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Applied Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation: Real-World Decision Making

Paris, France

Dates: June 2-15, 2024
Course: PLCY699N

For sound policy making, governments, multinational organizations, NGOs, and funders need to make informed assessments of the strengths and weakness of programs. Program evaluation is an essential element of their work. This creates a demand for staff able to apply the tools of systematic policy analysis and program evaluation.

The course seeks to advance the knowledge and careers of participants by helping them understand and apply those tools.

Students will learn how to:

  • Conduct policy analyses in different political environments (including defining the problem, identifying and assessing options, and making recommendations);
  • Apply evaluation methodologies to assess program effectiveness (including qualitative, pre/post, interrupted time series, comparison group, and econometric studies as well as randomized control trials and natural experiments);
  • Summarize and synthesize research and evaluations (including literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-evaluations);
  • Consider political and cost factors, as well as social and ethical considerations; and 
  • Make real-world recommendations using an explanatory decision-making matrix

The course will include discussion seminars with leading academics and practitioners. Some of these seminars will be conducted on-site in Paris, Brussels and Luxembourg with senior officials at the European Commission, European Court of Auditors, European Investment Bank, European Parliamentary Research Service, EuroStat and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Students will prepare a policy brief/analysis, selecting either a topic from the broader subject areas of “The Future of Work” and of social welfare protections or a topic of their own choosing. To help students become better acquainted with these topics, they will be the subject of the on-site meetings.

For their final papers, students will prepare a policy analysis/brief. All other assignments in the course are for the purpose of assisting students in the process of completing their policy analyses/briefs.

Students will select topics and briefly describe the scope of the topic. The underlying broad subject matter of the course will be “The Future of Work” (and dealing with issues such as an aging workforce, the digitalization of work processes, the growth of platform work and the “gig” economy) and social welfare protections, and policy solutions for addressing these issues. Students will be briefed on these topics during visits at the OECD, European Parliamentary Research Service, European Commission, European Court of Auditors, and European Investment Bank. Students, however, may select other topics for their policy analyses that better fit their areas of interest. Project descriptions will be due to the instructors by Thursday, June 15.

As the final product for the course, students will prepare policy analyses/briefs, using one of the templates discussed in the course. Final papers will be due by Friday, August 25.

For details and to apply see the Office of International Affairs