Governance & Policy Advice: How Political Decisions Come to Life - Hertie School of Governance



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What goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of political decision-making? Who advises politicians, and how big is their influence? Enrol to learn more about policy advice, political consulting and their impact on governance.

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What you'll learn on the course

Decision Making
Communication Training
Professor Training

Course programme

Course Summary

We know that political decisions are made by governments and/or parliaments. But who provides these bodies with the information they need and shows them the strategic options they have? Who frames political action before the wider public even takes notice of the issue? How does political agenda setting work and what do certain policy outcomes tell us about the future of the issue at stake?

This course is designed to outline key features of policy advice and political consulting and their impact on governance.

We will observe the key players on the spot as well as those behind the scenes and we will analyze their patterns of interaction. Moreover, we will provide insights regarding essential questions to which there are no single right answers: What role does policy advice play in different democracies? What is good policy advice? What makes an expert? In sum: Whom do (and should) politicians and society listen to, and what do (and should) they make of the advice they receive?

What will I learn?

By the end of the course, students will know the key concepts of policy advice as well as the main actors in the field and their patterns of interaction. They will understand how and by whom a certain political decision is framed, shaped and implemented. And they will be able to apply this knowledge to a given political event which may affect their own professional or personal life. So, first and foremost, they will be able to ask the right questions.

What do I need to know?

The course is designed to cater for students and professionals interested in decision-making, political communication, policy advice and consulting. Course participants are expected to follow current politics and be keen on looking at the matter from different (and sometimes unusual) perspectives. Basic knowledge in political science would be an asset.

Course Structure

Chapter 1: Introduction and Course Overview

Convener: Prof. Dr. Andrea Römmele, Professor for Communication in Politics & Civil Society, Hertie School of Governance

Chapter 2: Truth to Power? Scientific Advisers Seeking Truth, Decision-Makers Seeking Power?

Convener: PD Dr. Martin Thunert, Senior Lecturer, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg

Chapter 3: Political Communication and Political Consulting

Convener: Prof. Dr. Andrea Römmele, Professor for Communication in Politics & Civil Society, Hertie School of Governance

Chapter 4: Economic and Financial Policy

Convener: Prof. Dr. Thomas König, Chair of Political Science, University of Mannheim

Chapter 5: Social Policy

Convener: Prof. Dr. Kent Weaver, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Professor of Public Policy and Government at Georgetown University

Chapter 6: Foreign and Security Policy

Convener: Dr. Nicole Renvert, Research Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP – Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik)

Chapter 7: Energy and Environment

Convener: Prof. Dr. Karen Smith Stegen, KAEFER Professor of Renewable Energy and Environmental Politics, Jacobs University, Bremen

Chapter 8: Policy Advice and International Cooperation

Convener: Katharina Hübner, Senior Manager, Division Good Governance and Human Rights, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Chapter 9: Citizens’ Involvement in Policy Advice

Convener: Henrik Schober, Head Editor, Zeitschrift für Politikberatung (Journal for Political Consulting and Policy Advice), Hertie School of Governance

Chapter 10: Best Practices: Guidelines for Policy Advice?

Convener: Prof. Dr. Andrea Römmele, Professor for Communication in Politics & Civil Society, Hertie School of Governance


Approx. 3 hours per week, not including exam preparation