Master of Coastal and Ocean Policy


Science, Policy and Politics

Students of the Science, Policy and Politics course explore issues arising at the interface of science and policymaking through various themes that change occasionally.

Fall 2016

During the Fall 2016 semester, students focused on teh topic of "knowledge controversies."  The phrase gets to the heart of many political issues at teh interface of science and policy as interests value and rely on differnt knowledges and ways of knowing in order to support their perspective.  

As their final project, students worked in a group to create a public website that maps a knowledge controversy about beach (re) nourishment projects (also called storm damage reduction projects. You can find the website here (

Fall 2015

During the Fall 2015 semester, students focused on the topic of "evidence based decision making." The phrase has distance roots yet remains the goal of many policymakers and issue advocates seeking policy change.

As their final project, the students worked in groups and took part in a mock Copenhagen Consensus exercise. The Copenhagen Consensus brings together some of the world's greatest minds to prioritize, evaluate, provide solutions and allocate resources towards the most difficult and pressing societal problems.


Similarly, students developed priorities and decisions about how to allot $75 billion towards solutions for all or a subset of the problems mentioned in their text or any other issue meriting attention. The amount of money represents a 15% increase in current spending. Their decisions relied on extensive evidence available in the scientific literature and their very dense class text that provided much cost benefit analysis data.

Here are the excellent and well thought-out outcomes of their final assignment. Given each group developed a unique answer, clearly, the translation of evidence to policymaking is not as direct as many would hope.

Some, but not al,l had group names. Clicking on the image will bring you to a larger version.

Fall 2015 Copenhagen Concensus Excercise outcome