Summer School

Interpretive Policy Analysis Summer School: Conflict and sustainable futures - 3 ECTS

Meet the lecturers

  • Dr. Jennifer Dodge (University at Albany, NY)
  • Prof. Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar (Kings College London)
  • Prof. dr. Navdeep Mathur (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad)
  • Dr. Merlijn van Hulst (TiU)
  • Dr. Katharina Paul (University of Vienna)
  • Peter Matthews (University of Stirling)
  • Prof.dr. Maarten Hajer (UU, Urbun Futures Studio)

    This intensive PhD summer school (3 ECTS) will provide PhD candidates with in-depth knowledge of interpretive methodologies and theories to understand and intervene in conflicts about sustainable futures. The summerschool focuses on methodological innovations that take an integrated approach to the social, cultural, ethical and actionable dimensions of knowledge production, both by academics, as well as by practitioners from industry, government, and non-governmental organizations. An interpretive approach recognizes that knowledge, practices and policy process are “constituted and mediated through communicative practices” (Fischer and Gottweis, 2012:2), and seeks to develop new ways of useable and critical knowledge production such as co-production and deliberative policy analysis. Conflicts can be focal points for the problem defintions, understandings, ideologies, organizational routines and practices, identities and action preferences of a range of actors in a complex policy system. By making conflict productive, the creative potential in the system can be unleashed and harnessed towards epistemically and democratically inclusive solutions. The central theme of the summer school is conflicts and collaboration for sustainable futures. Participants will explore possible ways of understanding, analyzing, explaining and intervening in these complex transitions to more sustainable societies.

    In the morning lectures will be given. In the afternoon interactive sessions take place.

    Lecturers: dr. Jennifer Dodge (University at Albany, NY), dr. Tamara Metze (WUR); Prof. Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar (Kings College London); Prof. dr. Navdeep Mathur (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad); dr. Severine van Bommel (WUR); prof. dr. Esther Turnhout (WUR); dr. Merlijn van Hulst (TiU), dr. Katharina Paul (University of Vienna); dr. Marleen Buizer (WUR); dr. Iulian Barba-Lata (AMS); dr. Peter Matthews (University of Stirling);  dr. Art Dewulf (WUR).

    Key note: Prof.dr. Maarten Hajer (UU, Urbun Futures Studio): Research by Design

    Key note on Thursday is open for general public, if not participating in summerschool - please register at (costs: 10 euro)

    Course fee

    Early bird fee before May 1st: WASS, PE&RC and WIMEK/SENSE PhDs with TSP, AMS PhDs 300 euro
    All others 600 euro
    After May 1st: WASS, PE&RC and WIMEK/SENSE PhDs with TSP, AMS PhDs 400 euro
    All others 700 euro

    NB1: for some courses, PhD candidates from other WUR graduate schools with a TSP are also entitled to a reduced fee. Please consult your Education/PhD Programme Coordinator for more information

    NB2: Phd candidates from LMIC that are not supported by their institute can apply for a grant to cover the fee. Two students from ECPR member institutions without support of their institute can apply for a grant of 250 euro.

    Accommodation suggestions


    • You will recieve the 5 texts 3 weeks prior to the meeting in a shared dropbox folder.
    • We will assign you to a study group. Please schedule a meeting with your group about 1 week before the summer school to discuss the readings through a skype call with other participants.
    • After your meeting, write a short summary of the readings, and record your questions. You can do this individually or as a group.
    • Prepare individually a statement about a ‘puzzle’ you are grapping with: what is it that you are investigating for your PhD that you want to further develop with help of this summerschool? This can be a theoretical, practical or methodoogical puzzle.
    • Upload your summary and questions from the reading, as well as your 'puzzle' to the shared dropbox folder. We will use this information in one of the sessions of the conference.

    Day  1 (Monday): Introducing theories and methods of interpretive policy analysis

    9:30 – 12:30hs Dynamic discourse coalitions and how interpretive conflicts contribute to sustainability

    Lecturers:  dr. Jennifer Dodge (University at Albany) and dr. T. Metze (WUR)

    In this introductory lecture we will engage students in discussions about the Interpretive Turn (Fischer and Forester, 1993; Wagenaar, 2011) that introduced hermeneutic and discursive methods to the analysis of public policy. We will elabrate on the Interpretive Turn by focusing on the Dynamic Discourse Coalition (DDC) approach and how it can illuminate the ways policy controversies contribute to or delay sustaiable transitions. In policy controversies, actors use discursive boundary work to convince various audiences of their position. Discursive boundary work is a communicative strategy that involves the framing of facts in contrast to other kinds of arguments. We present the DDC approach to study how discourse coalitions deploy discursive boundary work to confirm, integrate, polarize or disintegrate their own and opposing discourse coalitions. Students will have an opportunity to practice interpretive policy analysis by applying the DDC approach to a set of texts on one policy controversy.

    13:30 – 17:30hs Interactive lecture by dr. Navdeep Mathur: The man from Earth          

    Navdeep Mathur will seek to frame the viewing of The Man from Earth as an exploration in the the ontological foundations of the interpretive method and inquiry in research. Through interactive questioning and providing space for articulating »the scientific gaze«, assumptions that underlie positivist modes of inquiry will be exposed. This process will seek a collective inter-subjective understanding of the formation of inquiry within disciplines and of claims on knowledge production. This understanding forms the ontological foundation of the interpretive orientation, and attempts to enliven inquiry in the direction of knowing as lived experience.

    18:00hs Welcome DRINKS

    Day 2 (Tuesday): Practice theory and relational approaches

    9:30-12:30 Practice based approaches and practical transformations

    Lecturers:  prof dr. Hendrik Wagenaar and dr. Jelle Behagel (WUR) (dr. Mattijs Schmit, WUR, tbc)

    Relational, non-dualist approaches to policy analysis and planning are important in addressing some of the most vexing issues of our age. A central feature of relational approaches to policy analysis is that they operate in close interaction with the everyday world of public policy and the society. This is especially important in a world that is characterized by dynamic complexity, conflict, urgency and unpredictability. Problems such as climate change, migration, the erosion of democracy and the ascent of relatively successful non-democratic forms of governance, the difficulty of transnational governance, mass surveillance and the demise of privacy, the governance of pluralist and conflicted urban spaces, and massive private and national debt, are not only beyond the pale of traditional policy approaches and instruments but also do not have much margin for error nor allow for procrastination. Practice based approaches to these issues offer a framework ties critical analyses to a clear and consistent conceptual vision that inspires practical transformations. We will enter the rich and varied field of practice theory through the window of dynamic complexity. The question that guides this session is: If we take complexity serious, how do policy makers and analysts navigate complexity?

    12:30-13:30 Lunch

    13:30- 17:30 Practice based approaches: methodology workshop and a practice seminar

    Methodology workshop (13:30-17:30): masterclasses and indepth and constructive feedback on research proposals and papers by students by prof. dr. Henk Wagenaar, dr. Jelle Behagel (WUR) or dr. Mattijs Smits (WUR).

    13:30- 18:30 Practice seminar Urban Practices (co-creation and living labs)

    13:30-14:00 Social learning in living labs – a short introduction by dr. Iulian Barba-Lata (AMS)

    What are factors that could enable effective learning environments for co-creation and social innovation? Urban living lab methodologies are further refines in this lecture, whereby enrolment through play is considered to facilitate new ways of linking social inclusion objectives to broader agendas on sustainability and economic competitiveness.

    14:00-18:30 A living Lab: densification or gentrification?

    The city of Amsterdam has an urban planning program for 2025 with an ambition to build 50.000 new houses within the city. The strategy is called 'densification'. In this living lab, we will experiment with knowledge co-creation and social learning about the case of densification in Amsterdam. We will build on earlier work by students of the WUR, by academics in an planners- workshop, and engage with policy practitioners, planners, and citizens from the city of Amsterdam.   

    Tamara Metze (WUR), Marleen Buizer (WUR), Iulian Barba-Lata (WUR) In  collaboration with  the city of Amsterdam,  David Laws (UvA, tbc)/ Martien Kuitenbrouwer (UvA, tbc) and / Jasper de Vries (WUR)/Cody Horstenbach (UvA, tbc)

    Day 3 (Wednesday): Frame analysis and storytelling: making sense of conflict and sustainability

    9:30 – 12:30hs Framing and storytelling

    Lecturers: dr. Art Dewulf, dr. Merlijn van Hulst and dr. Severine van Bommel

    In the world of politics and public administration, agents engage in framing situations and events all of the time. In addition, they tell stories that connect events, agents and settings, emplotting what has been going on and what might still happen. In this lecture we discuss both framing and storytelling. We start with the background and core elements of an interactive, dynamic approach to frame analysis. We also explain how such a frame analysis might be done. In the second half of the morning, we turn to storytelling, asking where, when, how, and for what reasons stories are told and how researchers might analyze stories and storytelling. The analyses are demonstrated with many examples.

    12:30-13:30 Lunch

    13:30-17:30 Methodology workshop: masterclasses and indepth and constructive feedback on `research proposals and papers by students by dr. Merlijn van Hulst (TiU); dr. Art Dewulf and dr. Severine van Bommel (WUR), dr. Imrat Verhoeven (tbc).

    13:30-17:30u Seminar:  Interpretive policy analysis: how to do field work?  

    In this interactive seminar students will be trained in the capacity building practices of interpretive field work, drawing on Dvora Yanow’s pedagogical techniques. In order to do so, they will participate in 'field work exercises' that will help them to critically engage in “observing interpretively”, long form interpretive conversational interviewing, and learning to listen to the stories that objects , for example the built environment, tell.  Students will participate in role playing excercises; sensitize and reflect on their interview and observation techniques, and work with simulations. The main goals is to be sensitized for what usually is left unnoticed, value laden, and towards subjectivity as empirical.

    19:00u Social program, tba

    Day 4 (Thursday): Urban Futures: sustainability and conflict

    9:30-10:45 Methodology workshop masterclasses and indepth and constructive feedback on research proposals and papers by students by dr. Peter Matthews, dr. Tamara Metze, dr. Navdeep Mathur.

    11:00 – 12:30 Key Note Lecture Prof. Dr. Maarten Hajer Research by Design

    In this key note, Prof. Hajer will talk about the dynamics of imagination, how a ‘performed vision’is created, how we should understand the performative power. In order to do so, he introduces the concept of ‘Techniques of Futuring’ (ToFs), outlined in the literature: practices aimed to create shared fictional expectations. This second primary concept allows us to empirically examine how governments, companies and other actors mobilise the future in the present. This is naturally something of a hopeless task, as an endless number of variants of ToFs can be devised, at a range of levels of abstraction. We will concentrate less on the well-known ToFs such as scenario studies, backcasts and cost-benefit analyses, instead focusing keenly on techniques in which imagination is actively utilised (see also inaugural lecture UU 2017)[1].

    12:30-13:3- Lunch

    13:30-17:30 Research by design in practice

    Jesse Hoffman (UU) ; Tamara Metze (WUR), Efrat Gommeh (WUR), and others.

    In this 'research by design' workshop, students will experiment with material interventions in public spaces. »Research through art and design is a material-based research, development work and action research: practical experiments in laboratories resulting in reports and step-bystep diaries, clear about what is being achieved and communicated through the activity of design process. Research for art and design is development work whose end product is an artefact, where the thinking is embodied in the artefact and the goal is not primarily communicable knowledge in the sense of verbal communication.« (Christopher Frayling 1994)

    19:00-21:30 DINNER

    Day 5 (Friday):  Critical perspectives and Interpretive methods

    9:30 – 10:30 Queer(y)ing policy: how are queer perspectives missing from policy analysis and what might they offer?

    Lecturer: Dr. Peter Matthews

    In 2009 in her plenary address to the International Interpretive Policy Analysis conference in Kassell, Hawkesworth suggested that the lack of attention to feminist research within IPA was "sanctioned ignorance". In this lecture I want to suggest the same is true of queer theory. While IPA and queer theory have similar philosophical roots in post-structuralism, as a body of work IPA has not used queer theory to understand policy. This lecture will use one example of policy implementation - the delivery of housing and homelessness services - to suggest the ways in which policy can be "queered". Going back to Hawkesworth's plenary, it will be argued that just as the sanctioned ignorance of feminism meant IPA ignored women's lives and experiences, so the ignorance to queer theory means it has ignored queer lives. In conclusion, it will be suggested that If IPA wants to advance social justice through its research, it must challenge heteronormativity as part of its theoretical challenge.

    10:45 – 12:30 The politics of knowledge: Part I

    Lecturers: Prof. dr. E. Turnhout (WUR) and dr. Katharina Paul (University of Vienna)

    Concepts of knowledge and expertise are key to our understanding of contemporary policymaking, particularly so in policy areas that typically rely on biomedical or natural scientific expertise, such as public health and environmental policy. The lecture lays out the the different roles experts play at the science-policy interface, the political implications of policy-relevant knowledge, and the participation of citizens in knowledge making. Second, the lecture draws attention to the role of knowledge infrastructures – such as administrative databases but also advisory committees – and how these shape and enable some policies, and hinder others. Finally, we discuss the conceptual but also methodological tools that interpretive policy analysis offers for critically engaging with experts and possible roles for interpretive researchers as critical experts informing governance.

    11:30-12:30 Lunch

    12:30 – 15:30 The politics of knowledge Part II

    Lecturers: Prof. dr. E. Turnhout (WUR) and dr. Katharina Paul (Vienna University)

    In this workshop session, we first discuss the recent re-emergence of »citizen science« as a form of knowledge production. Based on a selection of case studies, we discuss the potential of citizen science to (i) inform policy but also to (ii) resist conventional, expert-centered policymaking. In an exercise, participants assess this potential based on provided materials. Specifically, students learn how to assess technologies of governance in the selected case studies, and how they enable and constrain local actors and subject positions.

    16:00 Farewell drinks



    Indiviual paper of research proposal.


    After registering for the summer school, students will receive a reading list at least 3 weeks prior to the start of the conference, and should come having read the material.

    Minimum of 20 participants and a maximum of 40.

    Cancellation conditions:

    The participants can cancel their registration free of charge 1 month before the course starts. A cancellation fee of 100% applies if a participant cancels his/her registration less than 1 month prior to the start of the course.

    The organisers have the right to cancel the course no later than one month before the planned course start date in the case that the number of registrations does not reach the minimum.

    The participants will be notified of any changes at their e-mail addresses.