Case studies

Immersion in complex situations to generate responsible reactions

Case-based teaching is a dynamic form of pedagogy that seeks to insert students into complex situations. Combining different disciplinary approaches, its goal is to allow them to grasp from the inside the various stages and aspects of a public policy challenge (a reform, the merger of two institutions, the implementation of a project, etc.). Students are thus able to engage with, as well as evaluate, a decision-making or implementation process in different domains (public administration, new technologies, culture, energy, social innovation, etc.).

In so doing, they are made to inhabit — today for pretend, tomorrow for real — the world of responsible public policy actors: a dynamic and protean intervention, firmly oriented to the common good.

This module is required for all students in their second year at the School of Public Affairs (4 ECTS) in the fall semester (semester 3). Students meet with their professors every two weeks (12h / semester), leaving them time to work independently between sessions.

Some examples

  • The case study proposed by Hélène Périvier, an economist at the OFCE, explores a policy adopted by Facebook and Apple in the United States: in order to give women the opportunity to enjoy the same careers as their male counterparts, these major companies offer to freeze the eggs of their female employees, thus giving them the option of postponing motherhood until their careers are sufficiently advanced. Through this case study, students will be able to engage with the various aspects of this policy, as well as to critically evaluate it. For example, should we see in this initiative a mechanism for promoting gender equality or, on the contrary, a new form of the oppression of women by companies? Does the freezing of eggs constitute a satisfactory response to the dilemma of striking a balance between work and family life? The fact that these questions divide opinion makes them a renewed source of debate, and it is precisely these sorts of controversies that this case study seeks to highlight and provoke among the students.
  • In his case study — entitled “The merger of the French Treasury and the revenue service” — Philippe Parini, a high-level French civil servant, immerses students in the workings of French public administration in all its complexity. Bringing his own personal experience to bear — since he was himself a participant in this reform — Mr. Parini retraces the steps leading up to the decision and then implementation of this merger, which the students thus discover in a very concrete manner. Through role playing exercises, students have the chance to fully inhabit the respective pragmatic interests of the various parties involved.

View the case studies for 2017.