Case studies

Immersion in complex situations to generate responsible reactions

The case study method is a proactive pedagogy aimed at immersing students in the heart of a complex situation. Through a transdisciplinary approach, the purpose is to enable them to understand from the inside the different stages and facets of a case in the public sphere (reform, merger of two institutions, implementation of a project, etc.). Students will thus have the opportunity to understand and evaluate a decision-making or implementation process in different sectors (private or public) and fields (public administration, digital, culture, energy, social innovation, etc.). The case study brings them to embody, today in a fictitious way, tomorrow in a real way, the actors of public action: an action resolutely oriented towards the common good.

The module is compulsory for Master students at the School of Public Affairs and is a mandatory course in second year (it is a core course). As such, its validation is mandatory and corresponds to 4 ECTS credits. The module consists of 6 sessions of 2 hours each, for a total of 12 hours. Sessions are held every other week to allow students to work independently between each session. Assignments are requested by the teacher between each session. The module is subject to an attendance requirement and students will be assessed on the basis of contrôle continu (continuous monitoring).

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.
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