Fall 2022 - 61050 - PA 397 - Introduction to Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Introduction to Empirical Methods

Scope and Objectives IEM covers a wide range of quantitative reasoning processes pertinent to policy analysis and management. This section of IEM is taught with differential calculus—no need to know integral calculus at all. The expected calculus proficiency will be described on Canvas as part of the Summer Transition Program for entering students. The primary emphasis of this section is to foster analytic thinking and communication skills through rigorous conceptual reasoning in the context of policy decision-making. The mathematical and statistical techniques acquired through this thinking and communication learning process constitute a secondary objective—they are beneficial side-products, not the main feature. Students who define quantitative skills as “knowing software for number crunching” will likely be disappointed in this section. Structure of Content This course is organized into five broad topics: • Developing perspectives on the role of quantitative analysis in democratic politics • Modeling policy choices through constrained optimization • Making decisions in environments of uncertainty and risk • Guessing truth with bivariate statistical design • Modeling reality with multivariate regression models Learning Experiences The learning process in this course is not driven by the use of software. Instead, all materials are based on axiomatic derivations, conceptual reasoning, and applications of models to current events and practical problems. In addition to classroom and Canvas discourses, members of this class are asked to develop a daily news-reading habit and complete the following: • Problem sets involving group problem-solving about once every four weeks or so • Individual-based & time-limited problem-solving twice in the semester • Final assessment in the form of oral interview Expectation Abstention from long-hand note-taking in class is requested. In exchange the instructor will provide notes after each weekly class session.

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