IDS.410J | Spring 2013 | Graduate

Modeling and Assessment for Policy

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course IDS.410J Modeling and Assessment for Policy as it was taught by Prof. Noelle Selin in Spring 2013.

Modeling and Assessment for Policy is a graduate course that introduces students to tools and strategies for technically-focused policy analysis. The course is cross-listed with the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and draws examples from modeling of earth and environmental systems.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Understand and apply tools and techniques used for technically-focused policy analysis
  • Identify best practices and limitations in using quantitative models for policy
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of scientific and technical advice in policy-making processes
  • Describe and analyze strategies to manage scientific and technical advice processes
  • Communicate technical results to policy audiences

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

  • Ongoing research in areas of modeling e.g. science, engineering, economics
  • Careers in interpreting scientific results for decision-making

Curriculum Information


ESD.10 Introduction to Technology and Policy or permission of the instructor

Requirements Satisfied

IDS.410J is a core course for both the Technology and Policy Program and the Graduate Certificate Program in Science, Technology, and Policy. The course can be applied toward a graduate degree in the Engineering Systems Division or the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, but is not required.


Every spring semester

Student Information


26 students

Breakdown by Year

Graduate students, including Master’s and PhD candidates

Breakdown by Major

  • Half graduate students in Engineering Systems Division
  • Half graduate students in other departments, include Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science, MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Writing and Humanistic Studies, and Technology and Operations Management at Harvard Business School

Typical Student Background

An interest in technically-focused policy analysis

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 9 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Two class sessions per week, each lasting an hour and a half; 27 sessions total.
  • Attendance is mandatory and is reflected in the “Participation” portion of the grading scheme.

Out of Class

Activities such as:

Course Team Roles

Lead Instructor (Prof. Noelle Selin)

Structure and run the course, deliver lectures, design the group activities, work with students and teaching assistants, and provide feedback

Teaching Assistants (Two graduate students)

Support the lead instructor during class sessions; grade the problem sets; interact with students in class, via email and on the class forum; and maintain the course website.