University of Maryland For-Credit Summer Course in Paris, July 3-20, 2017

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Program Name/Title: UMD-Summer: France: Comparative Policy Analysis and Practical Program Evaluation

Program Dates: July 3-20, 2017

Credit: 3 UMD credits (6 ECTs)


To be held in Paris, France, with the assistance of the Economics Department at Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), this study abroad course provides an overview of the process of policy analysis and of program evaluation in comparative perspective. It could serve as a student’s sole (or stand-alone) course on policy analysis and program evaluation, or it could also supplement other courses on policy analysis and program evaluation that students will take or may have taken. The policy areas to be considered include employment, health, families and children, social policy, pensions, migration, education, and, perhaps, the environment. The course will address these topics for developing as well as developed countries.

As a comparative course, a major theme running through the course is the conduct of policy analysis in various settings because of differences in types of governance, a country or region’s research infrastructure, politics, and culture. In addition, overarching the course is a concern for the moral dimensions of social programs and decision making in the face of substantive uncertainty and political pressures.

The main course instructors will be Douglas J. Besharov and Douglas M. Call. In addition, a number of special guest lecturers will teach various aspects of the course. They include: Neil Gilbert, University of California, Berkeley; Jacob Klerman, Principal Associate, Social and Economic Policy, Abt Associates; Editor, Evaluation Review; David Myers, President and CEO, American Institutes for Research; Anu Rangarajan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, International Research Division, Mathematica Policy Research; and Stefano Scarpetta, Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD.

In the United States, there are two main types of policy analysis courses: (1) one is more akin to political science, and aims to explain why particular policies reach the policy agenda and how one or another is selected; and (2) the other is more program-based, and seeks to identify and apply the programmatic elements of a technical planning process—using the tools of program evaluation. This course adopts the latter, program-based approach, and focuses on four main topics:

(1) Planning programs, including specifying the problem, selecting a theory of change, and designing programs;

(2) Implementing programs, including designing, conducting, and assessing implementation and process evaluations;

(3) Assessing program impacts, including the full range of impact evaluation methodologies (including qualitative, pre/post, comparison group, econometric, randomized experiment, and natural experiment studies); and

(4) Monitoring the ongoing operations of programs, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of performance measures.

Compared to many other courses, this course will spend relatively less time on how to perform regression and other econometric analyses. Instead, it will provide students with a broad understanding of the full range of impact evaluation methodologies (including qualitative, pre/post, comparison group, randomized experiment, and natural experiment studies) and the practical skills needed to assess and apply them.

More information as well as a preliminary syllabus is available on the course web page.

The application period for Summer 2017 registration is now closed. Exemptions, however, may be made for students in certain circumstances. For more information about applying or for questions about the Summer 2018 course, please contact Michael Goodhart ([email protected]).
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