Science and Public Policy
Full course description
One of the most striking developments of contemporary public policy making governance has been the increasing engagement with the world of science, broadly interpreted as including social and natural sciences. This is no longer only the case for the special domain of research and development policy where public authorities seek to actively promote scientific and technological innovations. Within the recent decades nearly all domains of public policy-making have become profoundly "scientized": be it the negotiation of a climate policy agreement, endorsement of a new method or means of medical therapy, release of a genetically modified organism, treatment schemes for sexual delinquency, regulation of financial instruments and trade, public aid programs to combat poverty or transfer of technologies to developing countries. There is barely an area of governance where policymakers do not base their decisions on the scrutinized evaluation and consultation by scientific or professional experts. The evolution, structure and the wider social implications of this tightening nexus between science and policy are the themes of this specialization. By addressing this and related questions this specialization program provides its students with the reflective resources necessary to understand and scrutinize the ways in which public policy operates under the conditions of an emerging knowledge-society. This specialization will prepare the students for a broad spectrum of professional functions related to the formulation, execution, and the consequences of science- based policies.
The specialization combines insights and methods from science and technology studies from the core of the ESST program with those of related fields of public policy analysis (political science, political sociology, institutional economics). The specialization deals with the phenomenon of science-policy interaction as a general phenomenon of contemporary society. The students will gain in-depth appreciation of different methods, theories, and practical tools to analyze complex policy problems and to identify and evaluate their normative implications. This specialization allows students to concentrate on case studies of specific interest to them but analyzed using a mix of tools provided through lectures by the faculty, guest lectures, seminar discussions, and assignments.
While participants will become technically equipped, they are also encouraged to develop a sense of humility about the limits of their tools and the relative adequacy or inadequacy of alternative models for decision making. Most importantly, the participants will learn how to communicate their expertise concisely and convincingly.