Fundamentals of Policy Analysis

PAI 897, 3 Credits

Fundamentals of Policy Analysis provides an understanding of some of the models and methods used in policy analysis for the public and nonprofit sectors. The course provides students with an understanding of the rationale for and limits to public sector policies.

Since many public policies, and certainly much analysis of those policies, rely heavily on basic principles of economics, a portion of the course is devoted to an explanation of those principles. The second portion of the course focuses on the policy analysis process, including recognition of the multiple objectives commonly sought from public policies, and illustrates how the rational policy analysis model can be used to evaluate alternative policy instruments. The third portion of the course focuses on cost-benefit analysis as one technique for systematically analyzing the effects of potential policies.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and explain the basics of market-based methods for allocating scarce resources, the variety of ways markets can fail to efficiently allocate those resources, and the policy instruments governments might use to correct for these failures.
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of various policy analytic tools and approaches, being mindful of the various and often competing objectives sought from public policies.
  • Describe and analyze the ethical issues faced by policy analysts.