Political Conference

What You can learn!

Classes and workshop topics include:

Level 1: The Role of the White House, Congress, Federal Agencies, and Judiciary in Science & Technology Policy

Level 2: Public Policy Analysis for Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals

Level 3: Public Policy Analytical Methods for Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals

Level 4: Program Evaluation for Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals

The intensity of analysis increases from Level 1 to Level 4, but you do not need to take the Level 1 class before Level 2, or the Level 2 class before Level 3. 


Think about it like the difference between a walk, a jog, and a run.  You can begin running right away, but you might want to build up your knowledge and thinking first to get the most out of the program.


As long as you’re willing to undertake the level of work involved, you can handle the content in each class – particularly as scientists, engineers, and health professionals are used to quantitative methods and analytical thinking.

See below for brief overviews of each class and click on 
Read More to obtain additional information.  The cost of classes varies for professionals, students, and postdocs.  Discounts of 50% are available for NSPN members or affiliated science and technology policy student groups.  

Level 1

The Role of the White House, Congress, Federal Agencies, and Judiciary in Science & Technology Policy

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.


You also need to understand the key principles involved in evaluating programs, analyzing potential public policies that might respond to societal implications, and then communicating your results to policymakers and the public. 

The Level 1 class is for those interested in science and technology (S&T) policy, and who want to transform their thinking into an S&T policy mindset. This may be their first venture into S&T policy or they want to go beyond webinars to a more in-depth understanding.

Level 2

Public Policy Analysis 

Policy analysis provides a systematic process to analyze public policy options to respond to a societal challenge such as COVID-19, climate change, and homelessness.  It involves identifying the underlying problem, key decision-makers, stakeholders, policy question, and policy options. 


These options are then analyzed to identify which is likely to be the most effective, efficient, equitable, and ease of political acceptability.  Once that analysis is concluded, the analyst makes a recommendation based on those criteria.  The analyst then communicates the results to policymakers and the public.  


The Level 2 class is meant for those who have actively been involved in S&T policy in some way. At this stage, students probably have a good basic understanding of the topics covered in Level 1 and have attended seminars on non-academic careers, but they probably have not had any educational exposure to public policy analysis or only in a limited way.  You do not need to have taken the Level 1 class to take the Level 2  class.

Level 3

 Public Policy Analytical Methods 

Benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and risk analysis 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 decision-making 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.

The Level 3 class is meant for those who are interested in learning about the analytical techniques used in policy analysis in greater depth than provided in Level 2. You do not need to take Level 1 or Level 2 classes to take a Level 3 class.

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.  


Whatever the source of funding for your program, you'll likely be asked to evaluate it on a regular basis.  And when developing a proposal for funding, one common element requested is how you will evaluate the program to determine if it is successful in achieving the proposed outcomes.  

And when developing a policy analysis, your first step is to understand the "status quo."


The Level 4 class is for those who are interested in learning how to evaluate an existing program, and provides greater analytical depth than provided in Level 2. You do not need to take the Level 1, 2, or 3 class to take a Level 4 class.