COVID 19 and the Policy Sciences

COVID 19 is fundamentally transforming institutions on a global scale.  For students of public policy, this is an opportunity to view public policy response, adaptation and transformation.  Weible et al. discuss emerging reactions and perspectives of the pandemic as it affects the policy sciences.  They ask an interesting question: What insights do the policy sciences offer to help us understand the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Their article is helpful to our foundational understanding of public policy in a few ways. The article:

  • Is a (relatively) current discussion on a phenomena (covid) that has far-reaching implications for institutions in policy and in practice.
  • Pays tribute to Laswell’s enduring contributions to the policy sciences, including his stages model.  Despite how unwieldy the policy disciplines seem, the stages model endures as a heuristic to help us focus!
  • Outlines “10 policy perspectives that are featured in the policy sciences literature (226)” in a way that may be especially helpful for policy students seeking to develop areas of expertise. (Policy generalists are okay too. I am one and its served me well and helped me to make contributions across areas).
  • Makes the study of the intersection of pandemic and public policy accessible, by addressing these 10 perspectives in brief. It should raise more good questions for further study.  I  personally consider this article as a pacesetter for emerging dimensions of public policy study.


For your assignment:

Rather than submitting discussion questions via Canvas, please use this discussion board to react to this article. Let’s try to stimulate a little discussion In a discussion board post:

A. Briefly critique the articles merits and limitations.  What are the strengths of this article? Where does it fall short?

B. Select and discuss ONE of the ten policy perspectives featured in the article. Relate your understanding of what the authors are saying, and your reaction to their premises or perspectives. Try to frame your discussion using prior knowledge, course content we’ve covered, and/or experience with government to add substance to your comments. Also select one or two key themes from that section to apply your unde

For example:

I’m interested in the section “Crisis response and management” (228).  Weible et. al’s (2020) assertions that

“crisis response and management shares an intermediate interdependence with (1) public policies, including the content of previously and newly adopted public policies, (2) the interactions of individuals, groups, coalitions, and networks, and (3) contextual conditions, including income levels, local interactions, and global-level decisions”

resonates with me as s a former administrator in the Division of Incident Management in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. I recognize that pandemic response would require resource coordination from that department, working in cooperation with public health officials, the state’s emergency response centers, first responders and other agencies and citizen groups.  It may not seem readily apparent why a transportation-related response unit might be an element of pandemic crisis management. Yet the “strategic and operational levels” (228) of coordination necessary to facilitate vaccine transport, mitigate traffic at vaccination and testing sites, and train first responders in new social distancing protocols embodies this intermediate interdependence.

More generally, I see in the vociferous debate about masks as public safety mandate or civil liberties infringement an example the “multiple sate simultaneous” and how such value conflicts “impose different social and economic costs an benefits” (228).   I am curious to see how President Biden’s expansive executive order mandating masks in federal settings and certain transportation modes will be studied from this perspective.

C. Post your brief critique and policy perspective discussion in the discussion board.

D. Comment on at least one of your colleagues posts. 

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