Project policy design in the EU


Designing a policy implies understanding the problem, identifying meaningful goals, and translating goals into suitable policy instruments, while also making provisions for policy evaluation and learning. Rather than to analyse and describe such processes in an abstract format, this course will allow you to learn what policy design involves in a hands-on experience. In a project centred around climate change, you will explore policy design for yourself, guided by the lecturer and the course materials.

In this course, you will be confronted with a very real and very urgent policy problem: how do we mitigate and manage climate change? We will assume that you are part of a work group that is commissioned by the Directorate General Environment of the European Commission to explore and assess four options for future climate policy: biofuels, emission trading, nuclear energy, and renewable energies. During eight weeks, you will work in a team that has to analyse one of these options. Step by step, the lecturers will help you to analyse the problems these policy options are meant to address, map the actors and stakeholders involved in these options, understand arguments in favour and against these options, and report on your findings

The setting is quite realistic. Not only are these options among the most passionately debated issues in climate policy, as you may have noticed in the media, but also the format is realistic. Policy documents are typically produced by small teams that get specific assignments and work under strict deadlines to explore issues they may be unacquainted with. This may seem a daunting task, but your work has been structured for you through specific questions that your team should address every week.

By the end of the course, your weekly assignments will add up to a report on your policy option. Your team will present its assessment during our very own Climate Conference. During the same conference, students from policy studies will present their assessments from the perspective of Dutch policy making.


EU policy design:

  • Get acquainted with the kind of activities involved in policy design
  • Appreciate the tensions between policy making and the context of expertise and of politics
  • Get a basic understanding of the specific problems of European policy making and multi-level governance


  • team work: manage meetings and cooperation
  • learn to gather and manage information
  • present your work
  • argue and debate your case
  • write a report

Contact: Dr Gonzalo Ordóñez Matamoros (STePS) and Dr Maarten Arentsen (CSTM)