Courses for the Certificate in Public Policy

Below is a list of PRGS courses eligible for the Certificate in Public Policy open to Southwestern Law School students. Students who wish to take courses that do not have an "*" may do so with permission from the professor and an understanding of the time commitment involved.

* These courses may be of particular interest to students in this program.

PRGS students in the Southwestern Law certificate program can find the courses available to them on the Southwestern Law School website.

Questions may be directed to Stefanie Stern, Director for Admissions at prgs@prgs.edu.

Course selection is subject to change. Some elective courses are not offered every year, and seminar topics may vary from year to year.

Core Courses

Cost Benefit and Cost Effectiveness Analysis (.5 unit)
This course introduces two related analytic tools used to structure policy problems and evaluate options: cost benefit and cost effectiveness analysis. These tools apply economic methods to facilitate a more efficient allocation of resources in situations where markets are not working well. Cost Benefit analysis is used in fine tuning public investments and regulations. It consists of techniques for converting all the estimated inputs and outcomes into current dollar equivalents. Cost-effectiveness can be used whenever all outcomes can be expressed in a single non-financial metric, but has been most commonly used in health care, where decision makers may value all people's health equally and are reluctant to assign a dollar value to health.

Empirical Analysis I: Probability and Statistics (1 unit)
This course introduces students to the technical and practical statistical knowledge necessary for providing informed and careful policy analysis. The topics include descriptive statistics, principles of probability, discrete and continuous random variables, elementary sampling, and tests of hypotheses associated with the univariate normal distribution. The computer program Stata is taught and used throughout.

Empirical Analysis II: Regression Analysis (1 unit)
This course examines the theoretical underpinnings and the practical application of multivariate regression models, with an emphasis on Ordinary Least Squares. The course uses extensive analytic derivations, practical examples, and presentations by RAND researchers. A significant portion of the course is devoted to understanding the uses and limitations of regression techniques in policy analysis.

Empirical Analysis III: Econometrics (1 unit)
Often in policy analysis, the crucial analytic question concerns the causal effect of a policy, program, or procedure. This course provides an in-depth consideration of the problem of estimating causal effects and the three leading approaches to doing so in applied work: random assignment, fixed effects, and instrumental variables. To do so, the course develops linear asymptotic theory, which is applied to analyzing causal models and then to analyzing data that is not independent and identically distributed (non-i.i.d.). Non-i.i.d. models considered include heteroscedasticity, panel and clustered data, and time series. The course is taught through a combination of written problem sets, data analyses, and close reading of recent, exemplary papers.

Macroeconomics (1 unit)
This course will give students a practical introduction to the field of open economy macroeconomics. Its purpose is to establish basic concepts and teach students how to apply theory to current policy problems. Topics to be covered include national income accounting; aggregate supply and demand; consumption, saving, investment, and the current account; money, exchange rates, and prices; financial markets; economic growth; and output determination under perfect and imperfect international capital mobility and under fixed and flexible exchange rates.

Microeconomics I (1 unit)
Economic models provide a tool for anticipating the consequences of policy decisions and evaluating their effectiveness. These models are used in the analysis of traditional economic issues like compensation policy and minimum wages as well as the analysis of health care, education, law, and other areas. This course provides a background in microeconomic theory that is used in policy analysis. The main topics are consumer theory, theory of the firm, and partial equilibrium analysis.

Microeconomics II (1 unit)
This course explores the concepts of market equilibrium and market failure. It begins by developing the techniques necessary for understanding equilibrium in a complex economy with many simultaneously operating markets, and the methods economists use to evaluate policy in this context. Specific topics will include public goods, externalities, the economics of property rights and legal institutions, and the fundamental welfare theorems. The second half of the course will be devoted to understanding the economics of information, and the way in which information flows govern economic equilibrium. Specifically, we will explore situations of asymmetric information, adverse selection, moral hazard, uncertainty, and insurance.

Operations Research I (1 unit)
This course teaches prescriptive and descriptive modeling techniques that can be used to structure policy problems and evaluate options. It focuses on some commonly used analytic tools and software for optimization and simulation. Additionally, we will discuss two specific types of problems: Markov processes and Queuing Systems. More broadly, the course is also an introduction to problem formulation. By the end of the course, students should be able to structure policy problems, formulate mathematical models that address them, use the tools to solve simple problems, interpret the results, and understand the limitations of these methods.

* Policy Analysis I: Perspectives on Public Policy Analysis (1 unit)

Required for certificate in public policy

The purpose of the course is to introduce PRGS students to the profession of public policy analysis and to provide them with an overview of the tools of the trade. This includes describing the general framework, methods, ethics, and professional standards used by policy analysts, as well as techniques for communicating with clients. In short, the course is designed to help students develop a professional identity.

* Political and Social Science II: Methods of Social Science (1 unit)
The second course in the political and social science sequence is designed to enable students: to learn how to translate policy issues into research questions and make use of alternative social science methods, including structured and qualitative, to answer them; to become more informed users and critics of policy research, to develop the capacity to write a comprehensive research proposal, and to prepare to work on RAND projects for OJT

* Policy Analysis III: Case Studies (.5 unit)
This five-week, case-study course is designed to expose students to the many complexities of policy analysis. Examples will be drawn from across the policy-analysis spectrum and will cover issues related to: (1) formative evaluations where analysts have to define and scope policy problems, assess intervention options, and design implementation strategies; (2) process evaluations where analysts have to assess and improve on existing program implementations or policies; and (3) summative evaluations where analysts have to assess the impact of a program and advise on whether it should be continued or scaled-up. Each week, materials on a specific case and will be provided and students will be expected to discuss the case in class.

Optional Preparatory Course

Decision Analysis (.5 unit)
This mini-course introduces two commonly used analytic tools that can be used to structure policy problems and evaluate options: difference equations, decision analysis. By the end of the course, students should be able to set up problems, apply the tools if appropriate, interpret the results, and understand the limitations of these methods.

Mathematics for Policy Analysis (1 unit)
This course is a primer in the fundamental principles of mathematics used in Microeconomics, Statistics, Econometrics, Analytic Methods, and other PRGS courses. It is intended for entering PRGS students who do not have strong backgrounds in mathematics and quantitative methods. The Mathematica software package is used to help students understand and interpret the mathematical concepts taught in the course. This course covers: functions, particularly exponential and logarithmic functions, techniques of proof, single variable calculus, linear algebra (vectors, matrices, linear systems), multivariate calculus (integral and differential), sequences and series, optimization.

Anticipated Elective Courses

(Note: elective offerings are subject to change)

Advanced Econometrics I: Applied Non-Linear Modeling and Multi-Level Analysis (.5 unit)
This course is a continuation of and complementary to Empirical Analysis III: Econometrics. This second year course extends the analysis to asymptotic theory for non-linear models, non-linear econometric models (e.g., NLLS, non-linear GMM, and ML), and considers structural approaches to estimation. In addition, it includes considerable empirical work. Specific models considered include the linear probability model, probit, logit, poisson regression, tobit, index function models, sample selection models, hazard models (discrete time and continuous time); and their generalizations to panel data, systems of equations, and the estimation and simulation of the parameters of stochastic processes commonly encountered in the analysis of dynamic systems in policy analysis.

(Economic Analysis and Quantitative Methods concentrations)
Pre-requisite: Empirical Analysis III

Advanced Econometrics II & III: Topics in Advanced Econometrics (1 unit)
This ten-week course is complementary to Empirical Analysis III: Econometrics. While that course focuses on identification strategies in linear models, this course considers non-linear models as well as extensions of linear and non-linear models to panel data. The course first provides students with a basic understanding of the econometric theory behind non-linear models defined implicitly as solutions to an optimization problem. This allows students to get a better understanding of the relationship between the various estimation methods used in the course and their relative merits for different applications. Using that theory, the course considers some commonly applied non-linear models: binary, ordered and multinomial choice, censored and truncated outcomes, and duration models. The course also considers generalizations of these models for panel data and advanced methods for treatment evaluation. Emphasis is put on the policy relevance of such applications. Evaluation is based on biweekly problem sets and a take-home final exam.

(Economic Analysis and Quantitative Methods concentrations)
Pre-requisite: Advanced Econometrics I or permission from the professors

Advanced Statistics for Policy Analysis (1 unit)
This course will discuss the modeling and analysis of temporal and spatial data to inform policy issues. We will use software, namely the R system, which enables the exploration of such data. Employment data over time is a frequently encountered example of a temporal data set. Geographic data is an example of a spatial data set where the location of data points and their proximity to others is studied. Our examination of time series analysis will consider frequency-domain, relating to the number repeating events occurring per unit time, and time-domain, relating to events occurring at specific points in time, methods. For the analysis of spatial series we will use clustering, the assignment of objects to groups, and spatial or geometric methods. When the student completes this course he or she will be able to identify time and spatial series and their components as well possess the ability to undertake analysis of these data to support policy decisions.
(Quantitative Methods concentration)

Pre-requisite: Empirical Methods 1, II, and knowledge of R system

Applied Psychometrics (1 unit)
This course aims to introduce students to the application of psychometric analysis, from a research perspective. Psychometrics involves measurements of people's beliefs, moods, attitudes, aptitudes, and abilities; measuring these constructs in people requires a set of tools that allow us to make links between the thing we are actually assessing (i.e. the answers to questions given by individuals) and the thing we are actually interested in (the psychological state of the individuals who have completed the measures). It is this distinction that makes psychological measurement both challenging and interesting. We cannot make decisions about policy to improve outcomes if we cannot measure those outcomes.

We will focus on the application of psychometric theory, not on the mathematical proof of that theory. Students should have an understanding of basic statistics, probability, correlation, and linear and logistic regression. The course will cover the development and testing of a psychometric instrument, developed by the student.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)

* Arms Control and Public Policy (.5 unit)
This course will examine the theoretical basis for arms control and then consider specific examples of arms control treaties and their respective effects on political-military rivalries.

(Social Science concentration)

* Constitution and Public Policy (.5 unit)
The U.S. Constitution is a central and often unacknowledged player in federal and state public policymaking. U.S. Supreme Court decisions last term, for example, on constitutional disputes over eminent domain, Grokster, medical marijuana, and the rights of criminal suspects had immediate, major consequences for litigants, policymakers, and all Americans. Yet policy students rarely encounter the Constitution in their studies, and fundamental legal concepts underlying American government like "due process" or "equal protection" often mystify them. This mini-course familiarizes students with this nation's founding document and the Supreme Court, including a look at current (and prospective) justices and how they have interpreted the Constitution. The course has two goals. First, we'll discuss a selection of contemporary cases to demonstrate how the Constitution defines the boundaries for public policy and policy research. Second, we'll look at how policy research, in turn, has influenced the Court's decisions.

(Social Science concentration)

Cost-Benefit Analysis II (.5 unit)
This course examines in more depth the theoretical foundations, empirical tools, and limitations of cost-benefit analysis as a tool of policy analysis. Applications will emphasize health, energy and environment, and defense, and will cover both cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit issues. Classroom time will be a 50-50 mix of lecture and discussion. students will work in groups on a significant application of CBA.

(Economic Analysis and Quantitative Methods concentrations)

* Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy (.5 unit)
The main objectives of this course are to expose students to the multidisciplinary fields of criminology and criminal justice—two distinct perspectives on crime and punishment. The criminology portion of the course will review the literature on the major theories of crime and delinquency, situate the theories in their social and historical contexts, discuss each perspective's assumptions of human nature, outline current debates and delineate key concepts, and discuss the policy implications of each theory. It will examine both micro- and macro-level theories of crime and discuss both their unique methodological challenges and their importance for effective policy. It will also expose them to existing datasets. The criminal justice portion of the course will examine society's response to crime. It will introduce students to the structure and operations of the U.S. criminal justice system—made up of the police, prosecution and defense, courts, and correctional institutions—with particular regard to how the various agencies interact. The course will examine the politics of the system with an eye to how to measure effectiveness and how the system uses and manipulates data. Selected topics of discussion will include the influences of race and poverty; the roles of police in democratic societies; balances between community security and individual rights; the politics of fear in policymaking; re-entry programs; the different theories of punishment; and the challenge of implementing substance abuse and mental health knowledge into criminal justice policy.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)

Current Topics in Macroeconomic Policy Analysis (.5 unit)
Using the tools of macroeconomic policy analysis, this course examines four broad policy problems to understand the underlying causes, place the issues in an international context, and evaluate policy options. The class will mix approaches with empirical evidence to get a better understanding of the policy problems of the labor market, savings and retirement, and economic inequality.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

* Demography (1 unit)
Classic demography is the study of the distribution of people across space and time. To this end, the discipline has been separated into three primary components that determine population change: fertility, mortality, and migration. A broader definition of demography, or population studies, is not limited to merely "bean counting," but includes the study of the determinants and consequences of changes in populations. This course will examine a number of issues that demographers have historically studied, ranging from high fertility and rapid population growth to low fertility and the problems of an aging society and the debate over the benefits and consequences of international migration to the sending and receiving countries. Although this course is not meant to be inclusive of all topics studied by demographers, it provides a sampler of some of the most salient issues facing societies around the world today. The course is also designed to introduce the student to basic demographic methods and data sources.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)

Economic Analysis and the Law (1 unit)
This course applies economic theory and econometric methods to the analysis of law and legal policy. The legal system influences the interactions of individuals and organizations in a number of settings, and economics provides a unified framework for evaluating the outcomes of these interactions. Substantive areas of law that will be covered include personal injury, property, contracts, antitrust and regulation, litigation and crime. Likely policy applications include medical malpractice, asbestos, intellectual property, hospital mergers, and the death penalty. While the course focuses on the American legal system, the analytical methods, and indeed some of the applications, are highly pertinent to other settings.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

Economic Development (1 unit)
This course introduces basic challenges in economic development, with half of the course dedicated to microeconomic perspectives and half the course dedicated to macroeconomic perspectives.

(Economic Analysis and Social Science concentrations)

Economics of Terrorism (1 unit)
The course is intended to provide a formal analysis of terrorism from an economic perspective. We will consider a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches to studying terrorism. This includes the study of the economic costs and consequences of terrorism, the evaluation of the economic root causes on the occurrence of terrorism, the economics of religion and its relation to terrorism and suicide terrorism in particular, the economics of counterterrorism and the political economy of terrorism. All of which will rely heavily on studies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel's experience in coping with terrorism. The course will rely on positive, as opposed to normative, economic analyses aimed to identify cause and effect based on the relevant supporting theories. This course is NOT about the latest political or economic debate on who did what to whom in the Middle East or in any other conflict area. It will, however, provide the tools and understandings necessary for a substantive discussion of that sort to take place.

(Economic Analysis concentration)
Pre-requisite: This course is technically challenging and rigorous and therefore requires a minimum background in research methods, econometrics and microeconomics.

* Ethics in Public Policy (.5 unit)
The meaning of ethics and morals. How do ethics impact public policy. Professional codes of ethics and their enforcement. What is conflict of interest and what should one do when confronting a possible conflict? What is corruption? What is an analyst's responsibility regarding corruption and impropriety? Ethics in the context of societies that differ dramatically — how does one practice in a country or culture where corruption is rampant? Whistle blowing as a complex phenomenon. How aspirational principles can be incorporated in policy analysis without violating ethical codes. Case studies of ethical dimensions of forecasting for public policy. Case studies of "earmarking" by Congress; Case studies of American contractors working abroad and the expectations of local governments regarding bribery.

(Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science concentrations)

Federal Budget Overview (1 unit)
Demonstrate to course participants the importance of resources to policy implementation and provide sufficient background that participants know how the federal budget process works and some of the implications of that process for policy implementation at the federal, state and local levels.

(Social Science concentrations)

* Finance and Accounting (.5 unit)
This course introduces essential topics in accounting and finance, including the objectives of financial accounting, the role of accounting information in making business decisions and in assessing corporate performance, corporate finance, and investments. Intended for students who will be conducting private sector anaysis, such as business regulation and civil justice.

(Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science concentrations)

Game Theory (1 unit)
Course currently in development.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

Health Economics (1 unit)
This course emphasizes the application of economic theory and econometric analysis to important health policy questions. students apply standard models from the core curriculum, and then consider how market failures change the expected outcomes. As such, it provides good preparation for the qualifying examinations in economics and in quantitative methods. Topics include modeling the demand for health (and medical care) explicitly, the decision to buy insurance, selection bias in the context of health outcomes and health plan performance, and models of physician behavior. The class consists of a mixture of lectures and discussion of research papers in the field, with an emphasis on topical health policy questions. This course does not address issues of cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analysis.

(Economic Analysis and Quantitative Methods concentrations)

* History of Contemporary Law and Public Policy (1 unit)

Required for certificate in public policy

In both the public and private sectors, problem solving often involves historical reasoning. Issues are defined as being "like" earlier issues. Alternatives are gauged on assumptions about past trends and about factors that have previously influenced such trends. Whenever analysts or decision makers reason from analogies, project trend lines, or use time series data they act as historians. Yet explicit training in historical analysis or methods has not been a traditional part of policy analytic training. This course is designed to present history as it is encountered in a policy research or policymaking setting. Students learn basic historical research methods, become sensitive to the broad range of historical sources and learn to evaluate how historical data and analytical techniques have been "used" and "misused" in the policy arena. We can accomplish these methodological goals by exploring the history behind a set of contemporary policy issues. For example, past courses have focused on energy policy, welfare reform, criminal justice, transportation planning, and marriage and family law, among other issues.

(Social Science concentration)

Labor Economics (1 unit)
Labor economics as a field has grown enormously in the past several decades. Although originally focused on the interactions between firms and works, modern labor research examines diverse areas such as crime, family interactions, time-use, and education. The purpose of this course is to review a number of topics of interest to labor economists, outlining the relevant theoretical work and empirical evidence. Particular emphasis will be given to identifying data sources that will be useful for students in their own empirical work, as well as furthering students' understanding of the empirical methods used by labor economists.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

Large-Scale Optimization with Applications (.5 unit)
Optimization problems involving large numbers of variables or constraints arise frequently in problems concerning transportation policy, manpower and production planning, design of complex systems, logistics, data mining, and others. Furthermore, the number of variables often used to ensure a problem formulation is tractable (e.g., convex). Efficient algorithms are required to solve large-scale optimization problems since the number of computations grows by at least the cube of the number of variables or constraints. In this five-week advanced course, we will introduce students to efficient methods for formulating and solving large-scale optimization problems and describe applications where these problems may be encountered. In addition, we will introduce a heuristic method commonly employed to solve non-convex problems.

(Quantitative Methods concentration)

* Leadership (.5 unit)
The objective of this course is to inspire a deeper understanding of the complex art of leadership, and to help student reflect on their unique traits and skills and experiences as they develop their own, personal leadership philosophy. This five-week course explores leadership and its fundamental principles: leaders, groups, goals, and guidance. It reviews the literature on leadership theories that have tried to define "good" leadership, and examines why there is little consensus on any one theory. The course further explores the broad factors involved in guiding groups towards goals; including the leader, the group, the goals, and the guidance or policies that direct them.

(Social Science concentration)

* Media and Public Policy (.5 unit)
This course addresses how research is "heard" or "consumed" in the public domain by decisionmakers, journalists and the public. Analysts at high-profile institutions like RAND as well as policymakers and planners need to be sensitive to the policy and political context into which their research falls in order to maximize its impact.

It is not a course in public relations or how to "package" research for public consumption. Rather, it addresses what students ought to know about how journalists and activists on all sides evaluate research and convey those findings and, in turn, how media attention can drive research and push policy change.

(Social Science concentration)

Modern Prediction and Modeling Methods (.5 unit)
This course will discuss modern innovations in statistical modeling, prediction methods, and software to expand the students' analytical toolbox. In public policy analysis data of mixed types (continuous, ordinal, nominal, and simply missing) are the rule rather than the exception. In addition, model inputs often have non-linear relationships to the outcome. Recent developments have greatly expanded the collection of viable analytical methods. In addition to classroom lectures and laboratory assignments, the course will host some of the world's leading experts on the subject as guest speakers.

(Quantitative Methods concentration)

* Nuclear Deterrence (.5 unit)
This course reviews the evolution of nuclear deterrence theory since the end of World War II. The nuclear age saw a significant change in perceptions of the basic concepts of war. As Bernard Brodie wrote in 1946: "The first and most vital step in any American security program for the age of atomic bombs is to take measures to guarantee to ourselves in case of attack the possibility of retaliation in kind. … Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose."

Deterrence of conflict has become a major objective of modern military forces. Yet Thomas Schelling wrote in 1960 that, "What is impressive is not how complicated the idea of deterrence has become, and how carefully it has been refined and developed, but how slow the process has been, how vague the concepts still are, and how inelegant the current theory of deterrence is. … [There has been] little or no help from an already existing body of theory …" While deterrence theory has certainly been developed from the situation that Schelling described, it is still not clear what role deterrence theory will play in the so-called 2nd Nuclear Age (post-Cold War). The first three weeks of this course will focus on deterrence as it was applied in the 1st Nuclear Age (the Cold War). It will examine the evolution of nuclear and other threats, changes in nuclear weapons and their delivery means, and how the circumstances of the various periods affected concepts of deterrence. It will pay particular attention to RAND's role in developing nuclear deterrence. The last two weeks of this course look at the post-Cold War 2nd Nuclear Age and postulating how deterrence may develop in very different circumstances.

(Social Science concentration)

Open-Economy Macroeconomics (1 unit)
This course lays out the basics of modern macroeconomic theory, with emphasis on how macroeconomic policy is actually made. The course develops a series of progressively more comprehensive formal models of the macroeconomy, and students gain proficiency in manipulating these models to predict the consequences of policy changes and exogenous developments. The course also seeks to import a less formal sense of how modern economies operate, the principle instruments and institutions of macroeconomic management, current policy challenges, and subjects of academic and practical controversy. Class discussions and examples focus heavily on the U.S. economy, but attention is paid to institutions and conditions in other countries as ell. Both the formal models and the less formal discussions of policy reflect the growing importance of linkages among national economies.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

Operations Research II (1 unit)
This course expands on the material presented in Operations I by exploring operations research modeling techniques in greater breadth and depth. Theoretical underpinnings are discussed for several techniques including simulation, dynamic programming, networks, and integer programming. Stylized case studies are used to provide contexts, and emphasis is placed throughout on interpreting and modeling the decision-makers' problem. A number of overarching issues are also discussed, including a top-down approach to decision making, advantages and disadvantages of various methods for solving the same problem; verifying, validating, and accrediting models; and dealing with problems having multiple objectives and criteria.

(Quantitative Methods concentration)
Pre-requisite: Operations Research I or permission from the professor

* Organizational Culture of Government Institutions (1 unit – offered as a core course beginning Fall 2011)
Why do government institutions behave the way they do? This course will provide students with an understanding of the context and reality of public policy making and implementation from the perspective of government agencies and other institutions. Through the discussions and reading, students will learn the influences and incentives on the behavior of government institutions, how they differ in their behavior and perspective; the elements of organizational theory applicable to public organizations and those that are not; the possibility for leadership in public policy making and implementation; and the reality of implementation. The focus will be largely on federal institutions, however, all of the material will be relevant to the state and local level. James Q. Wilson and Paul Light will each teach one session of this course.

(Social Science Concentration)

Policy Analysis and the Modeling of Complex Problems (1 unit)
This course teaches advanced methods of planning and resource allocation while accounting for uncertainty, risk, and choice in complex policy problems. It includes modeling, simulation, and tuning results of analysis to support high-level decision makers, who need to understand the implications of their choices. This tuning should reflect not only allegedly "objective" analysis, but also subjective values and judgments, including strategic judgments that decision makers are paid to make. The course will include case studies of current and past RAND policy analysis in transportation, health, defense, counterterrorism, and strategic and program planning. This will be a hands-on course with analytic homework and considerable class discussion of subtleties.

(Quantitative Methods concentration)

Policy Analysis in Fragile States: Case of Afghanistan (.5 unit)
The purpose of this course is to introduce PRGS students to policy analysis in the fragile state of Afghanistan by exploring the recent military/political context of the country and delve into the arenas of education and public health in order to problem solve on a diverse range of policy areas. The three diverse areas of study are selected to provide both the political component as well as the foundational aspects of civil society that impact security and governance.

  • Generally assess U.S. military strategy and counterinsurgency in post-9/11 Afghanistan and examine how to conduct policy decision-making in fragile states such as Afghanistan.
  • Explore the urban vs. rural dilemma as it relates to public health, issues surrounding women such as maternal and infant mortality.
  • Review the current status of Afghanistan's education system
  • Examine the political and historical contexts for decision-making in Afghanistan.
  • Analyze and evaluate governmental and military reports from policy analysis perspective.

(Social Science concentration)

Policy Analysis in National Security: Selected Case Histories (.5 unit)
This course uses past cases of RAND research to illustrate and discuss principles and challenges arising in national security work, both "hard" and "soft." The cases will cover project formulation with the sponsor (e.g., genesis of the project, defining the problem), designing the research approach (defining the tasks, building the team, and coping with budget constraints), analytical methods and tools, synthesis, write-up, and communication with the sponsor and other government and other non-government audiences. There will also be discussion about how and when such studies have, or do not have, effects, whether immediate or over the longer term, and whether direct or indirect. The cases have been chosen in part because they cross bureaucratic, analytic, or academic boundaries—including political, military, or/and economic—across "stovepipes" within the Department of Defense; and across agencies of government, including DoD, State, Homeland Security Treasury, or/and the Intel community.

(Social Science concentration)

Principles in Client-based Policy Analysis (1 unit)
The main premise of this course is that policy analysis (in contrast to policy research) is inextricably linked to client relationships. A second premise is that some analysis is better than no analysis, and that policy analysts are often asked to confront difficult policy issues with far fewer resources at their disposal than they would like.

To improve the quality of public policy decisions, policy analysts must cultivate clients, often serving as their counselors and confidantes. At the same time, policy analysts must not compromise the integrity of their work and work products. Balancing client needs while maintaining professional standards can often be challenging, and at times even infuriating. This tension can be exacerbated when time and other resources are in short supply.

To improve the quality of public policy decisions, policy analysts must cultivate clients, often serving as their counselors and confidantes. At the same time, policy analysts must not compromise the integrity of their work and work products. Balancing client needs while maintaining professional standards can often be challenging, and at times even infuriating. This tension can be exacerbated when time and other resources are in short supply. This course will explore ways to develop and maintain good client relationships and to conduct "quick and dirty" analyses that allow the analyst to both meet client expectations and to maintain their personal and professional integrity. Specifically, the course will:

  • Acquaint students with various tricks of the trade for conducting quick turn around work.
  • Suggest various ways to develop and maintain strong and productive client relationships.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to step outside of RAND and to participate in a short-term project with a local client. students will conduct these assignments in teams of three. The products of these client engagements will be both a briefing and a memorandum.

(Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science concentration)

Program Evaluation (.5 unit)
Not all policies or programs "work" and a significant amount of money is spent to evaluate them. This course will teach you the tools used to determine whether programs and policies achieve their objectives. This course focuses on the design and implementation of formative and summative evaluations of programs and policies including assessment of fidelity to a model and assessment of impact. This short course is interactive, with a mix of lecture and student led discussion to provide examples and applications of course concepts.

(Social Science concentration)

Publication Workshop (.5 unit)
This workshop is about the art and craft of scientific writing and the process of journal publication. My teaching goals in this course are:

  • To help students strengthen their writing skills;
  • To introduce students to the journal review process;
  • To teach students how to write good article reviews;
  • To help students choose the right outlet for their work;
  • To help students publish their work in peer-reviewed journals;
  • To help students prepare a conference presentation.

(Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science concentration)

Qualitative Research II (.5 unit)
This course focuses on the use of one of the most basic qualitative techniques—the semi-structured interview. We will cover all the basic stages for effectively using semi-structured interviews, including: formulating a comparative research question, developing frameworks and interview protocols, conducting interviews, managing and analyzing interview data, and presenting the results. This is a hands-on course and each participant is expected to develop their own research project. Classes will be dived between methodological discussions and in-class presentations to demonstrate each of the data collection and analysis steps.

(Social Science concentration)

Quality Assessment/Making the Business Case for Quality (.5 unit)
The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the principles of quality assessment, health status, and how to improve value in health care at both the policy and operational level. At the completion of the course students will be required to write a paper that would be addressed either to the President of the United States, a CEO of a health system, or the head of a health services research agency who is trying to produce new knowledge about improving value in the U.S. health system.

(Social Science concentration)

Research Methods in Empirical Economics (1 unit)
This course will go through the nuts and bolts of how to do research in order to successfully write a dissertation or publish research to include where to get data, how to structure a paper, and how to use econometrics to make the paper more convincing. The new course would build upon some of the skills developed in Labor Economics and capture what the students were looking for when they asked for a follow-on, but hopefully also draw in other advanced students who may not have taken that course.

(Economic Analysis concentration)

Risk Assessment (.5 unit)
The methods of risk analysis provide tools and processes for helping policy makers decide what problems to address, how to address them and in which order to do so. They have been applied across diverse topics that are reflected in RAND research including public health, infrastructure design, acquisition management, and homeland security. This course introduces concepts of risk analysis and tools that can be used in all stages of risk analysis. Tools will be introduced using policy relevant case studies as examples.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)

Robust Decision Making (.5 unit)
Over the last decade RAND researchers have been at the forefront of developing new quantitative approaches to informing decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty. These Robust Decision Making methods seek to identify and assess policies that perform well over a wide range of plausible futures. Such robustness is often achieved through adaptivity, that is, evolving over time in response to new information. This course will introduce these robust decision making methods, situate them among a variety of approaches which address robustness and ambiguity in decision making, and present some applications of their use.

(Quantitative Methods concentration)

Select Topics in Organizational Behavior: Groups in Organizations (.5 unit)
Organizational behavior is a distinct academic field that draws from myriad disciplines, including sociology, psychology, anthropology, and economics. It examines individual and group dynamics within an organization, or may focus on the behavior of organizations themselves as distinct entities. Unlike other academic fields that describe these dynamics and behaviors, organizational behavior also endeavors to apply this knowledge to improve organizational effectiveness. In academic settings, it is often studied and taught within business schools, where the emphasis is often (but not always) on work within private sector, for-profit organizations. It can be more broadly applied to a wide variety of contexts, and in this course, this premise will be supported through a review of theory and research related to the behavior of groups in organizations. While groups research addresses both intragroup and intergroup relations, including those of groups formed for purposes other than work, this course will focus on the behavior within work groups. The goals of this course are to expose you to scientific research on each group process-oriented topic and to illustrate how such research can be applied to "real world" work-related contexts, be they in government, the military, other non-profit organizations, or the private sector, so you will be better informed as a policy researcher, group member, and group manager. Pre-requisite: Social science methods course. Students with previous course work related to psychology, sociology, or related disciplines may also qualify with the instructor's approval.

(Social Science concentration)

Social Determinants of Health (.5 unit)
This course will analyze studies of health outcomes including, but not limited to morbidity, mortality, and subjective health status. The main purpose is to provide students with an understanding of how social factors are related to the health of populations (i.e., the causes of incidence, rather than the causes of cases) and how they contribute to gender, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities. We will also examine the ways in which neighborhood and community context, as well as inequalities in socioeconomic status materially shape health. These research topics are not constrained to a single discipline but represent a confluence of interdisciplinary research streams covering the diverse fields of public health, social demography, medical sociology, public policy, health economics, and social epidemiology. As such, this field of research is on the cutting edge of interdisciplinary efforts t o establish new and innovative methods, theory, and guiding principles and is fast becoming an area of urgent emphasis by current NIH research directives. The purpose of this course will be to understand and engage active debates, competing theories, and empirical models to identify possible areas for substantive research contributions. Pre-requisite: General grasp of empirical research and research methods, including the general linear and generalized linear models. Students should be able to read both empirical and theoretical research articles.

(Social Science concentration)
Pre-requisite: General grasp of empirical research and research methods, including the general linear and generalized linear models. Students should be able to read both empirical and theoretical research articles.

Social Network Analysis (1 unit)
Network analysis has grown in prominence over the past fifteen to twenty years, moving from a largely academic pursuit to one with applications in business strategy and organizational behavior, public health and health systems, international affairs and international security, and counterterrorism and homeland security, to name a few. As such, its policy relevance has grown immensely and will likely continue to increase as new analytic methods are developed and understanding of the approach grows.

This elective course introduces social network analysis methods, theories, and applications, focusing on complete, ego-centered, and personal network approaches. We will explore how social network analysis developed from and contributes to the behavioral sciences in general, and specifically to the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, political science, public health, graph theory and statistics. The course will consist of lecture and laboratory exercises. Lectures will introduce social network concepts, theories and applications. Laboratory exercises will introduce methods in a hands-on manner. Individual work will allow students to explore the ways social network analysis can enhance their own research. Please be prepared to discuss reading assignments and concepts in lecture and to participate in lab exercises.

(Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science concentrations)
Pre-requisite: A general understanding of social science research design and methods of data collection is required for this course. Thus, students are expected to have completed the majority of the PRGS core curriculum, particularly Social Science Methods and Qualitative Research Methods. Without these prerequisites, permission of the instructor is required. Specific knowledge of social network concepts is not required; however, initial discussions with class members will help focus the technical level and substantive focus of the course.

Transportation Planning and Policy in the U.S. (.5 unit)
How responsibilities for transportation investments are divided among local, regional, state, and federal bodies and how these organizations perspectives differ. Evolution of transportation policy over time (over 200 years). Fundamental differences among nations in transportation policy—the U.S. versus, England, New Zealand, Scandinavian Countries, developing nations (India and China). Return on investment in infrastructure and principles that can be applied to financing transportation. User fees and hypothecation versus general fund financing. Measuring the performance of transportation systems and using performance indicators in resource allocation. The growing fiscal crisis in transportation. Evolution of Federal transportation policy and laws. Appropriations, federal funding formulas and local/state/federal funding disputes. The role of public-private partnerships. Earmarking in transportation programs. Dealing with externalities: case studies of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Multimodalism: how can policy reflect balance between automobile oriented societies and the need for alternatives like transit and cycling? How can societies balance the needs for goods movement against those for people movement? Advocacy groups, politics and analysis in transportation—the example of regional comprehensive transportation planning.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)

Workshop on Quantitative Methods and Education (1 unit)
students study a selection of advanced quantitative analyses of policy topics in K-12 and higher education, with an emphasis on public-private cooperation in education. Topics include measuring productivity and outcomes at all levels of education as well as public and private finance of education. These basic topics lead to an examination of the implications of portable financial aid in higher education and vouchers in K-12. Part of the quarter is devoted to guiding each student through a small but complete empirical research project using computer databases introduced in class by the professors. students employ microeconomics, econometrics, and statistics throughout the course.

(Quantitative Methods and Social Science concentrations)


Course selection is subject to change. Some elective courses are not offered every year, and seminar topics may vary from year to year.

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