IDS.410J | Spring 2013 | Graduate

Modeling and Assessment for Policy


[Silver] = Silver, Nate. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t. Penguin Press HC, 2012. ISBN: 9781594204111.

1 Introduction

Morgan, M. G. “Technically Focused Policy Analysis.” Chapter 7 in The Science of Science Policy: A Handbook. Edited by Kaye Fealing ed. Stanford Business Books, 2011. ISBN: 9780804770781.

[Silver] Introduction and Chapter 1.

Marcus, Gary, and Ernest Davis. “What Nate Silver Gets Wrong,” The New Yorker, January 25, 2013.

2 Science Policy Review

Jasanoff, Sheila. “Is Science Socially Constructed—And Can it Still Inform Public Policy?Science and Engineering Ethics 2, no. 3 (1996): 263–76.

Lubchenco, Jane. “Entering the Century of the Environment: A New Social Contract for Science.” Science 279, no. 5350 (1998): 491–7.

Optional reading for those without previous science policy experience:

Sabatier, Paul A., ed. Theories of the Policy Process. Westview Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780813399850.

3 Verification and Validation

Roy, Christopher J., and William L. Oberkampf. “A Comprehensive Framework for Verification, Validation, and Uncertainty Quantification in Scientific Computing.” Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering 200, no. 25 (2011): 2131–44.

Oreskes, Naomi, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, et al. “Verification, Validation, and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences.” Science 263, no. 5147 (1994): 641–6.


Sargent, Robert G. “Verification and Validation of Simulation Models.” In Proceedings of the 30th conference on Winter Simulation, pp. 121–30. IEEE Computer Society Press, 1998.

4 Evaluating Assessments

Farrell, A. E., J. Jäger, and S. D. VanDeveer. “Overview: Understanding Design Choices.” Chapter 1 in Assessments of Regional and Global Environmental Risks: Designing Processes for the Effective use of Science in Decisionmaking. Edited by Alexander E. Farrell, and Jill Jäger, eds. Routledge, 2005. ISBN: 9781933115054. [Preview with Google Books]

Eckley, Noelle, William Clark, A. Farrell, Jill Jaeger, and David Stanners. Designing Effective Assessments: The Role of Participation, Science and Governance, and Focus. Vol. 26. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2001.

Murphy, Allan H. “What is a Good Forecast? An Essay on the Nature of Goodness in Weather Forecasting.” Weather and Forecasting 8, no. 2 (1993): 281–93.

[Silver] Chapter 4.


Case Study: Acid Rain in Europe

Case Study: Fisheries

Tuinstra, Willemijn, LeenHordijk, and Markus Amann. “Using Computer Models in International Negotiations: The Case of Acidification in Europe.” Environment 41, no. 9 (1999): 33–42.

Hordijk, Leen. “Use of the RAINS Models in Acid Rain Negotiations in Europe.” Environmental Science and Technology 25, no. 4 (1991): 596–603.

Tuinstra, Willemijn, LeenHordijk, et al. “Moving Boundaries in Transboundary Air Pollution Co-Production of Science and Policy Under the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.” Global Environmental Change 16, no. 4 (2006): 349–63.

Eckley, Noelle. “Dependable Dynamism: Lessons for Designing Scientific Assessment Processes in Consensus Negotiations.” Glo_bal Environmental Change_ 12, no. 1 (2002): 15–23.

Botsford, Louis W., Juan Carlos Castilla, et al. “The Management of Fisheries and Marine Ecosystems.” Science 277, no. 5325 (1997): 509–15.

Lee, Kai N. “Appraising Adaptive Management.” Conservation Ecology 3, no. 2 (1999): 3.

McLain, Rebecca J., and Robert G. Lee. “Adaptive Management: Promises and Pitfalls.” Environmental Management 20, no. 4 (1996): 437–48.

Marshall, Michael. “Radical Reforms Might Not Save Europe’s Fish Stocks.” New Scientist, February 7, 2013.

Dickie, Mure. “Scottish Fishermen Pin Hope on EU Reform,” Financial Times, February 19, 2013.


Humanitarian Logistics

Guest Lecturer: Jarrod Goentzel, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab

Darcy, James, and C. Hofmann. “According to Need?: Needs Assessment and Decision-Making in the Humanitarian Sector.” (PDF) Humanitarian Policy Group Report 15 (2003): 5.

  • Chapter 3: The practice of needs assessment
  • Optional: Chapter 1: Introduction and background


Case Study: Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Guest Lecturer: Susan Solomon, MIT Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate Science

Collins, William, Robert Colman, et al. “The Physical Science Behind Climate Change.” Scientific American 297, no. 2 (2007): 64–73.

Hegerl, Gabriele, Francis Zwiers, et al. “Patterns of Change: Whose Fingerprint is Seen in Gobal Warming?Environmental Research Letters 6, no. 4 (2011): 044025.


Energy Modeling Workshop

Guest Lecturer: Travis Franck, Climate Interactive

Gates, Bill. Bill Gates: Innovating to zero!. February 2010.

(Travis Franck mentions this presentation in his lecture and we discussed its flaws.)



Guest Lecturer: Stephen Zoepf, MIT Sloan Auto Lab

Material Specific to Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

Energy Policy and Conservation Act (PDF) (1975).  
Suggest skimming sections 32902(a), 32902(b), 32902(c), and 32902(f).

Energy Independence and Security Act  (PDF) (2007).  
Suggest skimming Title I, Subtitle A, and Section 102(a) (on pp. 7–9 of pdf).

[Corporate Average Fuel Economy for MY 2012-MY 2016 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, Final Regulatory Analysis, NHTSA (PDF - 2.5MB)]. August 2009.  
Suggest reading Executive Summary and skimming pp. 108–17, 134–9, 161–72, 285–90, 309–12, 358–9, 403–17, 555–8, 563–7, 578, and 606–7.

Material Establishing General Principles for Regulatory Impact Analysis

“Regulatory Impact Analysis: A Primer.” (PDF) Office of Management and Budget.  
Suggest skimming pp. 9–15.

Circular A-4.” Office of Management and Budget.

Suggest skimming these sections:

  • Different Degrees of Stringency
  • Different Requirements for Different Sized Firms
  • Different Requirements for Different Geographic Regions
  • Performance Standards Rather than Design Standards
  • Market-Oriented Approaches Rather than Direct Controls
  • Developing Benefit and Cost Estimates

Clinton, Bill. “Regulatory Planning and Review.” (PDF) Executive Order 12866, 30 September 1993.  
Suggest skimming Section 1 (pp. 1–2).


Class Case 1: NASA’s Model Standards

Discussion Across Cases

Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.
11 Energy Modeling Simulation No readings for this session.
12 System Modeling

Buy at MIT Press De Weck, Olivier L., Daniel Roos, and Christopher L. Magee. Chapter 5 in Engineering Systems: Meeting Human Needs in a Complex Technological World. MIT Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780262016704. [Preview with Google Books]

Sterman, John D. “Modeling Managerial Behavior: Misperceptions of Feedback in a Dynamic Decision Making Experiment.” Management Science 35, no. 3 (1989): 321–39.

Stokey, Edith, and Richard Zeckhauser. “Linear Programming.” Chapter 11 in A Primer for Policy Analysis. W. W. Norton & Company, 1978. ISBN: 9780393090987.

Jacob, Daniel. “Simple Models.” Chapter 3 in Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780691001852. [Preview with Google Books]

13 Class Case 2: Economic Modeling / Model Credibility Exercise

Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.

[Silver] Chapters 6, and 11.

Jaemyung Ahn, and Olivier de Weck, “Pilot Study: Assessment of SpaceNet 1.3 with NASA-STD-(I)-7009.” (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007).

14 Class Case 3: Oil Spill / Risk Assessment Part I

Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.

Stern, Paul C., and Harvey V. Fineberg, eds. Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society. National Academy Press, 1996, summary pp. 1–10. ISBN: 9780309053969. [Preview with Google books]

———. Chapter 1 in Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society. National Academy Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780309053969. [Preview with Google books]

Slovic, Paul. “Going Beyond the Red Book: The Sociopolitics of Risk.” Human and Ecological Risk Assessment 9, no. 5 (2003): 1181–90.

Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the U.S. EPA, National Research Council. Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment. National Academies Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780309120463. Read summary and skim relevant chapters.


Models at the Environmental Protection Agency

Guest Lecturer: Elsie Sunderland, Harvard School of Public Health

Committee on Models in the Regulatory Decision Process, National Research Council. Models in Environmental Regulatory Decision Making. The National Academy Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780309110006. Read the summary and skim the rest.

McGarity, T. O., and W. E. Wagner. “Legal Aspects of the Regulatory Use of Environmental Modeling.” Environmental Law Reporter: News and Analysis 33, no. 10 (2003): 10751–74.

16 Class Case 4: Clean Air / Risk Assessment Part II

Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.

[Silver] Chapter 7.

17 Benefit-Cost Analysis

Arrow, Kenneth J., Maureen L. Cropper, et al. “Is There a Role for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation?Environment and Development Economics 2, no. 2 (1997): 195–221.

Pindyck, Robert S. “Uncertainty in Environmental Economics.” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 1, no. 1 (2007): 45–65.

Goulder, Lawrence H., and Robert N. Stavins. “Discounting: An Eye on the Future.” Nature 419, no. 6908 (2002): 673–4.

Keohane, Nathaniel O., and Sheila M. Olmstead. “The Benefits and Costs of Environmental Protection.” Chapter 3 in Markets and the Environment. Island Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781597260473. [Preview with Google Books]

18 Class Case 5: Sports Statistics / Uncertainty Analysis I

Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.

Risbey, James S., and MilindKandlikar. “Expressions of Likelihood and Confidence in the IPCC Uncertainty Assessment Process.” Climatic Change 85, no. 1–2 (2007): 19–31.

vanAsselt, Marjolein B. A., and Jan Rotmans. “Uncertainty in Integrated Assessment Modelling.” Climatic Change 54, no. 1–2 (2002): 75–105.

Thunnissen, Daniel P. “Uncertainty Classification for the Design and Development of Complex Systems.” (PDF) In 3rd Annual Predictive Methods Conference. 2003.

19 Uncertainty Analysis II / Model-Building Introduction

Montalbo, Trisha, Jeremy Gregory, et al. “Life Cycle Assessment of Hand Drying Systems.” (PDF) Materials Systems Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011).

Björklund, Anna E. “Survey of Approaches to Improve Reliability in LCA.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 7, no. 2 (2002): 64–72.

Parts I, II, and III in Life Cycle Assessment: What it is and How to Do It? United Nations, 1996. ISBN: 9789280715460.

20 Collaborative Model-Building Exercise No readings for this session.
21 Interests and Politics: Participatory Methods and Stakeholders

Wynne, Brian. “Public Uptake of Science: A Case for Institutional Reflexivity.” Public Understanding of Science 2, no. 4 (1993): 321–37.

Mooney, Chris, and Sheril Kirshenbaum. “Rethinking the Problem of Scientific Illiteracy.” Chapter 2 in Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future. Basic Books, 2010. ISBN: 9780465019175. [Preview with Google Books]

Sclove, Richard. “Reinventing Technology Assessment: A 21st Century Model.” (PDF) Report, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, April 2010.

Brugha, Ruairi, and Zsuzsa Varvasovszky. “Stakeholder Analysis: A Review.” Health Policy and Planning 15, no. 3 (2000): 239–46.

———. “How to do (or not to do)… A Stakeholder Analysis.” Health Policy and Planning 15, no. 3 (2000): 338–45.

22 Class Case 6: Cancer Screening / Lessons Across Cases Discussion Readings for the class case studies are selected by the students.
23 Policy Memo Roundtable Practice (Optional) No readings for this session.
24 Policy Memo Roundtable 1 No readings for this session.
25 Policy Memo Roundtable 2 No readings for this session.
26 Synthesis and Wrap-up No readings for this session.