, Volume 37, Issue 3-4, pp 209-225
Date: 30 Dec 2005

What future for the policy sciences?

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Abstract

The term “policy sciences” refers both to a distinctive tradition within the policy movement and to the broader policy movement itself. While the generic use of this term is sure to persist, the community of policy scientists trained in the tradition founded by Harold Lasswell and Myres S. McDougal faces challenges to its sustainability as a distinctive tradition of the policy movement. To motivate open discussion and debate, this essay follows the logic of a problem-oriented analysis, and also includes personal reflections and anecdote, with the following objectives: It suggests that the policy sciences tradition faces challenges to its sustainability because of the simple arithmetic of generational turnover in university faculty. It explores six factors internal and external to the policy sciences community militating against sustainability. The essay then critiques three different roles the policy scientist might play in contemporary academia, and concludes with a discussion of alternatives that might enhance the sustainability of the policy sciences tradition, should sustainability indeed be a desired outcome.