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

Benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and risk analysis are quantitative techniques used to support the assessment of effectiveness,  efficiency and equity in the policy analysis process.  More than any other analytical technique they are critical in policymaker decisionmaking as benefit-cost is required by executive orders or regulations and risk-based regulations and enforcement activities -- particularly those related to the environment, health, worker safety, transportation, privacy/security, and energy policy.

Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) is used to provide information to support the "efficiency" portion of the 4E's of public policy analysis (effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and ease of political acceptability.) As described by two of the top scholars in the field, Haveman and Weimer:

"Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) is a method for assessing the economic efficiency of proposed public policies through the systematic prediction of social costs and social benefits. The concepts of ‘willingness to pay’ and ‘opportunity cost’ guide the valuation of projected policy effects in terms of a money metric. Comprehensively valuing effects and aggregating across all members of society yields the net social benefits of the policy. A policy with positive net social benefits is economically efficient relative to the status quo.  When economic efficiency is the only relevant social goal, CBA provides an appropriate decision rule: choose the policy, or set of policies, that maximizes net social benefits."

Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is a partner to BCA, but it focuses more on the human component.  From the CDC,

"Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is a way to examine both the costs and health outcomes of one or more interventions. It compares an intervention to another intervention (or the status quo) by estimating how much it costs to gain a unit of a health outcome, like a life year gained or a death prevented. CEA provides information on health and cost impacts of an intervention compared to an alternative intervention (or the status quo). If the net costs of an intervention are positive (which means a more effective intervention is more costly), the results are presented as a cost-effectiveness ratio. A cost-effectiveness ratio is the net cost divided by changes in health outcomes. Examples include cost per case of disease prevented or cost per death averted. However, if the net costs are negative (which means a more effective intervention is less costly), the results are reported as net cost savings."

Risk analysis is often used to assess "equity" -- where a policy that helps one group may harm another. From "Risk Analysis: A Tool for Policy Decisions" by W.D. Rowe, we can see how risk analysis is used in decisionmaking. 

"Increased public and regulatory concern with risks imposed by technological undertakings has focused attention on risk analysis as a tool for aiding in risk-based decisions. Promulgating health, safety and environmental regulations; addressing product and environmental impairment liability in the light of recent adverse court decisions; qualifying new chemicals, pesticides and technological facilities to meet regulations are but a few of the many areas that require new tools and approaches to identify and sort out the many issues involved. Risk analysis, encompassing the assessment and management of risk, has been promoted as one such approach."

Hopefully, these brief descriptions of each analytical method that is part of this class will encourage you to enroll so you can learn more about each and how to practice them in your policy work.

How it Works:  You can go through the material at the pace that works for you.  The content of the class is presented through short-taped lectures of about 15 minutes on our learning management system called Ruzuku.  You will then practice the content of each lesson through exercises on which you'll receive feedback. 

During the 6-weeks of the class, there will be a one-hour live Q&A session where you can ask questions and students can volunteer for their exercises to be "workshopped."   The date and time for the weekly Q&A session will be determined by the vote of the registered participants.  Evening (eastern) options will be offered.

Although the Q&A sessions occur over 6 weeks, it sometimes takes longer for students to complete the exercises.  You can use your three coaching calls to get feedback on your work at any time - before or after the Q&A sessions end - along with career guidance and any other professional guidance you'd like to receive. The date/time for coaching calls is based on your schedule and that of the instructor and is scheduled via an app.  You also have long-term access to the instructor and announcements of jobs, fellowships, seminars, and workshops via the Academy's Slack channel.

Schedule:  Week of May 31  - July 9, 2021 

Weekly 1 hour Q&A date and time are determined by the majority vote of registered students; Typically, 1 hour sometime between 5-7 pm eastern, Tu-Th. Q&As are optional and can be watched via video at a later date/time.

Registration Deadline:  May 24, 2021


Students/Postdocs/Unemployed $197.  Register at this level

Professionals $297 Register at this level

Half-price discounts are available for National Science Policy Network (NSPN) members and for splitting the cost with a friend.

Questions or Discount Codes Needed?:  Email

BCA and CEA figures are from CDC.  Risk Assessment is from EPA.