Discussion Questions

Paul Cairney (Links to an external site.) is a contemporary public policy scholar. His work highlights, critiques and explores classic and contemporary scholarship and applied discussion on public policy research and public policy processes in an accessible, relatable and often entertaining, fashion.  He also makes much of his work available through open sources podcasts, blogs and other media. While his scholarship is based in the UK, he does a very good job of “de-jargoning” and “de-mystifying” the policymaking.  For this and several subsequent discussions, we will consider Cairney’s work as we engage and understand public policy processes.


A. “Poke and soak” around on his WordPress site to familiarize yourself with its layout, content and style->  https://paulcairney.wordpress.com/ (Links to an external site.)

1. Share a link to any element of the site that is of interest to you and may help enhance your study of public policy. Briefly discuss why you selected it. (2 pts)

B. Read and respond to Cairney’s 12 Things to know about studying public policy (Links to an external site.)

2. How do his 12 points correspond to what you already know about the public policy process? Was any of this surprising to you? What is your general reaction to these ‘revelations”?  (2 points)

C. Read Chapter 2 of Cairney’s   downloadand respond to the following prompts:

 3. How does Cairney’s Conclusion serve as a roadmap for reading and understanding the chapter? (2 pts)

4. How does Cairney’s “checklist” approach in the conclusion seek to simplify and integrate various approaches public policy study and analysis? (2 pts)

5. Why are models useful to understand public policy? (2 pts) 

6. Briefly define and summarize each element of “The Generic Policy Cycle”  (historically referred to as the ‘stages model). (Fig. 2.1). (5 pts)

7. Compare and contrast the top-down and bottom up approaches to policy implementation. (3 pts)

8. Why is policy evaluation complicated? (2 pts)

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