Prospectus

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Optioneel Keuzevak: Big Issues of Governance Today and Tomorrow

Course 2013-2014

Admission requirements

This course is open as an elective to students in their third bachelor year. Second bachelor year students can also take it, in case they intend to follow a 300 level course.

Description

When ‘new’ and ‘hot’ issues hit the headlines and enter the political agenda, they often push ‘old’ issues aside. How are such issues detected, what are the consequences for agenda setting, and what policy responses follow?

The lecture series organized by the Montesquieu Institute, Campus The Hague, provides a better understanding of the way in which major policy problems come and go. The economy, employment, energy, immigration, safety, all these issues compete for attention. And this competition happens across national borders, in the EU, and on the global stage of world politics.

How do big issues emerge and travel to the top of the agenda? To understand this, we need a multilevel governance perspective and a long term view. This course deals with the dynamics of attention shifts from one big issue to the next and considers the conditions under which new issues may dominate the political agenda of tomorrow. Issues rise and fall not only because of alarming news headlines, but also because stakeholders from society, business and politics compete over which matters to prioritize. This is a fundamental feature of politics and policy making for which the lecture series provides an approach with much relevance to practice.

How do governments and international institutions deal with big problems of governance? When do these policy making organizations become alert, how long they ignore information about new problems, or transfer problems in some way to a different level of policy making? How do focus events trigger attention, and how long lasting is the effect of such events? The aim of the lecture series is to explain the dynamics of agenda setting on big governance issues of today and tomorrow. The series will also address in what ways policy-making institutions can prepare themselves for detecting issues and organize an effective response.

The theoretical line of the course is based on the politics of attention to issues. The programme combines lectures on policy topics as well as on policy venues in order to provide a comprehensive approach. On the one hand, policy problems have different dimensions (e.g. economic, social, etc.) that are in constant shift, which may promote in the future their linkage to other issues or to new properties of the ‘same’ problem. On the other hand, depending on the actor involved, there are different perspectives to look at a problem and at the dynamics of attention paid to it. To illustrate this, three policy issues and three arenas are included in the programme. They were deliberately selected and associated in pairs for didactical reasons, but in reality all are independent of each other.

Course objectives

This course will provide you with an insight in the conditions promoting or hindering an issue to reach the governmental agenda and become prominent in policy making. After this course you will have a better sense of the issues that will be central in attention in the time to come. This includes a better understanding of the role of old and new media, organizations lobbying for influence, and the way in which policy-making institutions process all kinds of information about policy problems. You will be able to identify the ways in which governments handle the infinite number of problems arriving within their scope. Finally, you will be able to apply theoretical concepts to a practical case (see the assessment method below). You will also have the opportunity to engage in real-world and pluralistic discussions during the lectures, as this course is also open to professionals, as well as to students from all universities in the Netherlands.

Timetable

As the mode of instruction includes lectures (L) and workgroup sessions (WGS), both are included in the timetable. For a better overview of all the course activities, the deadlines of the assignments (DA) in italics are also incorporated.

Date Time Session
1. (L) 30 Oct 18:30-20:30 Policy problems contesting for attention

  1. (L) 6 Nov 18:30-20:30 Media attention to problems

  2. (L) 13 Nov 18:30-20:30 Cyberspace and ‘trending topics’

DA 15 Nov N/A First assignment

  1. (L) 20 Nov 18:30-20:30 Interest groups influencing the current agenda

  2. (WGS) 22 Nov 11:00-13:00 First workgroup session

  3. (L) 27 Nov 18:30-20:30 International labour market issues

  4. (L) 4 Dec 18:30-20:30 Institutions as regulators of multilevel-governance

  5. (WGS) 6 Dec 11:00-13:00 Second workgroup session

  6. (L) 11 Dec 18:30-20:30 Energy strategy and ‘green’ issues

DA 10 Jan 2014 N/A Second assignment

In brief: *7 L – Wednesdays, from 18:30 to 20:30 *2 WGS – Fridays, from 11:00 to 13:00 *2 DA – Fridays
Location: to be announced

Mode of instruction

The course programme includes seven lectures and two workgroup sessions. In the lectures, the students will be introduced to the topics of the course by looking at the interaction of policy images and policy venues. During the team meetings, the students will make presentations and discuss in teams the development of their assignments.

Assessment method

Students will deliver two individual papers that complement each other. Each participant selects a ‘hot’ policy topic. The first assignment (40% of the final grade) looks at the definition of the problem and its policy image. The second assignment (60% of the final grade) analyses the role of policy venues in issue framing, the attention given to the problem, and the institutional responsiveness.
Attendance to both workgroup sessions is mandatory to be allowed to submit the second assignment. 0.5 will be deducted for each day of late submission of an assignment.
Students will deliver two individual papers that complement each other. Each participant selects a ‘hot’ policy topic. The first assignment (40% of the final grade) looks at the different dimensions of the problem, focusing on its definition and policy image. The second assignment (60% of the final grade) deals with the perspective and the role of policy venues in issue framing, the attention given to the problem, and the way in which policy-making institutions are responsive to claims and demands about the problem.
Attendance to both workgroup sessions is mandatory to be allowed to submit the second assignment. In case of late submission of an assignment, 0.5 will be deducted for each additional day of late delivery.

Blackboard

The Montesquieu Institute – Campus The Hague will provide the digital platform for information and communication about the course.

Reading list

To be announced

Registration

http://www.montesquieu-instituut.nl/registrationlectureseries
Registration deadline: 21 October 2013

Contact information

Info@mi-cdh.nl

Remarks N/A