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Teaching public policy theories and analysis in continuing education courses

Following up from my previous post on what do you use to teach institutional analysis and public policy theories when faced with a different set of students (in this case, continuing education learners), I just wanted to add a couple of notes here. First, that I find this kind of teaching challenging as it often makes me wonder whether I am being clear on concepts that aren’t easy to grasp. One of the biggest challenges is to teach the concept of institutions, which are invisible and thus become a nebulous idea, and how organizations aren’t institutions. This conceptual confusion is frequent and has led to more than one student looking at me quizzically asking “uh… federalism as an institution?”

Diplomado Alta Direccion y Gerencia Publica 2014 CIDE Region Centro

This is an important issue and one that we don’t seem to be discussing enough. I Google’d “teaching public policy theories in continuing education” and I got ZERO results. You would think this would be discussed in a journal like the Journal of Political Science Education, or the Journal of Public Affairs Education.

Normally, I would teach Public Policy Theory using anything from Mike Howlett (like the Howlett and Ramesh classic), or Peter John’s book on public policy, or Paul Cairney’s. Right now I’m inclined to use (and I’ve already successfully used) Tanya Heikkila and Paul Cairney’s book chapter in the recent Weible and Sabatier (Theories of the Policy Process). But I wonder if there’s something much simpler for continuing education students.

I’d appreciate any and all suggestions!

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