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Methods for Socially Just Policy Analysis


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & LeadershipElective
Policy & PoliticalRequirement (Host)
Program EvaluationElective
Older Adults
Children & Families

Course Description

This course will introduce students to a set of analytic tools and skills for critical policy thinking, reading, and writing. Analytic tools introduced in this class include frameworks for policy analysis and using feminist, intersectional, and critical race lenses for policy analysis. The impact of race, gender, and class on policy development and enactment are emphasized throughout the course as well as an exploration of global approaches to policy analysis.

This course will enhance critical writing skills and teach concise and persuasive writing methods, issue framing, and legislative literacy for effective policy writing. Students will learn qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods frequently used for policy analysis. Students will also be introduced to policy document writing, including policy briefs, memos, factsheets, op-eds, and public comments. Finally, students will learn how to locate, read, and translate policy for community consumption.


1. Explore frameworks for policy analysis and utilize various frameworks for analysis, such as critical race theory, feminist, and intersectional frameworks;
2. Apply frameworks for policy analysis to the assessment of impact on social, economic, and environmental justice;
3. Explore research on evidence-based policymaking and its application to policy development and enactment;
4. Develop and evaluate a reasonable set of options (policy recommendations) for changing a particular bill or existing policy;
5. Design and implement a preliminary political and advocacy strategy for facilitating the enactment of the preferred option;
6. Organize and prepare different types of policy documents and/or policy recommendations;
7. Discuss the effect of social location and positionalities on policy development, their influence across system levels, and the process by which policy can advantage/privilege and disadvantage/oppress groups based on social location;
8. Discuss typical ethical concerns and concepts of equity related to social policy development and enactment


This course will use multiple methods including but not limited to: lectures, demonstrations, case studies, readings, guest speakers, discussions, written assignments, individual and group exercises. The course will be offered primarily in person with the possibility of a flipped-class or hybrid structure.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

Issues related to privilege, oppression, diversity, and social justice will be explored through a policy lens. This course will focus on providing students with the tools to advance social justice through engagement in policy and politics, with a focus on engaging marginalized populations in the policy development process. Students will gain skills to analyze policies in relation to PODS, including evaluating the extent to which policies promote equity with regard to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability status and other aspects of social location.

Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Education Description

This course intentionally integrates interdisciplinary or interprofessional practice content, including:
Focused, intentional integration of interdisciplinary or interprofessional practice perspectives through assigned content, readings, speakers, and/or assignments.
Public Policy (SW 639);
Philosophy, education, and economics (SW 638); and
Political science and law (SW 640).

All three courses integrate IPE content and skills with a special emphasis on the ways various theories, frameworks, practices and/or policies originating from other disciplines do or do not promote social justice, illuminate injustices, or seek to alleviate these injustices

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