I’d shy away from pontificating most times, but here I am, a month away from becoming a declared public policy specialist and I have learnt virtually nothing in the nature of essentials through the years. There are two reasons why this concerns me, the first reason is pretty obvious, I’ve wasted time unlearning and not learning. The second reason has to do with a wider concern for what is taught in the name of public policy. I strongly believe that public policy is an important discipline- because it is integrative, multi-disciplinary and because of what it can achieve.
Some things though need to be taught for public policy education to be really effective. Things that I ought to have learnt and didn’t (institutionally) include research design, quantitative skills using statistical software, analytical and critical thinking, applied econometrics, how to itegrate insights across disciplines, how to right the ask questions, distinguishing between the plausible-possible and impossible-improbable, how to read, incentives and information and how they work and finally effective policy communication.
The rest is a matter of taste, selection, inclination and reading.