Policy Workshop Series

The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School currently offers the following policy workshops:

Click here for a list of past facilitators


Dynamics of Public Policy Development

Dynamics of Public Policy Development is an orientation workshop that provides Saskatchewan public servants with an introduction to public policy making. The one-day workshop familiarizes public servants with 1) the policy process including: problem definition, proposal of alternative solutions, selection of a solution, policy design and implementation, and program evaluation; and 2) the structures of government. The workshop also discusses the role of the public servant in the democratic process and considers their responsibilities as part of the Government. Participants will be asked to contribute to discussions on the modernization of the policy process and explore the role of public servants in the Westminster system. The day will consist of two lectures given by each of the facilitators, several open discussions and two case studies. Participants will learn how government works, how policy is made and the best methods for providing advice to Ministers and senior officials.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with the policy making process;
2) To review the structure of government and the principles of the Westminster System;
3) To discuss how the last ten years has changed policy development; and,
4) To supply participants with methods for how to provide Ministers and senior officials with evidence-informed yet politically feasible policy advice.

Comparative Public Policy

Comparative Public Policy is a workshop aimed at providing Saskatchewan public servants with comparative analysis knowledge, skills and tools. Saskatchewan has a strong record in exporting and importing policy experiences. Due to globalization and communication growth, the comparative approach is even more accessible and relevant. In this perspective, this session will provide participants with a dual understanding: on one hand, why it is useful to compare cross-national and cross-provincial public policies, and on the other, how it is possible to compare them.

The 3 key goals of this workshop are:
1) To provide public servants with the terminology and core concepts in comparative analysis;
2) To supply participants with the main challenges and appropriate methods for choosing pertinent case studies within Canada and abroad; and,
3) To learn how comparative analysis may be used to find, fine-tune and funnel pioneering and resourceful policy options to decision-makers.

Preparing Better Cabinet Decision Items

Memorandums to cabinet, called Cabinet Decision Items (CDIs) in Saskatchewan, are the single most important decision-making tools used by cabinet governments. Preparing Better Cabinet Decision Items is a one-day workshop designed to provide Saskatchewan public servants with the knowledge and skills to prepared superior memorandums to cabinet. The workshop will review the decision-making context in which CDIs are used to better understand their function and ultimate purpose. After being provided with an overview of the typical CDI and its organizational structure, participants will work through each of the individual components based upon selected policy issues requiring decision. Through this exercise, participants will learn lessons as well as obtain tips and guidelines that will allow them to prepare and write higher quality CDIs in the future.

The three key goals of this workshop are:
1) To appreciate the logic behind the use of CDIs through an understanding of the decision-making structure of cabinet government;
2) To analyze the components that make up a CDI including their individual and collective purposes and functions; and,
3) To provide participants with some guidelines on how to write CDIs more effectively.

Negotiation

We are constantly negotiating in our personal and professional lives. Effective negotiation has a significant impact on our ability to reach our goals. Public servants negotiate both within the bureaucracy, and with the general public, over matters as diverse as the adoption and implementation of public policy, intergovernmental affairs, supply contracts, labour issues, and, of course, budgets. Few of us are born negotiators - most hone our skill through trial and error. This workshop will provide an opportunity to think systematically about how we negotiate and to experiment with our bargaining skills in a non-threatening context. Lecture and exercises will be used to explore how to analyze a negotiation problem and set goals. We will consider good cooperative and competitive bargaining techniques and the principles that guide the choice of strategy. We will look at bargaining tactics that help with problem solving and managing difficult people. Time will be spent on listening and communication skills and ethical questions will be raised at appropriate points. At the heart of our day will be several role-play simulations in which participants, both individually and in groups, will negotiate one-on-one, and multi-issue, fact situations modeled on governmental issues.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To suggest a method for analyzing negotiation problems;
2) To identify factors for choosing appropriate bargaining strategies and tactics;
3) To improve, through role-play, communication, negotiation and problem-solving effectiveness; and,
4) To raise self-confidence so that negotiations are fun, not dreaded.

Policy Analysis in the Government of Saskatchewan

Policy Analysis in the Government of Saskatchewan is a workshop designed to provide Saskatchewan public servants with policy analysis knowledge and skills. The one-day workshop familiarizes participants with key concepts and the dominant approaches used to analyze policy alternatives and provides them with a standard guide to policy analysis. The workshop also supplies public servants with appropriate methods for selecting criteria, measuring success and providing good policy advice to their Ministry. Topics that will be covered include feasibility, efficiency, effectiveness, comparative policy analysis, gender based policy analysis, impact assessment and costing analysis. The day will consist of two lectures, an applied exercise, a case study and several open discussions. Participants will learn how policy analysis should be used to improve government outcomes, serve the democratic process and provide assistance to decision makers.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize participants with the key terminology and core concepts of applied policy analysis;
2) To provide a structured approach to applied policy analysis;
3) To introduce different approaches to analyzing alternative policy options; and,
4) To supply public servants with the tools to provide effective, efficient and politically feasible policy advice.

Evaluation

The Evaluation workshop provides Saskatchewan public servants with an introduction to monitoring and evaluating government programs. The one-day workshop familiarizes participants with the main approaches to program evaluation and discusses how program success may be measured. Topics to be covered in the workshop include formative and summative evaluation, meta-analysis, performance management, benchmarking, and program evaluation design. The workshop demonstrates how program evaluation is used to improve program outcomes and ensure that the program is meeting its targets and achieving its purposes. Participants will be asked to contribute to discussions and partake in several applied exercises. The day will consist of a lecture given by each of the facilitators, several open discussions and two case studies. Participants will learn how to comprehend evaluation reports, interpret findings and design an evaluation plan.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with the key terminology of program evaluation;
2) To learn the key steps in program evaluation;
3) To provide participants with an understanding of the different types of evaluation and how to measure success; and,
4) To learn how to design an evaluation plan.

Problem Solving for Public Servants

Problem Solving for Public Servants provides Saskatchewan public servants with tools and strategies to cope with uncertainty and complexity in policy development. The one-day workshop familiarizes participants with political, economic, scientific and public uncertainly and discusses the impacts of such modern complexity as globalization, internationalization, shifts in political and administrative culture and new information technologies The workshop demonstrates how specific policy tools can be applied to define policy problems accurately and mitigate risk.

Participants will be asked to contribute to discussions and partake in a several applied exercises and cases studies. The day will constitute of a lecture given by each of the facilitators, several open discussions and 3 case studies. Participants will learn what how to use contextual analysis, risks assessment and needs assessment in defining problem, managing risks and coping with uncertainty.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with policy complexity and conditions of uncertainty;
2) To learn how to define a problem;
3) To provide participants with strategies for dealing with budget constraints, limited capacity and time pressures; and,
4) To learn how to avoid risk and remain innovative.

Gender-Based Analysis

The Gender-Based Analysis workshop will provide participants with a set of theoretical and applied skills in gender-based analysis. The workshop will introduce such key concepts as gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting, equality and equity. Participants will learn about various gender-based tools used in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programs including gender-disaggregated data, gender-sensitive equality indicators, gender-sensitive guidelines and gender-sensitive criteria. In addition, participants will be provided with a basic knowledge of international treaties and global agreements on women's right. The workshop will also explore the responsibilities and functions of women's policy machinery in Saskatchewan and Canada. The session will consist of two lectures, several open discussions and a case study. Participants will learn how to conduct a gender-based analysis and explore the process of gender mainstreaming as it relates to effective policy making.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To introduce public servants to gender-based analysis;
2) To review existing gender inequalities and associated consequences on policy development and decision-making;
3) To discuss Canadian international commitments to gender mainstreaming; and,
4) To supply participants with a basic methodological approach to conducting gender-based analysis.

Research and Policy Analysis

Having adequate data to ensure well-informed policy analysis is crucial for today's public servants. The Research and Policy Analysis interactive workshop explores how to find the quantitative and qualitative data needed, how to select appropriate data, and how to best present the data collected. Data can be gathered from existing sources or collected for specific purposes to inform policy analysis. In some cases public servants are faced with not having enough information while at other times there is a wealth of information to choose from; choosing the appropriate data is key. Being able to incorporate and present the data as part of policy analysis in the best possible way will ensure that your audience(s) can use the information presented to support their work. Workshop participants will participate in a series of interactive lectures and discussions throughout the day, working through a series of case studies.

The five key goals of this workshop are:
1) To identify the role(s) data can have in policy analysis;
2) To identify ways of accessing existing and new data sources;
3) To discuss approaches to assessing the quality and utility of data for policy analysis;
4) To identify the strengths and weaknesses of various kind of data; and,
5) To present data in the most useful way(s). 

Logic Models

Designing new programs and evaluating performance by assessing impacts and outcomes is a critical aspect of evidence-based decision making. Logic models describe how a specific program is intended to solve problems in terms of program activities and service delivery. Such models are used for the systematic assessment of how well a program addresses the needs of all participants and how effective the program is in addressing its mandated targets. This workshop introduces learners to program theory using visual representations and investigative learning. The day will consist of a lecture, an applied exercise and two case studies. Participants will learn how to interpret and develop logic models for use in program formation, monitoring and evaluation

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To introduce public servants to logic models in theory and practice;
2) To review different types of logic models;
3) To discuss the appropriate use of logic models in the design and evaluation of policy and programs; and,
4) To supply participants with a basic methodological approach to creating logic models.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Cost-Benefit Analysis workshop provides Saskatchewan public servants with an introduction to the basics of cost-benefit analysis. Topics to be covered in the workshop include: cost-benefit analysis and opportunity cost; discounting and Net Present Value NPV (versus Internal Rate of Return - IRR); discount rates; accounting for inflation (nominal versus real dollars); the cost of taxation; the valuation of costs and benefits without market prices; the misuses of multipliers; risk analysis; and the link with cost-effectiveness analysis. Participants will be asked to contribute to discussions and partake in several applied exercises. The day will consist of short presentations given by each of the facilitators, extensive open discussions and the completion of at least one example.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with the key terminology of cost-benefit analysis;
2) To understand the various components of a cost-benefit analysis;
3) To provide participants with an opportunity to work out some hands-on examples; and,
4) To provide participants with an understanding of how to evaluate cost-benefit studies.

Collaborative Policy Making

The workshop examines various components of collaborative policy making including the skills, knowledge and strategies used to develop collaborative solutions to complex public policy issues. Topics may include negotiation in complex multi-party policy disputes, collaborative leadership, collaborative organizational learning, governance network analysis and management, and public participation. This workshop provides Saskatchewan public servants with an introduction to developing policy through consensus-driven dialogue and participatory practices, familiarizes participants with consensus as both a process and outcome and explores various strategies that may be used to craft solutions in both the planning and implementation processes. Public Servants will become familiar with several different consultations approaches including closed, direct, deliberative and participatory, and will learn to use a basic actor mapping technique to identify who should be invited to collaborate. The day will consist of lectures, an applied exercise and two case studies.

The three key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with different approaches to collaborative policy making;
2) To discuss when it is appropriate to engage citizens in the planning and implementation processes; and,
3) To provide participants with strategies to identify and include key actors in collaborative policy development.

Preparing Briefing Notes

Preparing Briefing Notes provides Saskatchewan public servants with an introduction to writing government briefing notes. The one-day workshop familiarizes participants with different types of briefing notes, key components, structure, and writing and communication styles. Public Servants will learn to target the information according to the intended audience. The workshop also provides a basic template to be followed when preparing briefing notes and reviews appropriate writing styles. The day will consist of two lectures given by each of the facilitators and two case studies. Participants will learn how to structure and write an informational briefing note, and communicate effectively in providing advice.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with the types of briefing notes;
2) To review the purposes and functions of briefing notes;
3) To provide participants with a style guide for writing briefing notes; and,
4) To learn how to effectively communicate information. 

Project Management

Governments typically manage projects and achieve outcomes with limited resources and under tight time constraints. This extensive one-day workshop will provide an overview of the principles that underlie project management and will cover the fundamental skills needed to enhance the outcome of any project. This workshop is specifically designed for working professionals who plan, manage and implement projects, especially for those with an interest in integrating project management skills, concepts and tools into a comprehensive framework. The program will help individuals develop a strong understanding of the project management life cycle and apply this knowledge effectively within their ministry or branch.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with the basics of project management;
2) To help participants develop a strong foundation of knowledge on the project management life cycle;
3) To educate participants on how to apply this knowledge effectively within an organization; and,
4) To teach participants how to use public resources in a more timely and efficient manner.

Public Service Ethics

What are the ideals and moral principles of the public domain? Is it naïve to see public sector employees as motivated by public-spirited altruism? Civil servants are government employees, with duties and responsibilities assigned to them by their Minister or by civil servants above them in the hierarchy. Are they also “professionals”, with an obligation to say “no” when they are asked to do something which they deem to be unprofessional? When a civil servant or public official sees/hears/discovers conduct which s/he perceives to be illegal or unethical, is it ever permissible or even sometimes obligatory to “blow the whistle”? How should one decide? These questions and issues will be explored both theoretically and practically, with reference to what is and what should be happening currently in Saskatchewan and, more broadly, in Canada.

The four key goals of this workshop are:
1) To familiarize public servants with competing views about the ethos and ethics of public service;
2) To help participants identify some moral and value issues confronting public servants;
3) To provide participants with ethical tools to assist them in thinking about these issues; and,
4) To discuss alternative possible answers to each problem and to determine which answers are more and which are less defensible.

Advanced Policy Application

This workshop is open to individuals who have completed six or more workshops and the session is limited to six participants.

The purpose of the Advanced Policy Application workshop is to provide Saskatchewan public servants with the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge learned in other workshops to a real-world policy challenge. Participants will take part in a detailed policy analysis exercise with the facilitators.

Topics for this advanced workshop have included “Federal/Provincial/Intergovernmental Relations,” “Duty to Consult,” and “Analysis and Evidence for Good Public Policy.”

Legislative Processes

The Legislative Processes workshop will describe how policy becomes legislation, as well as what choices and considerations are available in order to have the resulting draft legislation introduced in the Assembly for debate and decision. It will also discuss enactment and promulgation when the Act is agreed to by the Assembly. It will cover how the legislative system works (amendments), as well as why and how the process does not always result in legislation being passed. The workshop will also cover how draft legislation is used by members and their respective caucuses in the Assembly. Examples of various approaches regarding legislation will also be discussed. The workshop will touch on dealing with Members (Ministers, backbenchers and opposition members) as well as their respective staffs, in a non-partisan, legislative environment.

The 4 key goals of this workshop are:
1) To offer insight into the dynamics of the legislative environment;
2) To explain the process of how public policy choices become draft legislation in order to be debated in the Assembly;
3) To explain the various ways in which the Assembly can deal with public policy and legislation; and,
4) To explain how the public may participate in the legislative process in Saskatchewan.

Policy Planning Cycles

The Policy Planning Cycles workshop will describe the government planning cycle, describe the individual activities within the cycle, aénd explain how the individual activities interact with each other. The role of policy analyst, senior management and the elected government within the cycle will also be addressed. Finally, a look at accountability issues around policy planning cycles will be addressed as each cycle has its own form of accountability.

The 4 key goals of this workshop are:
1) To offer insight into the dynamics of the government planning cycle;
2) To explain details of planning cycle activities (strategic planning, budget planning, legislative cycle and annual reporting) within the context of the legislative cycle;
3) To engage in dialogue about the overlap of cycles; and,
4) To describe the role of the public service and the elected government in each of the cycles.

Social Media in the Public Sector

The Social Media in the Public Sector workshop will examine the instruments, applications, and purposes of social media in the public sector context. The one-day course will provide participants with a functional knowledge of social collaborative technologies and the implications for government. Participants will be introduced to various Web 2.0 practices including crowdsourcing, co-production, social networking, blogging, and wikis, and will be supplied with a functional understanding of the various digital instruments available. The workshop will also explore key purposes of soial media applications including communication, citizen-centered service delivery, and public engagement. In addition, various challenges to successful social media implementation will be discussed, as will emergent performance management approaches. The day will consists of lectures, social media demonstration, and applied exercises.

The 5 key goals of this workshop are:
1) Introduce public servants to key social media and Government 2.0 concepts;
2) Review different social media instruments, applications, and purposes;
3) Discuss some of the key social media challenges facing the Saskatchewan public sector;
4) Supply participants with a working knowledge of when and where digital tools will advance public sector goals and priorities; and,
5) Review provinicial best practices in social media (Highway Hotline's Twitter Account, Tourism Saskatchewan's use of YouTube and other communities and the Saskatchewanderer contest).

The Duty to Consult and Accommodate: A Practical Application of Saskatchewan's First Nation and Métis Policy

The Duty to Consult and Accommodate: A Practical Application of Saskatchewan’s First Nations and Métis Policy interactive workshop will provide participants with an overview of the legal framework of the Duty to Consult. It will define the Duty to Consult, describe its origins, and discuss why the Duty to Consult is important. Participants will also review the current policy framework and discuss overarching policy, policy applications, guidelines, and interest-based consultation. Participants will be provided with scenarios and practical examples that apply the Duty to Consult policy.

The 4 key goals of this workshop are:
1) To review the history and factors that triggered litigation, eventually leading to the subsequent case law and precedents that created the legal framework of the Duty to Consult;
2) To discuss Saskatchewan’s Duty to Consult policy framework and practical approaches to ensuring meaningful consultation that achieve continued responsible resource development that encourages Aboriginal participation;
3) To have a better understanding of the legal framework of the Duty to Consult; and,
4) To understand the Duty to Consult policy framework and its practical applications.


Past Facilitators

The attendees of the Policy Workshop Series have indicated that one of the most valuable aspects of the series is the unique teaching pedagogy. Facilitators of the series always endeavor to create a balance between a research-based academic approach and an applied approach, which is why we typically pair policy academics with policy practitioners to facilitate workshops.

Past and Present Facilitators of the Policy Workshop Series include:

  • Michael Atkinson, Executive Director and Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Associate Member, Department of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan
  • Daniel Béland, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public Policy, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Associate Member of the Sociology Department, University of Saskatchewan
  • Loleen Berdahl, Associate Faculty, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Associate Professor of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan
  • Sylvain Charlebois, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, College of Management and Economics, University of Guelph
  • Raelynn Douglas, Director of Performance Management, Ministry of Finance, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Bruno Dupeyron, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Assistant Professor of Law, University of Regina
  • Ian Hanna, Chief of Staff for Intergovernmental Affairs, Executive Council and Office of the Premier, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Robert E. Hawkins, Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Professor of Law, University of Regina
  • Heather Heavin, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and College of Law, University of Saskatchewan
  • Dylan Jones, Associate Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Executive Council and Office of the Premier, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Grant Kerr, Consultant
  • Seonaid MacPherson, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ministry of First Nations and Metis Relations, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Rick Mantey, Cabinet Secretary and Clerk of the Executive Council, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Greg Marchildon, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public Policy and Economic History (Tier 1), Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Jim Marshall, Senior Policy Fellow, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Mitch P. McAdam, Director of Aboriginal Law, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Kathy McNutt, Associate Professor and Graduate Chair, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • John McKenzie, Manager of Strategic Corporate Development, SaskPower
  • Janet Mitchell, Assistant Executive Director of Strategic Policy, Ministry of Social Services, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Haizhen Mou, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Rupen Pandya, Assistant Deputy Minister of Immigration Services, Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Dan Perrins, Director of Outreach & Training, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Peter Phillips, Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Associate Member of Bioresource, Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan
  • Ken Rasmussen, Associate Director and Associate Dean, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Jeremy Rayner, Professor and Centennial Research Chair, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Andrea Rounce, Assistant Professor of Political Studies and Chair of the Joint Master of Public Administration Program, University of Manitoba
  • David Rosenbluth, Manager of Evaluations, Ministry of Social Services, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Arthur Schafer, Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of Manitoba
  • Brian Schumacher, Lecturer of Business Administration, University of Regina
  • Mike Shaw, Council of CEOs
  • Jennifer Wallner, Assistant Professor of Political Studies, Public Administration Program, University of Ottawa
  • Wynne Young, Executive-in-Residence, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Lihui Zhang, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Kenneth Ring, Q.C., Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
  • Shelley Whitehead, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Central Service
  • Reg Urbanowski, Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister on Post-Secondary Education, Ministry of Advanced Education
  • Madeleine Robertson, Q.C., Former Senior Crown Counsel, Government of Saskatchewan
  • Glen Gardner, Director, Dispute Resolution Office, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General
  • Murray Fulton, Professor and Graduate Chair, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • M. Rose Olfert, Professor, JSGS and Department of Bio-Resource Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan
  • Clare Isman, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance
  • Ron Crowe, Consultant
  • Sonia Eggerman, Crown Counsel, Aboriginal Law, Saskatchewan Justice and Attorney General
  • Karen Bolton, Director, Aboriginal Consultations, Saskatchewan Government Relations
  • Iryna Kryvoruchko, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Andrew Clarke, Director of Digital Strategy & Operations with Communications Services, Executive Council
  • Jeff Armstead, Digital Business Consultant with Communications Services, Executive Council