Level 3
Public Policy Analytical Methods for Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals: Understanding and Evaluating Benefit-Cost, Cost-Effectiveness, and Risk Analysis

Introduction 

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.

 

Educational Outcomes 

In this “learn by doing” class, students will enhance their understanding of:

  • What are benefit-cost analysis (BCA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), and risk analysis (RA), and why are they important to program evaluation and policy analysis

  • The steps and methods used to conduct BCA, CEA, and RA, including sources of information, and sensitivity analysis.

  • Communicating the results of BCA, CEA, and RA, and how this related to policymaker decisions.

  • Understanding the difference between a good and poor BCA, CEA, and RA

 

Class Topics

  • What are benefit-cost analysis (BCA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), and risk analysis (RA), and why are they important to program evaluation and policy analysis?

  • What is the difference between a BCA and a CEA?

  • What are the steps in conducting a BCA?

  • What are the steps in conducting a CEA?

  • What are some applications of BCA and CEA?

  • What are the differences between risk analysis, risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication?

  • What are the steps in conducting an RA?

  • What are some applications of RA?

  • What are the principles for risk communication?

  • What are the differences between a good and poor BCA, CEA, and RA?

How it Works:  You can go through the material at the pace that works for you.  The content of the class is presented through short-taped lectures of about 15 minutes on our learning management system called Ruzuku.  You will then practice the content of each lesson through exercises on which you'll receive feedback. 

During the six weeks of the class, there will be a weekly one-hour live Q&A session where you can ask questions and students can volunteer for their exercises to be "workshopped."   The date and time for the weekly Q&A session will be determined by the vote of the registered participants.  Evening (eastern) options will be offered.

Although the Q&A sessions occur over 6 weeks, it sometimes takes longer for students to complete the exercises due to their other responsibilities.  There is no expiration date for watching the videos.  In addition, you can use your three coaching calls to get feedback on your work at any time - before or after the Q&A sessions end - along with career guidance and any other professional guidance you'd like to receive.

 

The date/time for coaching calls is based on your schedule and that of the instructor and is scheduled via an app.  You also have long-term access to the instructor and announcements of jobs, fellowships, seminars, and workshops via the Academy's Slack channel.

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TESTIMONIALS

Meredith Ward, Analytical Chemist

"The Level 3 [Public Policy Analytical Methods] course provided me with different ways to analyze policy options. I learned about benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and risk analysis, all of which can be applied to a variety of policy topics. Debbie is extremely helpful in answering questions and providing feedback, and I learned a lot about how policy can be analyzed, and thus improved, from this course.”