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PSC 751 Public Policy Analysis

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Methods and theoretical approaches used in professional policy analysis. Application of analytical skills and techniques to a public policy area of the student's choosing.

About the Course

This course will introduce students to the essential skills of public policy analysis and program evaluation. It is designed to present students with the general theory, analytic frameworks, and techniques necessary to analyze policy alternatives. Policy analysis can be understood as the analytic and methodological toolbox for generalized problem solving. The methods learned in this course are applicable across the private, nonprofit and public sectors and should be thought of as the essential skill set that can distinguishes you a professional policy analyst.

Learning Objectives

The first objective of the course is to provide an introduction to the theory of public goods, an understanding of market and governance failures, and the role of public intervention. This provides the fundamental conceptual background for the empirical methods of policy analysis.

The second objective is to teach how to empirically evaluate the impact of public interventions and assist in improving decision-making. Toward this goal we will apply various policy evaluation techniques including sensitivity analysis, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness and life cycle cost analysis, and other alternative methods. Student will learn these techniques through the application to real world applications, including a final project.

On successful completion of the course, student should have developed competency in the following areas:

  1. A general understanding of the rational for government interventions in private markets, individual decisions and society.
  2. Knowledge of the logic of market and governance failures.
  3. Understanding of the economics and impact of various policy instruments.
  4. Awareness of the skill sets expected of professional policy analysts.
  5. Exposure to standard methods and approaches of public policy analysis.


Derek Kauneckis, Ph.D.,

Derek Kauneckis is an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada Reno. He is the co-author of Evaluating transferable development rights at Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency: The evolution of collaboration. He has published peer reviewed articles in Environmental Management, Natural Resources Journal, Studies in Comparative International Development, Environmental Policy and Planning, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior, and chapters in Integrated Science Plan for the Lake Tahoe basin, The Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics, and Governing America: Major Policies and Decisions of Federal, State, and Local Government from 1789 to the Present. His research interests include environmental policy, property rights theory, public policy analysis, local governance, science and technology policy, and climate change adaption and mitigation policy.

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