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ReSPoS Summer School 2014

Summer School
Research Strategies in Policy Studies (ResPoS)


Villa Durazzo • Santa Margherita Ligure
June, 16-20 2014


What explains outcomes? How can we think causality in policy research?
In the last decades, social sciences have come to pay an increasing attention to these questions. Sociology, economics and political science have all borrowed from the debates that usually engage the philosophers of science in order to justify special methodological preferences.
Such wide spread awareness has uncovered a new source of scholarly pluralism: while some agreement seems to exist on the mechanistic nature of causation, different research fields conceive and detect causes in dissimilar ways.
What brings an outcome about can be understood as either an observable or an unobservable process, as either a sequence or a configuration of occurrences, as either a universal or a very local phenomenon – even limited to a single case at a special time-point.
Research strategies all take a position on each issue – although sometimes implicitly. Yet, techniques are heavily constrained in their analytical capacity by the specialbeliefs about causation that they embody.
The ReSPoS Summer School 2014 aims at raising researchers' awareness about the causal beliefs embodied into different strategies for policy studies, the special research design and data treatment that they require for results to be sound, and the effects that they have on the usability of such results.
In the first day, the keynote speech introduces the issue from the perspective of philosophy of science, while the following days are each designed for uncovering the causal assumptions of a special technique and their operational consequences in actual research.


• Program•

Mon 16
Gauging Causality

keynote speech by
Julian Reiss
University of Durham


Tue 17
Explaining Implementation Success
with Social Mechanisms

Bruno Dente
Politecnico di Milano
Simone Busetti
Politecnico di Milano


Wed 18
in Program Evaluation

Erich Battistin
Queen Mary University of London & IRVAPP


Thu 19
Explaining policy performance by
configurations of tools with QCA

Alessia Damonte
Università degli Studi di Milano
Camilla Borgna
WZB Berlin


Fri 20
Explaining policies as network configurations
of actors and events with APES

Christian Hirschi
ETH Zürich


• Applications, Admission & Attendance

The School welcomes applications from any interested major or graduate students, or researcher. Candidates can simply send their CV and a motivation letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before April, 30.

The School however has a structural limit on its enrollment. In case, preference will be given to candidates with some previous knowledge of policy studies and a clear interest in empirical research.

Admissions will be communicated by e-mail before May, 11. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, they are free of charge. Admitted candidates will be also given further information about readings and logistics.

The School regrets it is unable to further help admitted candidates with their travel and stay costs. A list of suitable accommodations will be provided on request.

The School will certify 24 hours of attendance. Candidates interested in such a certificate are kindly required to indicate it when applying.


• Accommodation

The School has made an agreement with "Istituto Colombo" ( concerning the sojourn of students attending the Summer School. Double, triple and even four-bed rooms with private bathroom are available to the students at the moderate price of 18 euro per night (upon a one-time 5 euro registration fee to the association managing the accommodation facility).


• Sponsorships

The ReSPoS School is a project of the NASP-West (Network for the Advancement of Social and Political Sciences in North-West Italy) supported by Compagnia di San Paolo and Cariplo

The School has also been endorsed by the Società Italiana di Scienza Politica - SISP.


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