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Foundations of Public Policy

Enhance your capacity to engage effectively in the policy process

Fiscal crises force us to examine our priorities and consider trade-offs among various policy problems and alternatives. In such times, it is more important than ever for policy actors in local and state government to understand how to effectively engage in the process-whether your role is developing policy options, responding to proposals from the policy community or implementing policy changes. This distinctive program exposes you to disciplinary tools and concepts that inform the policy process, and provides opportunities to apply your learning to contemporary issues and problems facing California. Learn from experts with direct experience in public policy and hone your capacity to:

  • Ask the right questions and identify the strategic issues involved in complex policy problems
  • Envision a comprehensive range of policy options
  • Understand how to evaluate the expected benefits of various policy alternatives
  • Anticipate issues likely to arise during policy deliberations
  • Deliver effective public testimony

Designed for professionals like you
This program is designed for those who work directly or indirectly in the policy sphere and would benefit from a broader foundation in public policy as a discipline and a process. We especially invite participation from department and agency directors, branch chiefs, program directors and managers, program consultants, fiscal and budget officers, finance analysts, public affairs officers and legislative staff.


Friday, October 12
Minding the Process and Content of Policy
Peter Detwiler
Understand when an idea’s time has come and how you can influence agendas and alternatives.  Explore frameworks to guide your thinking about both the process and content of policy.

Saturday, October 13
Economics and Public Policy
Robert. W. Wassmer
Analyze the principles of economic reasoning and their application to public policy.  Learn why markets sometimes fail, mechanisms for government intervention, and how to compare and prioritize policy options using economic analysis.  Emphasis is on underlying economic concepts as well as specific techniques for analyzing policy from an economic lens.

Friday, October 26
Paying for Public Services in a Voter-Constrained Environment
Marianne O’Malley & Brad Williams
Examine the principles of public finance, including different mechanisms for funding public services and the rationale and requirements for their use.  Understand the current state budget context in California, key dimensions of state-local fiscal relations, and potential fiscal reforms.

Saturday, October 27
Using Research to Effectively Guide the Policy Process
Steve Boilard
Explore the use and misuse of research in the policy process, and discover how well-designed research helps to define problems, identify potential solutions and guide effective implementation.  Emphasis is on being an effective consumer of data generated by the policy research community.

Collaborative Policymaking
Jeff Loux
Learn theory, approaches and techniques for how collaborative policymaking can be used to develop lasting agreements in contentious and complex environments.

Friday, November 16
Designing an Effective Policy Proposal
Peter Detwiler
Learn why some proposals succeed when others fail, how to anticipate objections and how to successfully communicate your own policy proposals verbally and in writing. Gain hands-on practice in policy memo writing, as well as an insider’s view on how the legislative process really works.

Saturday, November 17
Mock Hearing
Ken DaRosa
This session will be held at the State Capitol
Hone your skills in delivering effective testimony in a realistic and non-threatening environment. Participants are assigned to represent a specific policy proposal as a team, and gain critical feedback from capitol insiders with extensive legislative hearing experience.

Learn from policy insiders

We've assembled an exceptional team of speakers never before available in a single program to provide a range of perspectives that will enrich your learning experience.

This course is not currently scheduled.
Please notify me the next time this course is offered.



Download the course brochure.

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Earn a Certificate

This course is part of these certificate programs:

Land Use and Environmental Planning