The Society of Policy Scientists

The Policy Sciences Center, Inc. is a non-profit, public, tax exempt 501(c)(3) foundation founded in 1948 by Harold Lasswell, Myres McDougal, and George Dession, each of whom was a member of the Yale Law School faculty. The Center is concerned with the advancement of the policy sciences, which relate primarily to decision-making processes, from both a theoretical and practical point of view. The Center seeks to improve decision-making processes, both public and private, through sustained research and applied education in all branches of the social sciences and by administering research grants for scholars and institutions. The Center also makes available improved decision-making processes to individuals and institutions in the public and private sectors through specialized counseling or consulting and educational programs.

About the Center

The Policy Sciences Center was established because its founders believed that the application of the policy sciences would be advanced by institutionalizing the concept within an organized structure. They also saw that existing educational institutions were often handicapped from serving as the vehicle for fostering an integrative discipline such as the policy sciences because the modern university, for example, is organized around individual schools and departments focused upon their own special discipline. The Policy Sciences Center is designed to permit all the participants in any of its programs to interact with each other creatively and continuously. The Center fills the critical need for a nucleus of persons determined to work together over a number of years. Participants in Center programs may come and go, either as full members or as associates on limited tasks. The Center structure also permits the formation of spin-off centers focused on related problems or dedicated to policy training programs. In the case of specific projects, the Center offers the flexibility necessary to utilize as many interdisciplinary consultants as are appropriate to the problem. The Center's association is necessarily close with specialists from many academic fields and professions. An advantage of the Center is that a participant does not have to renounce accustomed procedures to integrate with or relate to the background disciplines of colleagues. The underlying rationale of the Center, namely the exploration of interconnectedness, fundamentally accords with the basic thrust of the policy sciences as an integrative, value-oriented discipline.

Range of Activities

The Center engages in research, teaching, and consultation with an aim to improve the strategies and procedures of decision making and policy formation within public and private organizations. The Center also performs various services for those who are interested in education, research, and professional training in the policy sciences. To help in achieving these objectives, the Center maintains a network of over 100 associates. The range of expertise represented in the network is vast. Areas of specialty include:

In 1982, the Center helped sponsor the first Policy Sciences Annual Institute. This meeting drew together for the first time many of the different people with diverse backgrounds and professional affiliations who make up the broader policy sciences community. The Institute has since become an annual event. In 1995, the Society of Policy Scientists, a professional association also dedicated to advancing the policy sciences, was founded under the Center's auspices. The Society has taken on increasing responsibility for coordinating and convening the Annual Institute.

From its inception, the Center has supported work that concerns local, national, and international governance and development, the achievement of human rights in all contexts, natural resources policy and management, the processes of selecting policymakers and decision makers, and improving communication and education at all levels. Current projects and programs continue these emphases.

Program and Project Directors: