community leader (e.g., the Director of a Community Based Agency).

Prior to your interview, you need to identify the person to interview, contact this person to schedule an interview, and develop an interview questionnaire.

In addition, prior to your interview, click on the following link to watch the video on interviewing
methods:

Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Methods: Interviews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PhcglOGFg8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

While conducting the interview, you should take notes and answer the following questions in your paper:

Why do public servants or community leaders do what they do?
What are the skills that are most useful on the job?
What are the main challenges and rewards of being a public servant or a community leader?
How do public public servants or community leaders overcome the challenges they face on the job?

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