Overview of the course - the faculty, objectives, format, and requirements. First lectures: Knowledge use in theory and practice, perspectives from inside and outside academia.


Models of knowledge production and decision-making

The rational policy/planning model, muddling through, deliberation and social learning. (PDF)

Friedmann, John. Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987, pp. 51-85. ISBN: 9780691022680.

Meyerson, Martin, and Edward Banfield. Politics, Planning, and the Public Interest. New York, NY: Free Press, 1964, pp. 303-329.

Peirce, Charles S. “The Fixation of Belief.” Popular Science Monthly 12 (1877): 1-15.

Lindblom, Charles E. “The Science of Muddling Through.” Public Administration Review 19 (1959): 79-88.

Scott, James. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, pp. 87-90 and 309-319. ISBN: 9780300078152.


Agendas and the policy process

The importance of agenda-setting and other “pre-decision” processes in policymaking. The Kingdon model and its critics; the role of narrative. (PDF)

Kingdon, John. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Longman, 2002, pp. 1-19, 48-74, and 205-215. ISBN: 9780321121851.

Wilensky, Harold. “Can Social Science Shape the Public Agenda?” Contexts (Spring 2005): 41-47.

Moore, Mark. “What Sort of Ideas Become Public Ideas?” In The Power of Public Ideas. Edited by Robert Reich. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp. 55-83. ISBN: 9780674695900.

Sabatier, Paul ed. “Fostering the Development of Policy Theory.” In Theories of the Policy Process. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2007, pp. 261-275. ISBN: 9780813343594.


Frames and persuasion

Storytelling, metaphor, and frames. Alignment among frames, institutional context, and policy and political streams (PDF)

Guest: Jal Mehta, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Mehta, Jal. The Transformation of American Educational Policy: Ideas and the Rise of Accountability Politics. In progress, 2006.

Stone, Deborah. Policy Paradox and Political Reason. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1988, pp. 108-137 and 148-165. ISBN: 9780673397515.

Baumgartner, Frank, and Bryan Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993, pp. 25-38 and 83-89. ISBN: 9780226039398.

Schon, Donald, and Martin Rein. Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995, chapter 2. ISBN: 9780465025121.

“The Framing Wars.” New York Times Magazine, July 17, 2005.

The Frameworks Institute

March, James, and Johan Olsen. “The Logic of Appropriateness.” In The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. Edited by Michael Moran, Martin Rein, and Robert Goodin. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780199269280.

Schon, Donald. “Generative Metaphor: A Perspective on Problem Setting in Social Policy.” In Metaphor and Thought. 2nd ed. Edited by Andrew Ortony. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN: 9780521405614.


Paradigms and fads

Design and urban form, urban utopias, popular culture and the Good City. (PDF)

Guest: Lawrence Vale, MIT

Fishman, Robert. “Urban Utopias: Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier.” In Readings in Planning Theory. 2nd ed. Edited by Scott Campbell and Susan Fainstein. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2003. ISBN: 9780631223474.

Jacobs, Jane. “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Introductory chapter in Readings in Planning Theory. 2nd ed. Edited by Scott Campbell and Susan Fainstein. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2003. ISBN: 9780631223474.

Isenstadt, Sandy. “Image Renewal.” In Imaging the City. Edited by Lawrence J. Vale and Sam Bass Warner, Jr. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research, pp. 213-235, 2001. ISBN: 9780882851709.

Warner, Sam Bass, Jr., and Lawrence J. Vale. “Introduction: Cities, Media, and Imaging.” In Imaging the City. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research, pp. xiii-xxiii, 2001. ISBN: 9780882851709.

Fainstein, Susan. “New Directions in Planning Theory.” Urban Affairs Review 35 (2000): 451-478.


Diffusion of innovation

Creating and diffusing innovation, “structured” diffusion, replication and mimicking. (PDF)

Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Boston, MA: Back Bay Books, 2000, chapter 2. ISBN: 9780316346627.

Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. 5th ed. New York, NY: Free Press, 2003, chapters 1, 5, and 8. ISBN: 9780743222099.

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg,” The New Yorker, January 1999.


Case of anti-poverty policy and research

The Moving to Opportunity experiment as a social policy case, political and fiscal context, images of ghetto poverty, the Hurricane Katrina media effect. (PDF)

Guest: Jeffrey Liebman, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Brooks, David. “Katrina’s Silver Lining,” The New York Times, September 8, 2005.

Orr, et al. “Executive Summary.” In MTO Interim Impacts Evaluation. Washington, DC: U.S. HUD, 2003.

Hilsenrath, Jon. “How Much Does a Neighborhood Affect the Poor?” The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2006.

MIT Communications Office. “How to Work With the News Media to Tell Your Story.” (Workshop materials, scroll down to Powerpoint® presentation and two sample press releases.)


Science in environmental policy disputes

Science-intensive disputes, “experts for hire”, joint fact finding. (PDF)

Guest: Lawrence Susskind, MIT and the Consensus Building Institute

Ehrmann, John R., and Barbara L. Stinson. “Joint Fact Finding and the Use of Technical Experts.” In The Consensus Building Handbook. Edited by Lawrence Susskind, et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1999, pp. 375-399. ISBN: 9780761908449.

Lenard, Steven R., and Ian J. Finlayson. “The Role of the Scientist in Collaborative Environmental Policy Making.” MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative. (PDF)

Amengual, Matthew. “Incorporating Local Knowledge Into Joint Fact Finding.” MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative. (PDF)


Action learning and practice

Action learning, embedded or “social” learning, theories of practice, communities of practice (knowledge networks). (PDF)

Friedmann, John. Planning in the Public Domain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987, chapter 5. ISBN: 9780691022680.

Argyris, Chris. Knowledge for Action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1993, Introduction, pp. 15-31, chapter 2, pp. 98-99. ISBN: 9781555425197.

Snyder, William, and Xavier de Souza Briggs. “Communities of Practice: A New tool.” IBM Center for the Business of Government, pp. 4-25.


The politics and use of evaluation research

Truth tests and utility tests, demonstration theory of social change, media and public consumption. (PDF)

Weiss, Carol H., and Michael Bucuvalas. “Truth Tests and Utility Tests: Decision Makers’ Frames of Reference for Social Science Research.” American Sociological Review 45 (1980): 302-313.

Weiss, Carol H. “The Interface Between Evaluation and Public Policy.” Evaluation 5 (1999): 468-486.

Rossi, Peter, Mark Lipsey, and Howard Freeman. “The Social Context of Evaluation.” Chapter 7 in Evaluation: A Systematic Approach. 7th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004. ISBN: 9780761908944.


Research writing for non-academic readers

Research briefs, communication channels, writing support, editing styles. (PDF)

12 Student briefs and knowledge-in-use cases. (PDF)  
13 Course review.  
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