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Thinking Like a Policy Analyst: Introduction to Policy Analysis

2 units. MP. Autumn, Winter quarters
Paul Brest and Deborah Hensler, Luciana Herman

This limited-enrollment seminar is designed primarily for students working on Policy Lab practicums, but will be open to other students as well subject to there being space. It will be offered both the Autumn and Winter quarters during 2013-14, with any individual student eligible to enroll only in one quarter. Students whose practicums begin in the Autumn quarter should endeavor to enroll for that quarter.

The seminar has three purposes. First, it surveys skills and bodies of knowledge useful for a variety of work and career in policy analysis with the goal of introducing students to the perspective of a policy analyst, which differs in some significant ways from that of a lawyer. These include framing problems, designing and evaluating strategies, cost-benefit analysis, decision making under uncertainty, decision heuristics and biases, and methods for influencing people’s behavior ranging from incentives and penalties to “nudges.” Second, it introduces students to communicating with policy makers orally and in writing. In addition to class sessions on the subject, Ms. Herman will be available to consult with individual students. Third, we will devote a portion of the seminar to “grand rounds,” in which students engaged in various Policy Lab practicums will discuss policy issues encountered in their work for mutual learning.

Students participating in Policy Lab practicums and who are interested in taking the seminar should fill out the Thinking Like a Policy Analyst consent form available on SLS Registrar's Office website. Priority will be given to students enrolled in practicums.