Course Overview

This course is designed to give master’s students in public affairs a background in understanding critical issues and techniques used in public policy analysis. We will explore topics related to i) the process and rationales of policy analysis, ii) the political dynamics of policy-making, iii) analyzing policy problems, iv) examining and selecting policy alternatives, v) evaluating policy performances, and vi) developing policy arguments and communicating policy analysis.

This course is designed to prepare students for their current and future careers in public service. This course will introduce students to the fundamental skills of policy analysis and the decision-making for identifying and addressing public policy problems. Specifically, students will acquire competencies such as i) identifying and analyzing policy issues and problems using different methods, ii) modeling and evaluating policy alternatives and tools, iii) communicating policy analysis with the public based on ethical reasoning and democratic participation, and iv) recognizing difficulties in policy analysis and negotiating interest-based resolutions with stakeholders. I hope this course helps you think creatively and critically about public policy issues and policy analysis.

By the end of the semester, students will be able to develop their own ideas about questions such as: What are the proper roles of the government in society? What are the theoretical justifications for public intervention? What are the political dynamics in defining policy problems and choosing policy alternatives? What are the analytic tools that can be used? How can we evaluate policy outcomes? How do you make convincing arguments for communicating your analysis? What are the limitations of policy analysis?


2020 Fall



Required Text

Weimer, D. L., & Vining, A. R. (2017). Policy analysis: Concepts and practice. Taylor & Francis.

Wildavsky, A. (1987). Speaking truth to power: Art and craft of policy analysis (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Lindblom, C. E., & Woodhouse, E.D. (1990). The policy-making process (3rd ed.). Prentice-Hall.
Stone, D. A. (2012). Policy paradox: The art of political decision making (3rd ed.). New York: Norton.

Course Schedule

M Topic
1 What is policy (analysis)?
2 Market model
3 Market failures I
4 Market failures II
5 Government failures
6 Addressing market and government failures
7 Policy adoption and implementation
8 Government provision
9 Midterm (take-home)
10 Conducting policy analysis
11 Cost-benefit analysis
12 Using policy analysis matrix
13 Thanksgiving
14 Limitations of policy analysis
15 Policy analysis memo presentation
16 Policy analysis memo submission