Your Guide

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Deborah D Stine PhD

I’m Dr. Deborah D. Stine, your instructor. For over 30 years, I've been fortunate enough to work for some of the top organizations in the country as a translator of science and technology to policy makers. I've worked at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the Congressional Research; the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Carnegie Mellon University. I’ve influenced countless public policies throughout my career through my understanding of science, engineering, technology, and public policy. Many of the scientists, engineers, and health professionals who I’ve mentored have gone on to successful careers in the White House, Congress, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, business, and industry. Now I'd like to provide that same knowledge and guidance to you.

Questions? Comments? Email me!

About this course

Overview of Benefit-Cost Analysis and its Intersection with Public Policy

When you make a major financial decision like buying a car or house, or determining what college you will attend, one factor in your decisionmaking is likely weighing the benefits and costs relative to your personal situation.  For example, you could go to a major private university with high tuition leading potentially to major college debt, or go to a major public university with lower tuition and have less or no debt.  

In making this decision, you'll probably consider other factors, such as whether going to one college versus another will have a long-term impact on the jobs you can attain and the salary you will make for those jobs. This, in essence, is what benefit-cost analysis is about.  Through a comparison of the benefits and costs of your academic options, you'll decide which college to attend.

The same is true for public policy.  Benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is a quantitative process, often required by federal and state law, that provides information to policymakers to help them make major decisions on policies related to the environment, energy, health, infrastructure, agriculture, and many other sectors.  As a result, understanding what BCA is, how it is determined, and how to tell a good BCA from a bad one is an important skill to learn.  If you'd like to read a brief overview of benefit-cost analysis, go here.  Below is a basic illustration from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This interactive workshop will take place over two 1.5 hour sessions:

  • In the first session on Friday, October 30, from 12-1:30 pm MDT,  you will learn the fundamentals of benefit-cost analysis.  You will then be given an exercise to practice what you have learned for a specific Idaho-focused policy.  
  • During the second session on Monday, November 9 from 12-1:30 pm MDT, you'll discuss your exercise results in small groups.  Everyone will then participate in a plenary Q&A session to answer questions on the exercises and any other questions you have about BCA.

Both sessions will be recorded, so if you need to miss all or part of one of the sessions, you can watch the recording at a later date/time.   

To participate, register for this free workshop, sponsored by the Idaho Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program, no later than  Monday, October 26th.

About the ISTPF:

The Idaho Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (ISTPF) is a nonpartisan program that connects science with policy by fostering a network of science, social science and engineering leaders who understand government and policymaking and are prepared to develop and implement solutions to address societal challenges. The ISTPF is a collaborative effort among the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University.

The ISTPF provides opportunities for outstanding scientists, social scientists and engineers to learn firsthand about policymaking while using their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing Idaho. Fellows support decision makers in Idaho, serving in yearlong assignments across state agencies. Fellows address challenges facing Idaho such as water, energy, fire, public health and economic development. 

The fellowship program is similar to a program started nearly 50 years ago by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which places scientists and engineers in fellowships to support Congress, executive branch agencies and the judiciary. The California Council on Science and Technology in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation provided startup funding for the ISTPF. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) and individual contributions enabled the launch of the first cohort. Idaho is one of 21 states developing a science policy fellowship program at the state government level.

Additional information: