Organised by ESSEXLab, University of Essex

Application: please email Melanie to apply to attend this course.

Presenter: Professor Jake Bowers, Fellow of White House Behavioral Insights Unit and Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois.

Venue: University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, UK

This is a 13 hour course, with classes from 10-16:30 hr on both days. The detailed course outline is available upon request (

Students £250
Academics £300
External £350
There will be an 10% early bird discount for registration by April 10, 2017

Accommodation – participants are responsible for locating and booking their own accommodation

Course Content
Much is made of whether public policies and programs provide value for money, a positive social return on investment, or simply just whether they “work”. Only transparent evaluations and good quality evidence can answer those questions and help the public sector provide effective and efficient services. When good quality evidence is not available, policy makers should use high quality methods to find out what works.

To learn what works the ESSEXLab is organizing a two-day workshop at the University of Essex. Prof. Jake Bowers, Fellow of White House Behavioral Insights Unit and Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, will lead the workshop. The course will bring together academics and policymakers who share an interest in how rigorous insights from behavioural social sciences can help inform decision-making at local and state-levels of government. To this end, the workshop will discuss the benefits and challenges of collaborations between scientists and policy networks, and assess the costs and benefits of transparent evaluation of policies. The workshop will also introduce participants to state-of-the-art methods used understanding the efficacy of policy, including randomized control trials, observational data, and design-based thinking. Further, the course will provide ample opportunity for students and policy-makers to interact on selected policy challenges that are of interest to them, laying the groundwork for future collaboration and networks between academics and members of the policy community.

The workshop is addressed to Ph.D. students, academic researchers, and practitioners that wish to better understand how behavioural insights can contribute to better policy-making. The training may be beneficial in better understanding cutting-edge methods. It may also inform the design, execution, and monitoring of policy evaluation, more broadly. It may also help participants establish lines of collaboration between academics and members of the policy-making community.

Course prerequisites
This is an introductory course. Basic knowledge in statistics and quantitative research methods is not required but would be beneficial.

Jake Bowers associate professor of political science and statistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Fellow with the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) within the General Services Administration of the US government His research in applied statistics and political methodology focuses on questions about statistical inference for causal effects in randomized experiments and observational studies. His recent research on political behaviour has two main foci and groups of collaborators: with one group, he has been collecting large scale survey data about how people perceive their local communities using hand-drawn maps embedded in online surveys in Canada, the USA, and the UK; and with another group collaborators, he has launched a randomized field experiment and observational study to assess the effects of a new Hausa-speaking television channel in Northern Nigeria on social norms about violence, inter-group tolerance, and the roles of women and youth in society. He is also a founding member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics network and currently sits on its board of directors.