2017 Annual Institute

2017 Annual Institute
Society of Policy Scientists
November 16-18, 2017
Brown University in Providence, RI

"Employing Developmental Constructs to Assist in Problem Oriented Policy Research"

This year’s Institute will use a new format so that researchers can share their research topics and engage, as a community, to apply Lasswell’s concept of developmental constructs to presented work. This change of format and emphasis on developmental constructs is inspired by the changing global conditions of our time and their diverging interpretations. We hope to foster an open, reflective, and engaging discussion on spanning the diverse scales and settings in which we practice the policy sciences.

This year’s Institute is using an innovative format in order to accomplish two complementary goals: to enable greater interaction among presenters and participants and to provide more effective and engaging mentoring and learning about the policy sciences. In addition to learning how to apply the policy sciences framework in general, which has always been a goal, this Institute will also have two specific learning objectives, specifically, to understand: 1) What are developmental constructs and how can they help us understand and shape policy processes; and 2) How can multiple developmental constructs be used to conduct frame-sensitive policy inquiry, and why is this important. To accomplish this the Institute will select case studies from the submitted abstracts, to be presented in mini-workshops and examined in an interactive manner through the lenses of multiple developmental constructs. Several mini-workshops will run in parallel during each morning or afternoon session of the Institute and the key insights from each will be shared and discussed in plenary at the end of the session.

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 making sense of the trends we are observing in the world? In 1951, Lasswell described the developmental construct as a device “for self orientation in the flow of events”. The developmental construct is a tentative projection of possible trends and conditioning factors (i.e., causal relationships) that may either inform the analysis particular problems and potential solutions that an analyst is undertaking, or serve as a possible development that the analyst may wish to either encourage or deter. Any analysis is implicitly or explicitly undertaken in the context of ideas about how the future may unfold; the explicit use of developmental constructs is designed to help make this analysis more rigorous by identifying potential constructs explicitly. Developmental constructs range from individual-level trends, such as the decline of the assumption that having children is appropriate only for married couples, to far more macro trends, such as globalization and religious-based conflict.


Program Committee:

  • Jennifer Zavaleta, University of Michigan, jenniferczavaleta@gmail.com (program chair)
  • Bill Ascher, Claremont McKenna College, william.ascher@cmc.edu
  • Daniel Behn, University of Oslo, d.f.behn@jus.uio.no
  • Craig Hammer, World Bank, chammer@worldbank.org
  • Amanda Lynch, Brown University, amanda_lynch@brown.edu (host)
  • Zac Bischoff Mattson, Brown University, zachary_bischoff_mattson@brown.edu
  • David Pelletier, Cornell University dlp5@cornell.edu
  • Rich Wallace, Ursinus College rwallace@ursinus.edu


    Prize Announcement


    Institute Location and Travel Information


    Registration Information


    PSAI 2017 Agenda