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Per the course catalog: “Systematic analysis of the impact of public policies, including creation and effect of advocacy coalitions.” 

Per my vision: I hope you are in this class because you have an interest in and desire to learn how to do public policy analysis.  I also understand, however, that some of you may not.  This class will cover both the theoretical justifications for government intervention (commonly called public policy) as well as the practical “how to” aspects of performing analysis.  From this class you should gain an understanding of the basic process for formulating analysis as well as ways to find and gather data and information from a variety of sources.  It will also touch on analyzing the day-to-day operations of government, finding “best practice” solutions and program evaluation as part of a larger policy analysis. By the end of this course, you should be able to complete the following tasks that are the majority of a policy analyst’s job: 

Developing models to analyze policy that are supported both theoretically and empirically
Evaluating the distributional aspects of policies and programs incorporating political factors into policy analyses
Evaluating policies without bias, letting empirical evidence be the basis for judgment
Effectively communicating the results of policy analyses 

The world of public policy is a complex place, and the job of the policy analyst is to isolate important considerations in policy-making and assessment, and apply the concepts and tools of policy analysis to aid decision-makers by simplifying and articulating complex issues.

This course is intended to provide a set of concepts and tools to consider the design and development of public sector policies to aid in the understanding of public policies and making decisions about policies.  It also provides insight into the assessment of policies and the feasibility of policies, and it examines the perceived divisions between politics and policy administration.  Courses and textbooks on public policy analysis include a diverse range of methods and approaches to understanding the connections between the public interests, decision-makers, policy goals, policy design, policy implementation and policy assessment.  Some courses emphasize quantitative and statistical training in public policy analysis, while other focus on individual policy areas.  

This course will address both of these areas, but its primary purpose is to provide you the skills to define problems, and then analyze and present policy alternatives to decision-makers.  This course makes explicit the connection between disagreements over the public interest and the implementation and assessment of public policies.  The goals of policies, means to achieve goals and evaluation of the success or failure of the means to achieve the desired ends cannot be separated from the ideological beliefs and political assumptions of the political actors and even the assumptions of the professionals evaluating the policies.  However, the concepts and techniques introduced in this course will enable analysts to identify key considerations for everyone involved in the policy process, and present the most relevant considerations to decision-makers.  

The skills learned in this course can be applied to a wide range of public policy issues across a range of levels of dealing with politics.  This class and the concepts and tools provided in it will improve students’ abilities whether they become specialists in narrow policy fields, generalists across many fields, or simply desire to better understand public policies and their impact.  In addition to analyzing public policies and policy options, a professional analyst and researcher must be able to articulate their conclusions to decision-makers, stakeholders and the public.  This course also will hone students’ skills in communicating the most essential aspects of policy decisions and the analysis of their effects.