International Summer School on Public Policy - Nairobi Edition 20-24 April, 2020

Course 1: Historical Institutionalism and Public Policy by Grace Skogstad

This course will discuss how to design and execute a research project that uses a historical institutionalist approach to explain public policy development. The course will review the mechanics of research design; differentiate among structural, institutional, ideational, and psychological accounts; and identify the main concepts and causal mechanisms that historical institutional approaches use to explain public policy developments over time. Particular attention is given to how policies, once in place, have the potential to yield material, interpretive, and organizational feedback effects that reinforce or undermine them over time. 


Course 2: Policy Design by Prof. Guy Peters

This course will examine the process of policy design.  All policies are designed, whether implicitly or explicitly.  Designing involves the identification of policy problems, the selection of policy instruments, the evaluation of policy outcomes, and the development of the means of intervention into social and economic processes.  The course will examine each of these four elements of design, and link them to major theoretical approaches to public policy.


Course 3: Studying the politics of Policy Processes  by Philippe Zittoun
This course focuses on how to study Policy Processes by mobilising different qualitative perspectives, from Constructivist to Pragmatic Approaches. Its main objective is to identify and discuss how we can empirically and methodologically grasp the policy process by observing and defining the struggles around the problem but also around the meaning of proposed solutions. Special attention will be paid to the building of coalitions, existing powerful dimensions, and the different challenges solutions encountered along their path. Why do some solutions manage to make it to the decision-making process whereas others fail? Under what conditions and at what price do solutions make it to the solution agenda? How do some actors succeed in "domesticating" "wicked" problems? First, this course will explore the career of a public problem, from emergence to agenda setting.  Second, it will explore the career of the proposal as it passes through different arenas such as bureaucracy, the advice system, and the political arena. Policy problems and solutions will be observed on the basis of three games: the game of language where a statement takes on meaning and becomes a problem/solution, the game of actors where this definition is stabilized through coalition building, and the game of power through the formation of multiple levels of power. The course will draw on the studies undertaken by key authors in the field and will explore how they perceive the political dimension in the policy process. It will also propose different concepts and approaches to help grasp the policy process from a different perspective.