Commentary by the Atlas editors: The Atlas editors have identified four major subject areas that, together, comprise the core of MPP/MPA learning. One of these subjects is “Democratic Institutions and the Policy Process.” Some MPP programs, including the Harvard Kennedy School, attempt to address this entire subject area within one core course. The University of Toronto’s core curriculum splits this subject up into two core courses, PPG-1001: The Policy Process and PPG-1000: Governance and Institutions.
PPG-1001 examines the processes by which policies are conceived, developed and implemented. This course introduces students to different approaches to analyzing the evolution of public policy, asking them to consider how ideological and political pressures can influence the policy process. Students learn about how a number of factors including cognitive bias, imperfect information, ideology and interest group pressure sometimes leads to policy outcomes that are quite different from what might be predicted by a rational decision-making model.
Although the PM Atlas editors have classified this course under the core subject area “Democratic Institutions and the Policy Process,” this course also introduces students to a number of key topics that are foundational to MPP/MPA learning in other subject areas.
For instance, this course draws heavily on the insights of behavioural economics to explain why various actors inside and outside of government sometimes may not act rationally in their own self-interest. This material provides a foundation to students who wish to study the “Decision Sciences for Public Management” subject area in greater depth. The final seminar of the course deals with the topic “ethics and morality,” which introduces students to the foundational themes of the core MPP subject that we have defined as “Ethics and Accountability,” which are studied in greater depth in PPG-2011 (Ethics of Public Administration).
Student evaluation is based on class participation, a series of short written responses to assigned weekly readings, and two major essays.
Page created by: Ben Eisen, 23 February 2013, updated by Ian Clark 8 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.