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12/11/17
Brandeis University
Heller Graduate School
Social Policy Analysis: Technique and Application HS532b
Michael Doonan, Ph.D. [email protected]
TA: Christian Lopez, [email protected]
Spring, 2018
Monday
2:00 – 4:50 pm
Schneider Room G1
Purpose and goals:
From this course, you will understand what policy analysis is, who does it, where and how. You
will understand the history of the field, theoretical frameworks and the required tools, skills and
traits to conduct and evaluate policy analysis studies. You will be able to critique studies, think
more analytically, apply criteria for assessing policy and communicate more effectively.
We begin with an overview of the stages of policy process including policy formulation,
rulemaking and implementation. We define policy analysis and make distinctions with policy
research and policymaking. We explore the history, theoretical framework and imbedded
assumptions of policy analysis. We examine criteria for evaluating policy options including
efficiency, equity, security and liberty. A survey of techniques includes cost benefit analysis,
cost effectiveness analysis, risk analysis, decision analysis, meta-analysis, and case study
method. We explore ethics and the role of values in shaping analysis. Practitioners and an alumni
panel will provide examples or real world policy analysis. Students will have the opportunity to
write and present a detailed proposal for doing a policy analysis project.
Organization:
The course is divided into four sections. Section 1 defines policy analysis and places it in
historical context. Section 2 describes techniques for doing policy analysis and explores
theoretical frameworks for conducting this analysis. Section 3 places policy analysis in a real
world context using contemporary issues and insight from guest speakers who have used analysis
to shape policy. Section 4 provides a chance for students to demonstrate the techniques and
skills gained in earlier sections.
Requirements:
The course is taught in seminar format and preparation and participation are essential. Three
papers, six blog entries, and active class participation are required.
There are three required blog topics, as noted in the syllabus (classes 2, 5, and 12). There are
seven other blog topics presented on a weekly basis in the syllabus. Pick three of those to write
about. Identify your audience and use an appropriate tone and language. Be well organized,
interesting, engaging, succinct, and creative. Include links and visuals (graphs, charts, pictures)
when appropriate. Use relatively short paragraphs but with complete thoughts. Shoot for around
500 words; a bit more or less is fine as long as you are interesting and compelling.
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The first paper is an opinion editorial piece between 650 and 750 words. The goal will be to
develop a concise and cogent argument using policy analysis. Draft due 2/1; critique of a
colleague’s paper due 2/15; and the final version due 2/20.
The second paper is a memo to a senior policy official critiquing a cost benefit or cost
effectiveness study. Due March 27.
The final paper will be a proposal to do a policy analysis project and paper. The assignment is
based on an actual proposal for a social policy related analysis issued by the state of Michigan.
You will make a 7-minute pitch for funding your proposal in-class on 4/16 or 4/23. Final paper is
due Friday April 27th.
Course Requirements & Grading:
1. Active class participation and blog entries (20% of grade)
2. 1st paper, Op-ed (only final version will be graded, 25% of grade)
3. 2nd paper (25% of grade)
4. Final policy analysis paper and presentation (30% of grade)
5. Rubrics will be provided for the assessment of all work
I Pledge:
 To make Heller a safe and welcoming place for all people.
 To be aware of my own biases against people who are different from me, and to hold
myself accountable for my actions and words, even if it is uncomfortable.
 To engage in respectful dialogue and language that is responsible and sensitive to the
opinions of others and free of rancor and attack, in and outside the classroom.
 To intentionally and consistently act to address societal inequity and injustice in the
broader community.
 Ultimately, I pledge to work for a world in which everyone is free to be who they are and
can lead fulfilling lives, without having to overcome discrimination.
Academic Integrity: Violations of University policies on academic integrity, described in
Section 3 of Rights and Responsibilities, may result in failure in the course or on the assignment,
and could end in suspension from the University. If you are in doubt about the instructions for
any assignment in this course, you must ask for clarification.
Notice: If you have a documented disability and require any accommodations, please bring
them to my attention prior to the second meeting of the class. If you have any questions about
learning or other disabilities, contact the disabilities coordinator for The Heller School, at
x62773, room 125.
Texts:
Beryl A. Radin, (2013) Beyond Machiavelli, Policy Analysis Comes of Age, Georgetown
University Press.
Deborah Stone, (2012). Policy Paradox, The Art of Political Decision Making. Harper Collins.
David Weimer & Aidan Vining. (1992). Policy Analysis, Concepts and Practice, 2nd ed. Prentice
Hall.
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Peter House and Roger Shull. (1988). Rush to Policy, Using Analytical Techniques in Public
Sector Decision Making, Transaction Books. (Out of print. Required chapters available on
Latte)
Section I: Policy Analysis Defined
Class 1: Thursday, January 18 (Brandeis Monday), Policy Analysis and Its Place in the
Policy Process
An overview of the class is followed by an examination of the policy process from policy
development through implementation. Critical decision points are identified. With this
background, the primary focus is on defining policy analysis and its role in the policy process.
What is policy analysis? How does it influence and shape policy? What is the difference
between policy analysis and policy research?
Readings:
Radin, Introduction, Chapter 1 through 4
Class 2: January 22, Policy Analysis History and Background
The focus is on the historical roots of policy analysis in the 1960s and 1970s. What are the goals
and objectives of policy analysis? How did it evolve and what is its role in shaping policy?
What are the steps in doing a policy analysis? Who does policy analysis? How is it used? What
role do values play in policy analysis? Part of the class will be devoted to the first assignment
using argument in op eds.
Readings:
Radin, Chapter 5 through 8
Weimer and Vining, Chapter 2: What is Policy Analysis?
House and Shull Chapters 1, Introduction, and Chapter 2, Quantitative Techniques
Required Blog Entry: Write about the skills you have which will make you an effective policy analyst and the skills
you need to work on to achieve your career goals. (Personal diary tone)
Class 3: January 29, Conceptual Framework of Policy Analysis
Most policy analyses are conducted based on rational public choice theory and the principles of
scarcity and efficiency (maximizing outputs based on a given input). This class will discuss the
steps in the rational model and the assumptions and values embedded in this model. We will
evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of operating within this paradigm. This class will
include a broader discussion of values under the market and the polis, and a wider range of
policy goals and objectives.
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Readings:
Stone, Introduction and Chapters 1 – 6.
Weimer and Vining Chapter 5, Rationales for Public Policy: Market Failures, Chapter 7,
Rationales for Public Policy: Rationales for Public Policy: Distributional and other Goals.
Additional Readings: House and Shull, Chapter 6 Practicability, Relevance, and Compatibility of
Quantitative Decision Models and 7, Constitutional and Bureaucratic Framework.
Blog entry: Find an article from a periodical or newspaper and demonstrate how they use analogy and numbers to
make a claim for a particular construction of reality. What alternative representation of the numbers or alternative
analogy could be used to tell an alternative story of a different reality? (Smart policy audience)
Op Ed draft due upload on Latte by Thursday February 1st.
Section II: Techniques for Policy Analysis
Class 4: February 5, Criteria for Evaluating and Understanding Policy
Continue discussion of the criteria for evaluating policy and how it is formed and understood.
Focus will be on the use of numbers, analogy, problem and solution definition and
understanding.
Readings:
NPR (2017) Here is Why the Census Started Counting Latinos and How that Could Change in
2020. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/08/03/541142339/heres-why-the-censusstarted-counting-latinos-and-how-that-could-change-in-2020
Stone, Chapters 7 through 10. But please also review chapters on equity, efficiency, welfare,
liberty, and security.
Required Blog entry: Blog on blogs: Find 3 or 4 blogs in your area of policy interest and blog on their strengths
and weaknesses. (For people in the field who want to know what to read)
Op Ed Critiques Due by Tuesday February 13th.
Class 5: February 12, Quantitative Techniques I, Cost Effectiveness Analysis – Guest
Speaker- Prof. Donald Shepard
This class starts with a survey of techniques for conducting policy analysis. It begins with cost
effectiveness analysis and cost benefit analysis. The second half of the class will be spent
debating Oregon’s use of cost effectiveness analysis to rank order medical treatments for
reimbursement purposes. Hand Out Second Assignment: Cost Benefit Analysis Policy Memo, Due March
14th.
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Readings:
Louise Russell et. al. “The Role of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health and Medicine” JAMA,
October 9, 1996 Vol. 276, No 14. P 1172 – 1177.
Milton Weinstein et. al. “Recommendations of the Panel on Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in
Health and Medicine,” JAMA, October 16, 1996 Vol. 276, No 15. P 1253 – 1258.
David Hadorn, “Setting Health Care Priorities in Oregon, Cost-effectiveness Meets the Rule of
Rescue,” JAMA, May 1, 1991 Vol. 265, No 17. P 2218 – 2225.
“Oregon’s Methods Did Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Fail?” JAMA, October 16, 1991, Vol. 266.
No. 15, P 2135 – 2141.
Possible readings from Prof. Shepard
Additional Readings:
Samuel R. G. Finayson, and John D. Birkmeyer. “Cost Effectiveness Analysis in Surgery,”
Surgery, February 1998.
Garber. “Cost-effectiveness and Evidence Evaluation as Criteria for Coverage Policy,” Health
Affairs, May 19, 2004.
Office of Technology Assessment. “The Implications of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Medical
Technology,” August 1980.
Blog entry: Write a humorous cost benefit analysis about getting married, buying a car, buying a
house, having a child, getting an MPP in social welfare policy or something similarly
inappropriate. Account for opportunity cost and time. Include a discount rate and justification.
(Satire)
Class 6: February 26, Quantitative Techniques II, Benefit Cost Analysis, Decision Analysis,
and Risk Analysis
We will wrap up our discussion of quantitative techniques including cost benefit analysis,
decision analysis and risk analysis. This will include information the appropriateness of each
technique to particular circumstances -- strengths and weaknesses of each technique. We will
examine how these methods have been used to shape policy. Examples from House and Shull
will be used to evaluate arguments supporting and critiquing public choice theory that underlie
these policy analysis tools.
Readings will be selected from among the following:
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Stone, Chapter 11 Decisions
House and Shull, Chapters 3, Benefit Cost Analysis
Weimer, Vining, Chapter 12, Benefit-Cost Analysis (Optional)
House and Shull, Chapter 4, Risk Analysis and Chapter 5, Decision Analysis (Optional)
Weimer, Vining, Chapter 14, Benefit-Cost in a Bureaucratic Setting: The Strategic Petroleum
Reserve
Possible Readings by Packard, Peters, and / or Guo
Blog entry: Write advocating that government increase the use of quantitative analysis more
broadly in a particular policy area. Alternatively write about the dangers of an over-reliance
1on the use of quantitative analysis. (Government trade organization, AFSME, or APPAM)
Class 7, March 5, Meta-Analysis and Case Study Methods
Quantitative techniques are not always possible in real world situations and often questions are
more conducive to qualitative methods. Primary quantitative data are often unavailable or time
constraints prohibit their collection and analysis. Here a systematic review of existing studies
may be most appropriate. A case study method may be more appropriate when questions are
how and why a particular program or policy is not working. Hand Out Final Assignment.
Readings:
Michele Alexander: TED talk: The Future of Race in America. Pay attention to her data sources
and how she relies on the case study method.
Light, R. and Pillemer, D. (1984). Organizing a Reviewing Strategy. In Summing Up: The
Science of Reviewing Research. Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press.
Light, R. and Pillemer, D. (1984). Numbers and Narrative: The Division of Labor. In Summing
Up: The Science of Reviewing Research. Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press.
Smart, C., Hendrick, R, E., Rutledge J., and Smith, R. (1995). “Benefits of Mammography
Screening in Women Ages 40 to 49 Years. Current Evidence from Randomized Controlled
Trials.” Cancer, V. 75, N.7. April.
Yin, R.K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. (2nd edition). Chapters 1 and 2.
McCarthy, D. and Mueller, K. (2009). Organizing for Higher Performance: Case Studies of
Organized Delivery Systems. New York: Commonwealth Fund.
Peter J. Hass and J. Fred Spinger. (1998) Applied Policy Research Concepts and Cases.
Blog entry: Write about how policy analysis can help inform a state law or a public school
policy about bathroom use for trans-gender people. (State legislators /staff, school committee
members / staff)
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Section III: The Application of Research and Policy Case Studies
Class 8, March 12, Early Childhood Development Policy
The goal of this class will be to understand how real policymakers use policy analysis, and what
other factors are critical to making policy decisions. We will also discuss the necessary skills and
role of the policy analyst, and discuss potential ethical dilemmas.
How has or can policy analysis shape early childhood development policy in America? The
focus will be on what information/analysis is helpful for lawmakers/decision-makers in
constructing/altering policy. We will focus on the nexus of research, policy and advocacy.
Policy Memo Due Wednesday March 14th.
Readings:
John A. Lippitt. (June/July 2001). Policy & Policy Making for Infants, Toddlers, and Their
Families: A Primer for Practitioners. From Zero to Three. P 4 – 8.
Hahn, H., Isaacs, J., et al. (2014). Kids’ share 2014. Urban Institute. (Pages 3-20)
http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/413215-Kids-Share-2014.pdf (14 pages)
Barnett et al. (2013). The State of Preschool 2013. Executive Summary (read pages 5 – 18 and
review at least one state’s 2 page summary) (6 pages of text + 8 charts):
http://nieer.org/sites/nieer/files/yearbook2013.pdf
Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. (2014). Brain builders. (4 min. video)
http://www.albertafamilywellness.org/resources/video/how-brains-are-built-core-story-braindevelopment
White House Summit on Early Education. (12/10/14). The Economics of Early Childhood
Investments. (Read pages 3-34) (31 pages)
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/early_childhood_report1.pdf
Shonkoff et al. (2012). The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress.
Pediatrics, 129:1. (12 pages)
Rolnick video: http://franken.senate.gov/?p=video&id=1577 (5 min)
FrameWorks Institute. (2009). Framing Early Childhood Development Message Brief. (6p)
http://www.frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/ECD/ecd_message_brief_2009.pdf
FrameWorks Institute: Under Research on Issues, Children, Early Childhood Development and
Budgets and Taxes, play the game Swamped! at
http://games.frameworksinstitute.org/Swamped-ECDBT.html
Blog entry: Write about the need for information and analysis in a particular area of children
youth and family policy at the federal, state or local level? (CFY Policy Blog)
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Class 9, March 19, Health Policy, Guest Speaker – Prof. Michael Doonan
This class will be about state health care reform in Massachusetts and the strategy of
commissioning research to forward policy goals. What role did research and policy analysis in
getting Massachusetts Health Care Reform on to the legislative agenda. Specific attention will be
paid to how an affordability standard was derived.
Hand in Paragraph on Approach to Final Paper
Readings:
John Holahan, Jack Hadley, Linda Blumberg. Setting a Standard of Affordability for Health
Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts. The Urban Institute. August 2006.
Christine Barber, Michael Miller. Defining Affordability for Massachusetts – How Can
Research Inform the Individual Mandate? Community Catalyst. April 2007.
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). Mandating Health Care Insurance: What is
Truly Affordable for Massachusetts Families? Executive Summary.
Jonathan Gruber. Evidence on Affordability From Consumer Expenditures and Employee
Enrollment in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance. Executive Summary. March 2007.
Blog entry: Write about how policy analysis can help inform one aspect of ACA implementation.
(Health Affairs blog)
Class 10, March 26: Guest Speaker Dean David Weil: U.S Labor Policy: Data analysis,
people, politics and process
Additional Readings to be determined:
Robert Reich, Locked in the Cabinet. First Vintage Books. New York, New York, 1997. 271-338
I.M. Destler, The National Economic Council: A Work in Progress. Institute for International
Economics, Washington DC. 1996.
Class 11, April 9, Alumni panel.
Readings to be determined.
Blog entry: Write a blog for the Small Business Association of America in support of a raise in
the minimum wage. (Trade Journal opposed to your position)
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Section IV: Student Presentations
Class 12, April 16, Student Presentations
Students will have 7 minutes to present their policy analysis and there will be 4 minutes for
questions and answers.
Required Blog entry: What skills have you learned in this course and how might you continue to
refine and improve them in the future? (Personal diary tone)
Class 13, April 23, Student Presentations
Students will have 7 minutes to present their policy analysis and there will be 4 minutes for
questions and answers.
Final papers are due on Friday, April 27.
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