PubPol 495

PubPol 495.004: Policy Seminar: Engaging the Public in Policy-Making

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Fall 2023
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PUBPOL 495 (Policy Seminar) is for students currently enrolled in the Public Policy Undergraduate Program only, no exceptions. Enrollment is by permission only.

When designing new policies or programs, or adapting existing policies at the local level, engaging the public can enable governments to be more targeted to local needs, more effective within a local context, and more sustainable by developing local ownership and buy-in, among other benefits. The practice of public participation seeks to engage the public in decision-making about policies and programs that affect them, or about which they have a special interest. This course will explore the strategies commonly used to engage the intended targets of a policy in policy-making and programmatic design both at the domestic and international levels. Topics include the 'why' and 'when' of participation within the policy process, design of participation activities, tools for engagement of participants, analyzing and using public insight, as well as key challenges of public participation such as ensuring representativeness, equity, and inclusion within participation activities. Students will delve into ethical issues inherent in balancing 'how much', 'when', and 'whose' participation is sought within a given context. 

Students will engage in theoretical and case-based work, and will practice designing, implementing, and analyzing outcomes from participation activities. To do this, students will work in teams of 3-4 to lead participation activities in a simulated environment. Students will also be expected to hone their policy writing skills through written reflections and by developing a public participation manual. The manual will be drafted in sections throughout the semester, after which students will revise each section based on feedback for inclusion in the final manual.