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Politics of the Policy Process: The Politics of Crisis Management




Admissions requirements

The students should have either followed the course Institutions of Governance and Development or have received the permission of the convener/instructor.


We talk about a crisis when policy makers have to cope with a serious threat to the basic structures or the fundamental values and norms of a system. In such distress, the constituents look at their leaders to step up and take a course of action that would avert this threat or decrease the damage evoked by the crisis at hand. The leadership, under time pressure and highly uncertain circumstances has to make vital decisions.

Central objective of this course is to set forth and capture ideas about these political challenges and realities that public leadership faces in times of crises. How do crises shape the agenda-setting? What are the “operational codes” that the leaders use in order to grasp a good understanding of the crisis at hand? What are the main driving forces that direct them to one decision while ruling out another one? What are the main security concerns and stakes in the emergence of crises?

Without neglecting the importance of structural factors, this course will adopt an agency-centered approach, by focusing on how public leadership reacts under pressure.

Drawing upon the reading material, sense-making, decision-making, meaning making (political communication), crisis termination and learning from crises are the five stages of crisis management that we will examine.

Course objectives

At end of this course, the students should be able

  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the crisis-communication strategies that the leaders adopt in periods of distress, especially in the cases they are more interested in

  • Grasp a good understanding of how framing-strategies work in the faces of economic, energy, social and political crises, natural disasters and terrorist attacks

  • Develop critical reasoning skills while describing the stakes attached to decision-making in periods of uncertainty

  • Improve oral communication skills through the presentations that they will perform in the class as well as their written communication skills through their assignments and final papers


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The structure of the class will be mainly based on the questions that are set above. The first two classes of Week 1 will be mainly instructed by the lecturer who will provide the students with some introductory notes on their tasks for this course as well as some necessary conceptual definitions, which are deemed essential for the class. From Week 2 onwards, the students, through their presentations will set the stage for the classes. The lecturer will start with an introductory 5’ lecture and give the floor to the students who will perform a presentation of a topic of their interest for 5’-7’. The presentation should be designed to apply the respective key concepts of every week to a policy problem (the nature/content of the policy problem is up to the student’s call). The last slide of the presentation should conclude with two questions that will open the discussion in the class. The other attendants will have been divided into groups and will try to address the questions. They will be able to raise their remarks as well. The active presentation of the students to the class discussion is required.
Before the launch of every week’s classes (except for Week 1), the students will be required to have sent a 200 words reflection paper on the key notions that will be discussed during the same week.


  • Weekly assignments 20% (200 words-4% each weekly assignment)

  • Presentation 10%

  • Participation in the class 10%

  • Mid-Term Exam (1000 words) 15%

  • Final Exam (1500 words) 20%

  • Final Case Application (2000 words) 25%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Arjen Boin, Paul ‘t Hart, Eric Stern, and Bengt Sundelius (2005) The Politics of Crisis Management Public Leadership under Pressure, Cambridge University Press

Other articles will be announced on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Vasileios P. Karakasis,