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PPG2014H: Topics in Public Policy: Science and Public Policy

Course Description

The course PPG2014 “The Role of Science in Public Policy,” bridges the gap between the many public policy decisions that are informed by science.

Whether we plan to develop policies related to the environment (e.g. climate change), public health (e.g. vaccination, diet), technology (e.g. artificial intelligence), labour (e.g. worker protection from chemical and physical agents), or food safety (e.g. genetically modified crops) we need to understand what the science tells us about these subjects and we also need to know how to apply this information to policy development.  Yet, in spite of the important role that science plays in the formulation of sound public policy, there are few courses and resources to guide the policy practitioner who isn’t also a scientist.   This course is intended to bridge that gap.

In this course students will discuss how science is commonly used in the crafting of public policy, what are the strengths and limitations of using science in public policy, the nature of the knowledge obtained through the scientific method, how to assess the strengths and weaknesses of scientific studies, how science interacts with societal values in the crafting of public policy, and how to communicate science-based policies to the public.

Fall (2nd year)

Maurice Bitran