The project

The project’s aim is to help people learn how decisions are taken in the public sphere by covering the individual elements of the policy making process, placing special emphasis on non-incremental policy change.

P-CUBE will build an educational strategy game (the Policy Game) designed to teach different groups of people the theory and practice of public policy making; while the game primarily addresses HE students, it can also be useful to decision-makers, urban planners, NGOs, CSOs, social workers and scientists.

The prototype of the game will be developed during the project and presented to different audiences within various settings in Italy and internationally. The game will then be modified to incorporate their comments and suggestions.

We expect that, immediately after the Policy Game is released, and possibly even earlier in the project, the game will be inserted into, and sometimes form the core of, new curricula for HE and post-experience training in several policy fields.

In terms of impact, and in the medium to long-term, we hope and expect that one of this project’s outcomes will be to promote greater public engagement. The purpose is to contribute towards dispelling misconceptions about how innovations in public policies are introduced, by presenting the process through an interesting and realistic model. The game will help players to become more familiar with the complexities of public policy making and show that there are several ways to overcome the obstacles that prevent current governance systems from tackling collective problems.

Technical details

The basic assumption, supported by the literature on public policy studies, is that the dynamics of policy making processes are similar in different policy fields, yet the set of actors varies from one policy to another. The Policy Game has two objectives:

  • Showing how decisions in the public sphere are taken and what kinds of decisional strategies can be employed by the promoters of policy innovation.
  • Helping players/students/trainees to become familiar with the specific aspects of the policy fields in which they are involved.

The theoretical approach assumes that an actor wanting to introduce a non-trivial policy innovation (the policy entrepreneur) will be faced with obstacles arising from the opposition of other actors and/or the lack of necessary resources. In order to overcome these obstacles, the policy entrepreneur can use different strategies (distributing resources differently, modifying the content of the decision, transforming how actors interact, choosing the right timing for the decision) in various possible combinations. This approach has its roots in the classic works of Dahl and Lindblom, with a course being taught in several different settings. The literature review clarifies its basic assumptions, as well as the different elements that form its conceptual framework. The experience of teaching the course led to the idea of creating and introducing a game based within the conceptual framework, which can help students and others in their learning process.