Spring 2017 - 61300 - PA188G - Topics in Global Policy Studies
The Art of Strategy: Planning for the Future in an Age of Uncertainty
This class meets January 20 through February 17.
This short course will expose students to the discipline and art of strategic thinking, employing lessons from diplomacy, military operations, and business. We will explore techniques such as decision trees, game theory, and scenarios, as well as ways of preparing for “predictable surprises,” discontinuities, and “wild card” events. We will focus particularly on scenario analysis and scenario planning, for which there is a good, non-technical literature to guide us. Students will make one formal oral presentation in class, with two or more students reporting on an assigned set of readings, so that the whole class can be exposed to the widest possible array of source material within the time constraints of a five-week course.
For the main assignment, students will prepare a strategy document in the form of a scenarios paper about a country or issue area (e.g., “Brazil 2030,” “Global Energy Futures: Three Scenarios,” or “Dry, the Beloved Country: Water Resources in Texas, 2017-2037”). Papers should be between 3,000 and 4,000 words, single-spaced and appropriately sourced. The purpose of the assignment is to expose you to the discipline of scenario analysis – in which you explore at least three distinct scenarios and their implications. There is good general background to scenario analysis on the “Useful Links” sites on the syllabus as well as in the readings for weeks one and four.
Grades will be weighted roughly as follows: 25% for the oral presentation and accompanying memo, 25% for overall contributions to seminar discussions, and 50% for the scenarios report.