Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Participating in the Public Policy Process (September)


Being able to understand the policy process provides participants with the ability to become more effective in promoting policy issues. The purpose of this workshop was to provide participants with an understanding of the policy process in terms of the various stages, when and why certain issues make it on the public agenda (and why others do not), and the roles of different participants in the policymaking process. A critique of the relationship between experts and policymakers led to an analysis of how language is used to build policy coalitions as well as how citizens are conceptualized and regarded during the policymaking process. This discussion also considered how values such as efficiency, equity, and equality are ideologically constructed.

Seminar leader:
Kevin Smith is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he has published widely as an academic policy analyst on a variety of issues including crime, reproductive health, drug policy, and education. His book, The Case Against School Choice: Politics, Markets, and Fools, is widely used by education policymakers. Prior to becoming an academic, Dr. Smith was an award-winning investigative journalist and newspaper columnist for several publications, including Newsweek and the Kansas City Star. He is currently the associate editor of State Politics and Policy Quarterly, a scholarly journal of state-level policy analysis and politics.