- Master's Programme in Public Policy
- Jul 2021
- Core Course
Legal texts are central to the way in which the State translates public policy into action, particularly in the Global South. This course aims to prepare future public policy scholars and practitioners to understand and apply statutes and judgments as it pertains to their work of understanding, shaping or navigating the public policy landscape.
While the ‘rule of law’ expects that clearly articulated legal commands are understood and followed by citizens, the development of the body of law has clearly diverged from this goal. There is simultaneously an expectation that laws must be obeyed in a person’s personal and professional capacity, and a realisation that laws are too complex for someone who lacks training. Especially for a public policy professional, laws sit at the crucial juncture between State policy and state command. It is thus essential that public policy practitioners do not solely rely on others (often equally untrained commentators) to understand the meaning of a legal text.
While traditional lawyering approaches the law from a detailed ‘is’ perspective (i.e. what is the law on coastal preservation), public policy asks the ‘ought’ questions (i.e. what should the law be on coastal preservation). Introduction to legal texts for public policy students should therefore have the element of appraisal, rather than argument, in its approach. Keeping this in mind, this course will explore legal structures and techniques of interpretation through the lens of select contemporary public policy issues that are being mediated chiefly through laws and courts. The issues have been selected on the basis of their contemporaneity, gravity, and involvement of multiple legal instruments and arenas.