Before beginning our policy analysis class, I had a narrow definition of what a policy is. It was either relegated to “stuff politicians argue about” or “you can’t buy Kleenex with state dollars” (yes, that’s a real policy at my institution. I bring my own).
In working on developing a problem statement that a policy could potentially help solve, I remained stuck on coming up with programs to mitigate the issue. My “a-ha” moment came during a discussion with Karen and a fellow classmate.
A policy can be as simple as a statement or commitment from an institution, that says HOW the institution will develop a framework to accomplish goals set out in the feel good mission or vision statement. Policies cannot (and indeed, perhaps should not) be divorced from values. They set the intention for the institution and for the programs that follow.
David Allen Green states that “a policy is about obtaining an outcome which otherwise would not be obtained but for that policy being in place” (2014, para. 12). When an institution places their commitment toward action in a policy, beyond their mission statement, it becomes implementable. Key also is communication, discussed earlier in this blog. If no one knows about the policy, how can action be taken? How can budget be applied?
Of course, this is a drastic simplification of the complex process that goes into developing effective and relevant policy, but has helped me understand how I can move from developing programs to solve problems, and think about elevating the issue to the realm of policy.
Emily Kirsch is International Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator in the Center for International Programs at Humboldt State University, CA.