Social Welfare Policy Analysis Program
Choose a social welfare problem and policy of interest, and prepare a policy analysis brief (2-3 single-spaced pages) in which you describe the social welfare problem and policy, analyze the policy’s strengths and weakness, and provide evidence-based recommendations for improving
What is a policy brief?
A policy brief is a short document presented to decision-makers providing the most essential information about a policy and presenting specific and detailed recommendations to improve a specific policy. It should be both informative and persuasive.
What assumptions should be made about your readers?
Your readers are policy-makers who may need to make a decision about the policy. Assume the policy-makers do not have detailed knowledge about the policy. Assume that the policy-makers are busy and need to quickly understand your arguments. Your readers do not necessarily share your opinion on the policy, on the policy problem, or even your values. Thus, language that assumes your readers share your worldview should be avoided.
How should a policy brief be organized?
In professional practice, policy brief formats vary. For this class, your policy brief should be
organized as follows:
▪ A title that clearly communicates your topic or your position.
▪ A brief introductory paragraph that introduces and summarizes your argument.
▪ A brief description of the problem that the policy should be addressing, including its
scope and magnitude.
▪ A brief description of the policy, overviewing key elements of how it works and any
aspects(s) of the policy’s history relevant to your analysis.
▪ Presentation and analysis of at least two of the policy’s strengths and two of the
-Presentation and justification of at least two specific, actionable recommendations for
strengthening the policy that you want policymakers to adopt. These recommendations
should logically flow from your analysis.
▪ A clear and succinct conclusion.
Specification of the problem and summary of the problem’s scope/magnitude
-Clear statement of the problem
-Discussion of who is affected and how
Describe the policy and its key elements
-How did the policy come about?
-Brief summary of what the policy does and how it works (e.g., target population, what the policy provides specifically, how it works)
-Accuracy and completeness of the policy description
Analysis of policy strengths and weaknesses (10 points)
-Clear identification and critical discussion of at least 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses
-Quality of critical analysis
Identification and justification of recommendations for change to the policy
-Clear identification of at least 2 specific recommendations to strengthen the policy
-Recommendations clearly drawn from policy analysis
-Strength of the justification for each recommendation
Use of data/evidence and credible references to support major points (10 points)
Appropriately tailored to policy-maker audience (10 points)
-Well-organized presentation, effective title, headings, concise language
-Appropriate grammar, spelling, and use of citation
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