Evidence for Decisions

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Public leaders must understand the complicated problems they want to solve, from child welfare to climate-friendly energy to citizen health and wellbeing. How do leaders leverage data to make optimized decisions? How do they verify that their programs are having the intended impact? In Evidence for Decisions, created by Teddy Svoronos, a lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, in concert with a learning team, you can acquire the skills necessary to demystify data and learn to leverage effective decision-making to change the world.

“This course is ideal for anyone seeking a graduate-level understanding of decision-making and evidence procedures for application in the public sphere.”

– John Strickland, PLC Learner, City of Murfreesboro

Program Highlights:

  • Learn that evidence about the world and evidence about the impact of programs are essential to making better and more informed decisions.
  • Participate in 100 percent online coursework, designed to fit into your busy life, featuring learning modules, case studies, and structured group activities.
  • Qualify for a potential pathway to the Harvard Kennedy School MC/MPA Program.

In Evidence for Decisions, you will harness the power of evidence and use it to understand the dimensions of a problem, measure effectiveness of policy, and update assumptions that lead to effective policymaking. You will develop skills with analytical tools for weighing tradeoffs and making decisions, and you will build a critical-thinking mindset for how evidence indicates a program is working – and when it is not.

The courses are designed for professionals with a minimum of five years of experience and a commitment to the public good. Learners do not need to have advanced experience with statistics. Participation in the program requires 10 to 12 hours per week dedicated to reading, viewing multimedia materials, participating in group learning activities and discussions with peers, and completing interactive assignments.

Evidence for Decisions comprises two courses: A and B. Learners must take the A Course before they take the B Course. Please see a list of the learning outcomes per course below.

Evidence for Decisions A: From Description to Decisions

  • Learn how to leverage descriptive evidence to better understand issues and make informed decisions.
  • Develop skills with analytical methods for complex problem-solving and weighing net benefits of decisions.
  • Apply systematic methods to analyze choices and trade-offs of policy options.

Evidence for Decisions B: Causes and Consequences

  • Learn how to carefully and systematically determine whether policies and programs impact the world.
  • Become versatile with evaluation of policy by understanding causal chains, counterfactuals, alternative explanations, and study designs.
  • Build better programs by knowing how to evaluate their impact with quantitative and qualitative indications of impact.

“First, we describe the world. Then, we act on it.”
– Teddy Svoronos

Faculty Lead

Teddy Svoronos

Teddy Svoronos
Faculty Lead, Evidence for Decisions, PLC
Lecturer in Public Policy
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Guest Lecturers

The following are faculty guests in the Evidence for Decisions courses:

Course A

Course B

Who Should Take These Courses?

The ideal learners for the Evidence for Decisions courses are passionate about assessing data and outcomes to determine how to target the right population for the right program, work within real-world constraints to monitor impact, and strengthen accountability for current and future programs. Learners who complete these courses will be equipped with the tools to assess outcomes and make better decisions at national and local levels, in large and small programs.

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