Next steps

Jeff Kupperman's picture

Next steps

Although the first draft of your proposal was due today, you should be continuously working on your proposal. Don’t wait until the last moment to update your proposal document -- add and revise in the document as you go. Your draft must include at least 3 good consultations (see below), and your final draft is due March 27.

Consultations

In light of the current situation, we know it may be difficult to contact consultants, but please give it your best effort. Although in past iterations of MSC we have required that consultations be done either in person or over the phone (still the ideal choice) you may conduct these over email if necessary. As always, please get in touch with Jeff and Michael concerning any difficulty you may be having with this.  

As noted in the syllabus, we are asking you to consult with at least three people outside of the MSC who have specialized knowledge or insight about the issue--but you may very well need to speak to a number of individuals before you determine who your consultants will be. Think of your consultations less as a requirement and more as resource: people with expertise in the area addressed by your proposal who can often spare you a great deal of research time and effort. 

Design better solutions

Ultimately, the point of the MSC is to come up with better solutions for the challenges facing students in the state of Michigan. You will be judged, both individually and collectively as a caucus, on how well your proposed solutions can meet the actual needs of students across the state.

Remember, you are crafting proposals to be presented to members of the state legislature, agency heads, and others who have influence on public policy in the state. Your proposal, therefore, must be something that can be done by the state government -- that means changing a law, creating a new law, making a new policy, or creating a program to be run by a state agency.

Allocating more money to one thing or another is only one kind of strategy, and it’s always a difficult argument to make, because everyone wants more money, and the money has to come from somewhere, either from another part of the budget (which others have fought hard to get, so they will fight you if you try to take it away) or from taxpayers (which directly or indirectly, is everyone).

Requiring or forbidding an activity can be a solution in some limited cases, but it’s also a difficult argument to make, because in practice, how will you make sure people are actually doing or not doing that thing? In other words, enforcement is always an issue.

So, what else can you propose? Here are some alternatives:

  • Permit an activity, organization, or kind of association that is currently forbidden, or that isn’t explicitly permitted.

  • Encourage a desired activity by providing incentives, or by making it easier or cheaper to do it.

  • Increase, decrease, or change regulations.

  • Give power to communities, or directly to individuals, to make decisions they cannot currently make.

  • Define goals, standards, or best practices.

  • Pool resources so that they can be used more effectively or efficiently.

  • Collect and disseminate information so that communities and individuals can make better-informed decisions.

  • Try a pilot experiment with a small population to gauge the effectiveness of a creative policy idea.

Lastly, if you want people to behave differently, directly teaching them is almost never an effective strategy. Instead, change their incentives, their environment, or the choices that are available to them.

And finally

The world has changed a great deal in the past few weeks. If you are finding that your proposal is not well attuned to the new reality, please don’t hesitate to make small or large changes to it. The point of the MSC, after all, is to come up with creative solutions to compelling needs of actual students in Michigan. Please reach out to the instructors or TCs if you want to discuss any of the above.