Experimentalism in Theory and Practice (20418). 2 units. Since the 1970s the efforts of the activist state to provide services and establish regulations underpinning inclusive growth, social welfare and environmental improvement have been severely hampered by the shortcomings of the public bureaucracies charged with achieving these goals. The premise of this class is that, in response, a form of post-bureaucratic service provision and regulation is emerging, piecemeal and in the shadow of established institutions, in the United States, the European Union, and some transnational regimes. These post-bureaucratic regimes authorize “local” units—the frontline workers providing services or the district of regional authorities supervising them; the private actors under regulatory oversight—to exercise discretion in pursuing policy goals in particular contexts, provided that the local units report their results according to jointly agreed metrics and participate in peer reviews. This forward-looking or dynamic accountability encourages local experimentation while allowing for rapid correction of failure and the generalization of success. Governance of this kind is experimentalist in the sense of pragmatists like John Dewey because it systematically provokes doubt about its own assumptions and practices; it treats all solutions as incomplete and corrigible; and it produces an ongoing, reciprocal readjustment of ends and means through comparison of different approaches to advancing shared, general aims.The first term of this class will explore the theoretical foundations for these claims and illustrate their application through case studies of child welfare, problem-oriented policing and food safety in the United States, regulation of hazardous chemicals and GMOs in the European Union, and the Montreal Protocol for elimination of ozone-depleting substances. The concluding sessionsevaluate the claim that experimentalist institutions can be a key component in the renewal of the welfare state and representative democracy.
See the spring-term description for further information. This course can be taken in both the fall and spring terms, or taken only in the fall term. Paper required. Enrollment limited to fifteen. C. F. Sabel.
Note: Students are encouraged to take both terms but some may elect only to take the fall-term, theoretical half of the course. No new students will be admitted in the spring semester.
Course Selection: In addition to listing this course among permission-of-instructor selections, students should submit a CV and a one-paragraph statement of interest by the close of the fall pre-registration period on June 26.