Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the students: have acquired a fine-grained knowledge of the main theoretical and methodological constitutive elements of the policy design approaches; have acquired a deep knowledge of the policy instruments approach; know in a detailed way the characteristics of the policy design in comparative perspective in at least two policy fields; can critically analyze the processes of policy design; can set up a research project on comparative policy design; are able to elaborate policy reccommendations and reports

Course contents

This course  is a "structured seminar" (see below in Teaching Methods) that focuses on policy design intended as an approach through which policies can be not only analyzed and explained but also consciously designed. The course is divided in two parts. In the first part students will be given the main theoretical concepts and frameworks of the policy design approach.. The main questions addressed will be: What is Policy Design? Who Designs Public Policies? Why Do They Do It? How and When Do Designs Come About? What is Good Policy Design? How Do We Know? How Should the Design of Specific Policies be Evaluated? Can the Design of Public Policies be Improved to Solve Complex Problems? Particular analytical attention will be devoted to which actors design and to which kind of policy instruments policy designers have at their disposal to deal with collective problems.

The second part of the course will be devoted to the empirical application of the policy design approach to the comparative analysis in two sectors:

1. policies adopted by governments to respond to the  pandemic caused by Covid19

2. climate change policies


Theoretical  READINGS.

  • Howlett, M. and Mukherjee, I. (eds). Routledge Handbook of Policy Design. Routledge, 2018.
  • Capano, G. (2019) Reconceptualizing Layering. From mode of institutional change to mode of institutional design: Types and outputs. Public Administration, 97(3), 590-604.
  • Capano, G., and A. Lippi. (2017) How Policy Instruments are Chosen: Patterns of Decision Makers’ Choices. Policy Sciences 50 (2): 269–93.
  • Capano, G. e JJ. Woo (2017) Designing policy robustness: outputs and processes. Policy and Society 37(4), pp.422-440.
  • Capano G. e Howlett M. (2020) The Knowns and Unknowns of Policy Instrument Analysis: Policy Tools and the Current Research Agenda on Policy Mixes, SAGE OPEN, 10(1) pp. 1 – 13.
  • Craft, Jonathan, and Michael Howlett. “Policy Formulation, Governance Shifts and Policy Influence: Location and Content in Policy Advisory Systems.” Journal of Public Policy 32, no. 2 (2012): 79–98. doi:10.1017/S0143814X12000049.
  • Howlett, M. “Managing the ‘Hollow State’: Procedural Policy Instruments and Modern Governance.” Canadian Public Administration 43, no. 4 (2000): 412–31.
  • Ingram, H. and Schneider, A.I. (1990) The Behavioral Assumptions of Policy Tools. The Journal of Politics, 52(02), pp. 510–529.
  • Lascoumes P., and P. Le Galès (2007), ‘Understanding public policy through its instruments. From the nature of instruments to the sociology of public policy instrumentation’, Governance 20(1): 1–21.
  • Linder, S. H., and B. G. Peters. “From Social Theory to Policy Design.” Journal of Public Policy 4, no. 3 (1984): 237–59.
  • Mintrom, Michael, and Joannah Luetjens. “Design Thinking in Policymaking Processes: Opportunities and Challenges.” Australian Journal of Public Administration 75, no. 3 (September 1, 2016): 391–402.
  • Salamon, L.M. (2000) The New Governance and the Tools of Public Action: An Introduction. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 28(5), 1611-1674
  • Schneider, A., and H. Ingram. “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy.” American Political Science Review 87, no. 2 (1993): 334–47.
  • Simons, Arno and Jan-Peter Voss. “Policy Instrument Constituencies.” In Handbook of Policy Formulation, edited by Michael Howlett and Ishani Mukherjee, 355–72. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2017.
  • Vedung, E. (1998) Policy Instruments: Typologies and Theories. In M.L. Bemelmans-Videc, R.C. Rist and E. Vedung (eds.), Carrots, Sticks, and Sermons: Policy Instruments and Their Evaluation. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, pp. 21–58.

Readings Climate Change Policy

  • Jordan A. e B. Moore (2020). DURABLE BY DESIGN?
    Policy Feedback in a Changing Climate
    . Cambridge University Press.
  • Schaffrin, A., Sewerin, S., Seubert, S. (2015). Toward a comparative measure of climate policy output. Policy Studies Journal, 43, 257–282.
  • Edmonson, D., Kern, F., e Rogge, K. (2019) The co-evolution of policy mixes and socio-technical systems: Towards a conceptual framework of policy mix feedback in sustainability transitions. Research Policy, 48(10).
  • Diercks, G. (2019). Lost in translation: How legacy limits the OECD in promoting new policy mixes for sustainability transitions. Research Policy, 48(10)

Readings on governmental responses to Covid19 crisis

  • The  articles included in the no. 3/2020 of the  journal Policy & Society (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpas20/current)
  • The articles included in the no.8/2021 of the Journal of European Public Policy, (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjpp20/current?gclid=Cj0KCQjw0emHBhC1ARIsAL1QGNd4wd0KW2Id7vyj4q3s36expSBxDTs47wsWKUco2ASJe99W619CDBYaAgwfEALw_wcB

Teaching methods

The course is designed as a "structured seminar"

The course lasts 40 class hours distributed in 12 weekly meetings.

The main organizational features of the  course are as follows:

1. One  3 or 4 hours class per week (eight 3-hours clases and four 4-hours classes)

2. Except for the  first, introductory,  every class will devote the  first part to partecipatory activities of the  students, while in the second part  the teacher will introduce the topics and the readings of the  following week

3. Each student is assumed to be very pro-active in preparing the classes

4. Students will prepare 3 short papers during the course, in which they will asked to show their capacity to critically assess the  treated and discussed topics.

The course will be held "in presence" (if the health conditions will allow it).

In any case, the attendance only in sync will be guaranteed (MS TEAMS).

The detailed syllabus containing all the topics, activities and related specific reading of the course will be presented during the first introductory class



Assessment methods

Students’ learning will be assessed in the following way:

  • quality of in class presentations (30%)
  • quality of in class participation (20%)
  • quality of the 3 short papers (50%)



• <18: failure

• 18-22:fair

• 23-26:good

• 27-29:very good

• 30 e lode:excellent

Teaching tools

Web resources

Office hours

See the website of Giliberto Capano