The Case for Public Policy Expertise in Political Science
by Veronica Herrera, University of Connecticut and Alison E. Post, University of California, Berkeley
We show how public policy expertise improves political science research, promotes career advancement, and contributes to public life. While scholarship on the politics of public policy appears in top political science journals, political science graduate training does not place sufficient emphasis on the acquisition of expertise in particular policy areas. By policy expertise, we mean mastery of key issues, debates, institutions, actors, and technical factors that affect political struggles over policy design and implementation. We examine how developing policy expertise in areas such as healthcare, education, or environment can help scholars develop better measures and create theoretically innovative work, as well as increase access to academic positions and research funding. Perhaps most importantly, scholars with focused policy expertise are well positioned to engage public debates and defend the value of political science degrees and research in the public sphere.