In this course, students from a variety of backgrounds—from the biological sciences to public policy—have the opportunity to engage with and consider the implications of cutting-edge research in science and technology policy. We cover a variety of topics, including the history and politics of research funding, intellectual property and the role of the marketplace in scientific and technological development, the politics of knowledge and expertise in science and technology policy, the place of democracy in highly technical policy domains, anticipatory governance of the ethical, social, and environmental implications of science and technology, responsible innovation, the governance of large sociotechnical systems, and the challenges of providing scientific advice for policymaking.

Class time is spent in lectures, discussion, and hands-on simulations. Students also participate actively in a class blog. Students also learn the unique skill of writing for a policy environment; written assignments include Congressional testimony advocating a funding increase in a particular area of research (of the student’s choice) and a multi-part policy or technology assessment that requires students to consider the evidence, values, stakeholders, and tradeoffs involved a particular policy and to make policy recommendations.

You can view a recent syllabus here.

A Student’s Perspective:
“PubPol 650 with Professor Shobita Parthasarathy was my favorite class at the U-M Ford School of Public Policy.  Through her selected texts and style of classroom engagement, my current way of thinking about the U.S. science policy field was challenged and transformed.  Solutions are often derivatives of the ways in which we perceive the problem.  A missed opportunity to understand a problem in a new way or from a new perspective can be a missed opportunity to think more strategically and systematically, and as policymakers I believe this is a critical part of our jobs.  Thanks to this class, I feel I gained a new lens for understanding science policy issues in the U.S. context that can equip me to see new solutions in the future.” --MPP student, 2014.