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Fall 2010 - 61050 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Science & Technology Policy

Instructor(s): Callan, Benedicte
Unique Number: 61050
Day & Time: M 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.216/219
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description
S&T policy has two purposes: it is a tool for economic development and a means to achieve social goals. All advanced industrial countries want to build “knowledge based economies” and be home to competitive, technology intensive industries that provide innovative solutions to our social challenges.  But how do governments actually go about promoting research and development and encouraging the commercialization of innovative products and services? What are the public policy challenges, trade-offs and conflicts related to science and technology policy making?
This course focuses on the design and analysis of public policies intended to influence rate and direction of technological change in societies, and use of scientific and technical knowledge in public policy making. Cases will be taken from technologies important to the "new economy" such as biomedicine, telecommunications and computing, green technologies and nanotech.
Because most students of Public Affairs do not have a background in science, the course will review how science and technology is funded and performed; how knowledge is created and disseminated; and how firms access and translate knowledge into commercial innovations. But the focus of the course will be primarily on the role of governments in creating a domestic and international environment that encourages scientific discovery, networking, technology transfer and commercialization. It will discuss the link between investment in science and technology and economic development and growth; it will also review what social goals motivate research, for example health promotion; the assurance of food, water or energy security; the protection of the environment; transporation safety and efficacy; etc.
Major questions the class will address are: What are the reasons governments get involved in S&T promotion? What problems do they try to address? How are those problems articulated and agreed upon? What are the range of tools available to influence the type and level of investments in S&T? Are polices and approaches coordinated across government? How is public sector, philanthropic and private sector research aligned or coordinated? When is there an argument or need for international coordination? How does one measure the success of policies?
Students will be asked to write 3 short (1-2 page) memos on assigned topics, to write and present a speech related to a current scientific or technologic policy debate; and to write a policy brief for the final.