Ecologic University Course on Think Tanks Policy Consulting (2011)
In the summer term of 2011, Christiane Gerstetter and Doris Knoblauch, Fellows at the Ecologic Institute, taught a seminar on policy consulting at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen. Some 35 students, enrolled in a bachelor’s programme, participated. The seminar consisted of a block of three units for a total duration of 32 hours for a full course credit.
The two Ecologic Fellows were teaching this seminar for the second time. The course was again targeted at 2nd semester students, enrolled in the International Degree Course Policy Management. The seminar was taught in German and used real-life examples from Ecologic’s work to introduce the students to the day-to-day functioning of an environmental think tank. At the same time, students were to develop relevant professional capacities (e.g. presenting information in an appropriate way for decision-makers) and enhance their knowledge on current political topics (e.g. climate change policies or development cooperation).
More specifically, students were required to work on: developing funding proposals for the evaluation of a project under the national climate initiative, a study on climate change and security, and a study on so called land-grabbing in developing countries.
In addition, theoretical debates were used to introduce the seminar; aspects discussed included different types of think tanks, different forms of consulting and lobbying, approaches to measure the performance of think tanks, the democratic legitimacy of policy consulting and different forms of consulting as well as guidelines for undertaking policy consultancy in the public interest. Last but not least Christiane Gerstetter and Doris Knoblauch explained to the students which methodological approaches stemming from the field of political sciences could best be used for their work.
The course favoredan interactive approach;students were required to form groups or teams to work on assignments, both during the classes when working on putting newly learned concepts into practice and when writing their papers to gain the full course credit.