Ecologic University Course on Think Tanks Policy Consulting (2012)
What does policy consultancy mean in practice? What is a think tank and what does it do? These and other questions were discussed by Doris Knoblauch and Gesa Homann within the framework of a teaching assignment at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences. Some 40 students from the bachelor program participated in the block seminar, which was split into three two-day blocks.
This was the third summer term in which Ecologic Institute Fellows taught the course as so called “practice partners.” Students were introduced to the institute’s work and the day-to-day functioning of an environmental think tank using real-life examples. The students were taught the relevant professional capacities needed in such a workplace (e.g., presenting information in an appropriate way for decision makers, team work, self-reflection) and also acquired knowledge on current political topics (e.g., climate change policies or development cooperation).
In addition, theoretical debates formed an important part of the seminar; aspects discussed included the different types of think tanks, the different forms of consulting and lobbying, approaches to measure the performance of think tanks, the democratic legitimacy of various forms of consulting as well as guidelines for undertaking policy consultancy in the public interest. Last but not least, methodological approaches stemming from the field of political science formed part of the curriculum.
By taking part in the International Degree Course in Policy Management, students are prepared for the following activities:
- Positions in parliaments, authorities and administrations, parties, associations, and similarly structured organizations like businesses and consultancies.
- Consultancy in local, national, supra-, trans- and international government positions, public institutions, and non-governmental organizations.
- Fellowship in the field of political communication and public affairs like press offices.
- Institutional organization and human resources management in politically active organizations.