The fall and winter terms are divided into two 6-week modules. Each Core Policy Course is 6 weeks long (6 hours per week), and worth 3 program credits. Students take only two courses at once. Each course is custom-designed for the MPP program and combines the theory of policy with many applied examples and exercises.
This course provides the essential microeconomic principles for analyzing the consequences of government policies. Emphasis is placed on contrasting competitive markets with oligopolistic and monopolistic ones. The case for relatively free markets is examined, as are the many situations that suggest a case for government intervention. A central theme is that government policies involve important tradeoffs, and understanding them is an essential part of the contribution that economic analysis can make to policymaking.
Instructor: Sonia Laszlo
This course compares the structures of government and policy processes in a number of developed democracies including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The course will address the relationship between the political and bureaucratic structures, the civil service, the role of citizens, stakeholders, lobbyists, policy institutes and legislators, and the policy development process.
This course explores law as the normative framework for public policy. Law is examined as both a policy driver and a policy outcome for resolving conflict and determining the institutional and policy legitimacy. The course takes a critical perspective on the impacts of major Western legal systems on other systems and cultures, and explores how international law and transnational law address some of these challenges. The course also provides basic legal literacy tools, focusing on human rights and human rights-based approaches.
Instructor: Pearl Eliadis, Adjunct Professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law
The design and implementation of public policy are highly intricate and complex manifestations of human rationality. They involve making choices in contexts that are far from optimal. These contexts involve time constraints, risk and uncertainty, trade-offs, and a mixing of different kinds of considerations, to do for example with ethics and with efficiency. This course will investigate what is involved in reasoning well about public policy. We will consider some of the heuristic tools that have been developed in order to engage in this exercise -- cost-benefit analysis, harm reduction, the precautionary principle, compromise, "ideal observer" -- and, through the use of case studies try to determine what the appropriate sphere of application is, and how they can be brought together into an overall, coherent conception of practical rationality in the policy context.
Instructor: Daniel Weinstock
The objective evaluation of the impact and costs of policies is essential for their continued improvement over time. This course focuses on the concepts and analytical techniques necessary for the evaluation of specific public policies, including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Specific topics include sampling theory, applied regression analysis, the use of surveys and interviews, and randomized controlled trials.
Instructor: Erin Strumpf
This course focuses on the need for and the practice of rigorous program evaluation for the improvement of public policies. Specific analytical tools will be examined, including logic models, stakeholder engagement and reporting, data collection, performance indicators, and cost-benefit analysis.
This course develops and assembles the key elements of a macro model used by mainstream policymakers in central banks and finance ministries. It then uses this theoretical perspective to examine important and contentious policy issues, such as the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus, the consequences of high government debt, the case for low inflation, the challenges of inflation targeting, and the policy approaches to enhancing long-run economic growth.
Instructor: Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado
This course examines the development, role, and impact of mass media on the policy process. It includes an exploration of the nature of the role of the media in shaping public opinion, policy agendas, and political debate; the use of information in new communications technology; and the relationship between news media and social media in the digital information age.
Instructor: Taylor Owen
This course examines the role of experts, science, evidence and their utility for public policy. In theory, science is cleanly self-correcting, autonomous, and objective. In practice, it is messy, socially embedded, and subject to bias. This course surveys how policy leaders can grapple with this reality by exploring the theory of science, scientific evidence in practice, evidence in the marketplace of ideas and human fallibility.
Instructor: Nicholas King, Associate Professor in McGill's Biomedical Ethics Unit
Students will select one of the following:
Canada’s ten provinces and three territories are united under one of the world’s most decentralized federations. Key public policy programs are delivered at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government — creating challenges for effective public administration and policymaking. This course examines the complexities of the Canadian policy landscape resulting from these arrangements which are further enriched by a Westminster parliamentary system, multiple major political parties spanning the political spectrum, the relationship to the Crown and the historical treaties with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and Quebec’s Francophone culture and status as a nation within Canada.
Instructor: Chantal Hébert, Political columnist with the Toronto Star and a weekly participant on CBC’s The National “At Issue” panel.
As a federal republic with the President, Congress and the federal courts sharing the powers of the national government, the U.S. political landscape is complex. This complexity is enhanced by the federal government sharing power with 50 states and the domination of the political landscape by only two major political parties. With significant primary races and biennial elections at different levels of government, the U.S. political system is dynamic. This course examines the complexities arising from the dynamism of the U.S. political landscape and provides students with the knowledge to formulate policies which take into account these realities.
Instructor: David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
Policymaking at the global level is multidimensional and driven by governance structures and regulatory regimes that extend beyond nation states. The United Nations with its fifteen specialized agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and the International Labour Organization includes 193 member states and impacts global policymaking in areas such as fiscal policy, health, international development, climate change, and refugees resettlement. This course will introduce students to the body of applied research on how policy is formulated in the global policy landscape and provide them with the necessary skills to be policy leaders in this context.
Instructor: Jennifer Welsh, Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance & Security, McGill University