Public Policy | POPU

Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS)

The topic

Public policy evaluation began to develop in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s in order to help governments and their administrations improve their capacities to manage public actions. Public policy’s institutionalisation as an academic discipline began in the 1970s and 1980s, establishing it as a sub-discipline of political science. Its objective was to study the sum of the activities performed and decisions made by State and, more broadly, public organisations, with a view to resolving public problems. Since the 1980s and 1990s, both public and private actors have progressively appropriated the concept for themselves, enabling them to focus their activities within the sectoral public policies that they manage. The term Public Policy has thus spread from the field of research into the worlds of politics and administration.

This re-appropriation of the tools and concepts of public policy evaluation by political and administrative actors contributed significantly to restructuring the functioning of public sector organisations. Furthermore, it also favoured the development and institutionalisation of a more applied line of research: an evaluation of public policy that questions the effectiveness and efficiency of public action by developing ever more sophisticated methodological approaches.

Target audience
  • Students studying for the DAS or MAS in Public Administration (MPA)
  • Employees of federal, cantonal and local public administrations in charge of sectoral public policies
  • Elected politicians holding executive or legislative positions
  • Representatives of the voluntary sector, NGOs and other interest groups
  • Public policy analysts and evaluators
  • Young academics (students, PhD student and teaching assistants)
Teaching methods

Teaching is based on a variety of methodologies, including ex-cathedra lectures, case studies, group activities, discussions and debates. The course is given by Professor Stéphane Nahrath (Public Policy and Sustainability Unit), with the participation of Professor Pirmin Bundi (Day 6 on the evaluation of public policies).

Particular attention will be paid to how participants apply the concepts and notions taught to them in practical exercises. Teaching will be validated by students performing an evaluation of a public policy of their choice.

  • Provide a theoretical definition of the elements constituting a public policy;
  • Present the principal concepts enabling reporting on the different stages (agenda setting, planning, implementation, evaluation) and outputs that constitute a public policy;
  • Reconstruct the rationale for action (i.e. how public policy program operates to solve the public problem);
  • Enable participants to apply the different concepts learned on concrete cases (term paper);
  • Provide an introduction to the challenges and methods of evaluating public policy.
Practical information and Registration
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Course Manager:
Prof. Stéphane Nahrath
+41 21 692 68 01

Studies Secretariat:
Fatma Yavavli
+41 21 692 69 17

Rue de la Mouline 28 - CH-1022 Chavannes-près-Renens
Tel. +41 21 692 68 00
Fax +41 21 692 68 09