Your Guide

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Deborah (Debbie) 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 (BCA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), and risk analysis (RA)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.

Educational Outcomes 

In this “learn by doing” class, students will enhance their understanding of:

What are benefit-cost analysis (BCA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), and risk analysis (RA), and why are they important to program evaluation and policy analysis

  • The steps and methods used to conduct BCA, CEA, and RA, including sources of information, and sensitivity analysis.

  • Communicating the results of BCA, CEA, and RA, and how this related to policymaker decisions.

  • Understanding the difference between a good and poor BCA, CEA, and RA

How it Works:  Students will work at their own pace with the option to participate in monthly office hours that will be scheduled based on the votes of class participant interest and schedules.    

The content of the class is presented through short-taped lectures of about 15 minutes on our learning management system called Ruzuku (where you are now).    You will then practice the content of each lesson through exercises that go through each step of the policy analysis.  

Each month, 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.

In addition, each student will have the option for three individual coaching calls to get feedback on your work 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, materials and videos on Ruzuku, and announcements of jobs, fellowships, seminars, and workshops via the Academy's Slack channel.

Digital Badge:

Completion of the requirements for your digital badge is defined as watching all the class videos and meeting virtually with the instructor at least once to discuss their analysis.  We recognize that not everyone (or even most students!) will complete their lysis within the timeframe of the course.  

Certificate Program:

Another option is to register for all four classes offered by the S&T Policy Academy at once to obtain digital badges for each class as well as a digital certificate.  The four classes, which may be taken in any order, are:   

  • Level 1: Science and Technology Policy & Careers 101: Whether you’re a scientist, engineer, or health professional interested in a career in science and technology policy or a researcher who’s interested in improving how they describe the potential societal implications of their research, you need a better understanding of science and technology policy. In this class, you'll learn how the White House, Congress, and Judiciary REALLY work, receive an introduction to analytical techniques, and learn about careers at the local, state, national, and international level.
  • Level 2: Public Policy Analysis: Policy analysis provides a systematic process to analyze public policy options to respond to societal challenges such as COVID-19, climate change, and homelessness.
  • Level 3: Analytical Methods: Benefit-cost analysis (BCA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), and risk analysis (RA)are quantitative techniques used to support the assessment of effectiveness,  efficiency and equity in the policy analysis process.
  • Level 4: Program Evaluation: While policy analysis focuses on the future, program evaluation looks at the past performance of a program to see if it has met its societal goals,  how it can be improved, and whether funding for that program should be continued.

If you sign up for the certificate program, you receive a financial discount over individual registration and an additional hour of career counseling, resume or cover letter review, and job-, internship, or fellowship-hunting, or similar advice (a $300 value) that can be used at any time.   If you believe that you have attended a course that already provides you with the knowledge in one of the certificate classes, you can request a lower rate.


Monthly 1 hour Q&A office hours with the date and time are determined by the majority vote of registered students. Typically, they are 1 hour sometime between 5-7 pm eastern, M-Th. Q&As are optional and can be watched via video at a later date/time.  If there is sufficient interest, we will consider increasing the number of Q&A calls.

Registration Deadline:  Students can register at any time and will have immediate access to the course material.  You are only eligible for the Q&A sessions, however, during the semester for which you register.  In addition, you are only able to vote on the day/time of calls. These deadlines are as follows:

If a waiver is needed from these deadlines due to petitioning professional development funds from NSPN, email


Level 3 - Students/Postdocs/Unemployed $247 Register at this level 

Level 3 - Students/Postdocs/Unemployed - NSPN Member $124 Register at this level

Level 3 - Professionals $347 Register at this level

Certificate - Student/Postdoc/Unemployed - $947 Register at this link

Certificate Program - Students/Postdocs/Unemployed - NSPN Member $474 Register at this link with code NSPN

Certificate - Professional -  $1337 Register at this link

Half-price discounts are available for National Science Policy Network (NSPN) members and for splitting the cost with a friend.  Note that NSPN has a professional development fund where you can apply or funds to pay for S&T Policy Academy classes.   The maximum is $500 annually and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  

Questions or Discount Codes Needed?:  Email

Satisfaction Guarantee: We take the success of our students seriously.  So as long as you fully participate in the course (watching all the videos, doing all the assignments, participate in the Q&A calls and the one-on-one meetings) and work collaboratively with your instructor yet are still not satisfied with the results, I’ll refund your money no questions asked.