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University of Michigan

Using Public Policy for Social Change

University of Michigan via Coursera


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Using Public Policy for Social Change provides a comprehensive introduction to public policy and its role in addressing societal challenges, with a focus on social inequalities. You’ll explore various areas of policy work, including social welfare, public health, the environment, education, and criminal justice. Learn the fundamentals of public policy design and analysis, and how policymaking functions across all levels of government in democracies worldwide. The course offers the opportunity to delve into social issues you care about, learn from real-life policymakers and advocates, and strengthen your analytical, critical thinking, and advocacy skills to create positive social change. Using Public Policy for Social Change leads you through each step of the policymaking process and encourages you to see how your talents and passions can play a role in making the world a more equitable place.


  • Week 1: What is Public Policy and What is it Good For?
    • Welcome to the Using Public Policy for Social Change course and the first-week module! This module provides an overview of the course and introduces learners to public policy as a field of professional practice. This includes an introduction to key concepts and terms and to a framework for understanding the policy-making process in democracies. Let's get started!
  • Week 2: Issue Framing and Agenda Setting
    • Welcome to Week 2! This module focuses on the first two steps in the policy-making cycle: “issue framing and “agenda setting.” This includes attention to how social problems can be researched, framed, and advocated for using an equity lens. This week will also include instruction in the basic elements of designing and implementing an advocacy strategy regarding a policy issue. Let's get started!
  • Week 3: Public Policy Design—What Should We Do?
    • Welcome to Week 3! You passed the midpoint of this course. Great job! This module focuses on steps three and four in the policy-making process of policy design, which includes policy design and policy decision-making. We cover the basics of the policy design and the important role of prospective policy analysis in the process. The module will also present a framework for analyzing and justifying a specific policy idea/design that includes consideration of its impact, economic efficiency, ethical tensions, and equity/fairness implications. Let's get started!
  • Week 4: Policy Implementation and Evaluation – Did it Work?
    • Welcome to Week 4, the last week of this course! This module covers steps five and six in the policy-making cycle: policy implementation and policy evaluation. The focus of this module is on the major techniques used to assess whether public programs and policies are achieving their intended objectives and goals. The module includes a discussion of different types of program evaluation for assessing implementation and impact/outcome goals and the research approaches commonly used for public sector evaluation, including many examples. This module also provides some guidance regarding how to find resources related to policy evaluation research and other aspect of public policy. The module concludes with an overview of the course, along with some guidance for how to find your own niche in the world of using public policy for social change. Let's get started!

Taught by

Paula Lantz


5 rating at Coursera based on 43 ratings

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