Master of Public Policy (MPP) Learning Outcomes

1. An understanding of the process of policy design and the components of the policy process: the manner by which local, regional, national, and international levels of governance make decisions – based on knowledge of concepts, theories and principles from the social sciences, particularly economics, demography, law, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, operations research, and regional analysis studies.

o Knowledge of the social sciences’ contributions to this understanding (e.g., economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, psychology, geography) including knowledge of the significance of political structure and function uponpolicy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.
o Knowledge of how governance systems involved in the policy making process are influenced, and affected by, public finance, level of political development, and global policy innovation and its diffusion from one polity to others.
o Knowledge of the role of natural and physical science principles in policy decisions harboring an element of risk, and the effectiveness of divergent strategies to manage policy problems harboring risk (e.g., disaster policy, environmental and health policy, transportation policy), including regulation, economic incentives, education and information dissemination, and voluntary compliance approaches.
o Knowledge of how actual policies are made and modified in particular domains (e.g., health, environment, education, employment, welfare, immigration).
o Knowledge of the outcomes and consequences of policies in these (e.g., health, the environment, education, employment, welfare, immigration) and other areas with respect to social equity, health improvement, educational outcomes, and overall social welfare and societal well-being.
o Knowledge of how policies are implemented in different domains, including barriers to effective policy implementation and ways to determine if such barriers can be anticipated – and the design of policies modified – before policies are introduced.
o Knowledge of how policies are evaluated, including the factors that determine if a policy is a success or a failure, and the diverse ways policy outcomes and their effectiveness are viewed by different stakeholders.
o Knowledge of the role of government in the economy and its impact on individuals and firms, including the role of government intervention in the market through various public policies; the extent (scope or breadth) of that intervention; and, the response of individuals and firms to the government’s actions.


2. An understanding of the consequences of different ethical theories as applied to public policy and their practical consequences on the formulation of policy decisions and policy outcomes – drawing upon various ethical traditions including utilitarianism, deontological theories, natural law, distributive justice theories, and practical or situational ethics principles.

o How critical debates in public policy are often framed as ethical debates with competing narratives about justice, equity, fairness, inclusiveness, and the public interest.
o How ethical analyses are utilized in policy research and professional work – and in different policy-related careers, including ethical conflicts that may arise in policy research and professional analytical work.
o How to independently diagnose, analyze and assess how “better” public policy decisions might result from more effective use of ethical reasoning.
o How different ethical theories applied to public policy define justice, fairness, inclusiveness, goodness, rightness, and virtue – and the conditions that promote these outcomes, as well as the conditions that make policy issues subject to ethical concern.
o How certain political/governmental conditions (e.g., democracy, authority, community, due process of law, formal constitutions, respect for individual liberty and freedom) bring about, or impede, the achievement of certain ethical criteria thought by philosophers and policy analysts to be desirable.
o How policy conflicts may result from applying multiple ethical approaches to a program’s design and implementation, especially with regards to (e.g., democracy, community, inclusiveness, due process, freedom, liberty, and authority).
o How debates over the cognitive status of ethical principles affect public policies, especially with respect to those who contend that what is morally true is rationally knowable – the so-called cognitivist tradition – as opposed to those who believe values and morals are merely opinions that cannot be proven to be true-false (non-cognitivists).

3. Understanding the skills needed to practice policy analysis within a variety of venues, and in ways that are consistent with professional norms for policy analysis, consultative work, and other forms of public service.

o Knowledge of the role of the policy analyst in designing, formulating, implementing, and evaluating public policy, including compromises between being a policy and political advisor, and problems related to the “ownership” of the policy analyst’s research.
o Using problem-solving skills to select, diagnose and solve relevant aspects of complex public policy problems, including attention to the needs and interests of diverse stakeholders, clients, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
o Demonstrate an ability to conceptualize problems from complex, real world situations in order to ensure that the character of policy problems are meaningfully understood by potential clients, and are also research-worthy.
o Using quantitative research skills to identify, test and evaluate empirical relationships between various aspects of the public policy process, and process leading to outcomes – including sound understanding of what constitutes credible evidence in support of policy arguments and decisions.
o Using qualitative and quantitative research skills to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of public policy claims through, for example, examination of various widely accepted measures of poverty, growth, environmental quality, and the like.
o Using written, oral and graphic skills to compose clear, accurate and compelling text, images and maps in documents and oral presentations describing a policy problem and its possible solution(s).
o Being able to compile and synthesize primary and secondary data from multiple sources to address public policy questions and their solution(s).
o Using and developing ethnographic observations and semi-structured interviews to engage in the conceptual, ethical and practical issues of qualitative research and its use in public policy analysis.
o Collaborating with peers in joint learning activities (i.e., capstone projects) to produce a policy recommendation, evaluation, or assessment for a relevant professional client, public agency, or non-profit organization.
o Collaborating with peers in developing and practicing oral presentations to clients, agencies, and other organizations – and summarizing the content of collaborative research that displays skill in problem identification, policy analysis, synthesis of alternatives, and crystallization of recommendations.
o Using ideas about the creation of policy recommendations, evaluations, assessments, or programs or projects to prepare an individually-crafted product for a specific public policy purpose and audience.
o Using forecasts and scenarios to anticipate and describe future changes in society and the built environment that will affect, and be affected by, public policy.

4. Understanding the different methods and approaches affecting the practice of public policy analysis and the roles these approaches play in the policy process, including as tools for understanding policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.

o Acquire knowledge of inclusive management – methods that effectively utilize public resources to alter relationships within organizations, between organizations, between sectors, and with the public in order to develop leadership, foster motivation, and encourage participation by under-represented groups.
o Acquire knowledge on how public managers can effectively negotiate with material scarcity within government agencies and non-governmental policy organizations, as well as with organizational, conceptual, and ideological boundaries to produce greater levels of public service.
o Acquire insight into the use of fundamental principles of microeconomics in policy analysis and its application to assessing policy outcomes, individual policy choices, and tradeoffs among policy choices.
o Acquiring knowledge sufficient to enable students to identify important economic issues in public policy debates and to understand – as well as critique – economic research on these topics.

o Acquire knowledge about public vs. private models of governance and how public agencies succeed or fail at acting in the public interest as well as the role of policy entrepreneurs in policy governance.
o Understand the ways in which power and legitimacy in public policy organizations are affected by the stakeholders these organizations serve, how they relate to these stakeholders, and the extent to which deliberation and public input is valued as a means of enhancing an organization’s impact on public service.
o Understand the characteristics that make somebody an expert with respect to public policy analysis, including the difference between individual expertise and being a part of a group having expertise – and how different categories of expert, and different pathways of expertise, affect policy formation and implementation.
o Assessing and choosing among different forms of democratic decision making that support and improve the quality of public policies, including the values of fair representation, equal opportunity and non-discrimination by race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or disability.
o Acquiring knowledge regarding working with diverse communities, especially communities consisting of disadvantaged groups and persons and racial and ethnic minorities, immigrant communities, and other under-represented populations.

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