This course, a requirement for all students pursuing the Master of Global Policy Studies degree, offers a look at the making and implementation of policy. It explores the constraints, dilemmas and opportunities faced by decision-makers from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint. The course aims to help students not only to analyze but also to implement policy, obliging them to react as a policy-maker would and thus gain a better appreciation of how and why leaders of states, international organizations, or NGOs act as they do.
We begin by laying the intellectual and theoretical foundations for understanding policy-makers and their decisions. We explore how decision-makers’ worldviews are colored by their personal experiences and cultural filters. We then turn to how institutional structures such as bureaucracies, special interests like lobbies, and the media and public opinion constrain available choices. And we take a look at the specific challenges that international policy-makers face in negotiations and in cross-cultural communication.
In the second part of the course, we explore some of the ways in which our current “global age” has added extra complexity to policy-making. We focus in particular on the emergence of transnational policy networks and epistemic communities, which influence policy-making across state borders, and on the ways in which different levels of policy-making (local, state, and especially national and global) intersect in many policy areas of multi-level governance, blurring the traditional line between domestic and foreign policy-making.
Throughout the course, we will apply these concepts to investigate specific cases of policy-making. This will help us glean lessons to elucidate today’s major policy dilemmas. The course ends with a series of student presentations on their own research projects on a particular case of policy-making, giving you a chance to apply what you have learned to a real historical example.
The course is run as a seminar. The reading load is 150-200 pages per week, all readings are posted to Canvas—there are no books to purchase. Grading is based on three policy memos (15% each), a final research paper (25%), a presentation of the final paper (10%), and class participation (20%).