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The Politics of Policy-Making: National and International Challenges



The course is an introduction to the politics of policy-making at national and international level. Understanding the dynamics behind policy-making is indispensable to grasp questions relevant to our every-day life: What issues capture the attention of the policy-makers and why? How are decisions taken? Are decisions taken rationally? What is the role of experts? Is lobbying a positive expression of interest representation or did lobbyists take over our democracy? Is secrecy necessary and justifiable in some cases? We will discuss these and other questions during the course. Students will analyze different stages of the policy-cycle and explore the roles played by different actors in the process. The seminars will also focus on lobbying, the role of expertise and evidence, as well as on accountability and democratic legitimacy. In scrutinizing these concepts, we will draw on recent examples of policy-making and engage with practitioners from both the public and private sector in order to hear about their experiences and discuss current challenges in the policy-making world. Students will also be asked to prepare problem-based assignments, linked to the academic literature on the topic.

Course objectives

Upon the successful completion of the course, the students should be able to:
1) Understand the main aspects of politics in policy-making, both in the domestic and international setting
2) Understand and critically assess the actors and their role in policy-making process
3) Understand the principles and ethics of interest representation

Methods of instruction and communication

The course will be composed of seminars, where students active participation is encouraged. Students are required to read the assigned literature before the seminars and prepare the assignments.

Study material

Readings will be assigned mainly from the scholarly journals available via the university library. We will also discuss several chapters from the following textbook:
Versluis E., van Keulen M. and Stephenson P. (2011) Analyzing the European Union Policy Process, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Birkland, T. (2016) An Introduction to the Policy Process. Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making, London: Routledge. *Fourth Edition

The coursebook with assigned readings will be available on Blackboard in October.

Assessment method

20% Participation, 80% final “take-home” exam.