2019 Annual Institute

Call for Proposals
Society of Policy Scientists 2019 Annual Institute
October 24-27, 2019
Brown University, Providence, RI

Program Committee: Diana Ascher, Evan Andrews, Daniel Behn, Izzy Laterzo, Isabelle Heilman

The Society of Policy Scientists 2019 Annual Institute will be convened on October 24-27, 2019, at Brown University in Providence, RI. This year, our focus will be on knowledge transfer, as every policy challenge is subject to the risk of limited or faulty knowledge. Researchers are invited to share their research topics and engage, as a community, to highlight the instrumentality of Harold Lasswell’s concept of the intelligence function in presented work. Our emphasis on knowledge transfer is inspired by the changing global conditions of our time and the ease with which mis- and disinformation proliferate through communication channels. We hope to foster an open, reflective, and engaging discussion that spans across the diverse scales and settings in which we practice the Policy Sciences.

We seek papers that help us understand:

1.       The role of intelligence—or lack, manipulation, or miscomprehension thereof—in enacting sound policies in the area of your concern

2.       Ways in which the Policy Sciences may promote adequate recognition of diverse sources of knowledge across different actors in support of sound decision making

3.       What accounts for intelligence deficits on the issues of concern, and what may be done to mitigate them

4.       How the choice of policy instruments reflects constraints on the intelligence function

A secondary focus of the Institute—advancing the legacy of the Policy Sciences—will shape the format of the presentation sessions. We aim to facilitate interaction among presenters and participants that will lead to effective and engaging mentoring and learning about the Policy Sciences.

Lasswell characterized the Policy Sciences as contextual, interdisciplinary, and problem-oriented. Papers selected for presentation should demonstrate appropriate application of the Policy Sciences framework and focus on the processes and techniques that permeate the contextual constraints on knowledge transfer. To accomplish this, we will select a few case studies from the submitted abstracts to be presented in a workshop session geared toward interactive examination using the Policy Sciences framework. Other sessions will provide opportunities for presenters to share their research with the membership in a series of brief presentations grouped according to research domain and/or practical approach. An introduction to the intelligence function follows.

How can the Policy Sciences bring greater insight and clarity into the complex and transformative events shaping our world? As a community of inquiry with a shared commitment to human dignity, what intellectual tools can be marshaled for assisting communities with sound decision making as information channels and once-trusted sources are inundated with mis- and disinformation? We are reminded of Lasswell’s early work on the importance of symbols in mass communication and manipulation by governments, his advocacy of discursive techniques to “discharge accumulated anxieties,” and his call for using configurative analysis to understand the developmental constructs that underlie personal insecurities and signal impending changes in political systems. The intelligence function—the first of Lasswell’s seven decision functions: intelligence, promotion, prescription, invocation, application, termination, and appraisal—is a class of decisions taken in pursuit of the value of enlightenment (or knowledge). “The importance of intelligence for goal realization at the community level is readily observable in every value process….[and f]or authoritative decision-making and execution, the need for intelligence permeates every facet of decision.”

For further reference, consult the 1973 paper entitled, “The Intelligence Function and World Public Order,” in which McDougal, Lasswell, and Reisman describe the three components of the intelligence function and their application to all five of the intellectual tasks required of sound decision making.

Proposal Guidelines and Selection

We are seeking proposals from people who are at different stages of the research process and within their careers. We welcome proposals of work completed, published, or in development. Society membership is not required to submit a proposal.

Proposals for presentations should be no more than one page. We ask that they include a short description of your research topic and the challenge(s) of knowledge transfer that may apply to your work. We also ask that you provide your institutional affiliation, preferred title, and email address.

Proposals will be reviewed for acceptance beginning on July 25, with final decisions for the program made by August 15, 2019. The Committee will consider and accept proposals on a rolling basis, until all presentation slots are allocated. Please submit proposals to the Committee at SPSAnnualInstitute@gmail.com by July 25.

Student Travel Scholarships

We would like to encourage students and newer policy scientists to present the results of their work during Institute sessions. With that in mind, the Society is pleased to be able to provide subsidies to help fund travel or other expenses. Awards will be made up to $500 or $1,000, depending on the total funds we have available, to cover travel, accommodation, and registration expenses to attend the Policy Sciences Annual Institute. Relevant decision criteria include: 1) member of the Society of Policy Scientists; 2) presenting at the Annual Institute; and 3) new(er) policy scientist (e.g. no more than three years have passed since your most recent academic-degree enrollment or exposure to the Policy Sciences). Higher priority will be given to those who meet more of the criteria. The travel grant application is here. Applications are due by August 31, 2019, via email to SPSAnnualInstitute@gmail.com

Please consider donating to the student travel fund here.

Prize Announcement (coming soon)


Institute Location and Travel Information


Registration Information (coming soon)


PSAI 2019 Agenda (coming soon)