How Helpful is Social Policy Analysis, Anyway?

Hannah Watson, MPP'24

October 12, 2023

Hannah WatsonAs part of my master’s program, Heller recommends I take a social policy analysis course. Is it worthwhile? Are the skills I learned valuable?

The purpose of Social Policy Analysis: Technique and Application is to involve the study of government and social actions aimed at solving social incentives through legislation and policy. I learned a bunch of stuff  from this course: analytical, research, persuasive communication, policy evaluation, quantitative, critical thinking, and practical experience. 

If you want to be a public policy expert, it’s great to have each of these skills. One of the skills I learned was how to analyze and evaluate policies. I’ll need to be able to evaluate different policies and how they affect society and government. As a policy analyst, in order to make changes, you need to evaluate various policies and see them through the intersectionality lens. 

Aside from that,  I learned the purpose of research is used for policy analysis. It’s about collecting and analyzing data from different sources, like government reports, academic studies, surveys, case studies, and literature reviews. Each of these sources can help you get a different perspective on a policy. 

My next realization was how important persuasive communication is. Social policy analysts need the ability to convince both orally and in writing. Persuasive communication is both a tool and a skill you can use in Congress as well as in non-profits. When I was writing my final research funding proposal, I had to demonstrate my communication skills, if I wanted to get the money and support I needed to implement policies and do research on policies that I thought needed to be addressed.

Last but not least, policy evaluation and quantitative analysis skills.  An example of quantitative analysis would be the use of statistics and quantitative methods to evaluate policy options and forecast their potential consequences.  Being able to evaluate existing policies to see how effective they are and how they might be improved is a great skill to have. 

As a result, I think all the skills I learned about social policy: technique and application, are very valuable. They can be applied to a lot of sectors, factors, and developments. The skills can help one become a good policy analyst and advance their career, like they did for me.