For this assignment, you will write a 2 page (singled spaced) policy brief evaluating the current policy approach to infrastructure of a particular kind in a chosen city, and making recommendations for what the city should do next to improve this infrastructure.
IMPORTANT: The relevant lessons for this Assignment (2.1 and 2.2) explore issues of justice and equity in relation to infrastructure, and how access is shaped by intersecting dimensions of class, caste, gender, race, citizenship and so on. Your brief should therefore be focused on these dimensions, and explicitly explore and discuss uneven access to infrastructure, and how this can be improved.
WHAT IS A POLICY BRIEF?
"A policy brief presents a concise summary of information that can help readers understand, and likely make decisions about, government policies. Policy briefs may give objective summaries of relevant research, suggest possible policy options, or go even further and argue for particular courses of action." (UNC Writing Center "Policy Briefs").
A policy brief:
Is written for an informed, non-specialist audience (e.g. decision makers, NGO advocates, journalists);
Contains specific policy message designed to engage and convince key stakeholders;
Is used as a tool to start a conversation and/or get the interest of non-specialist audiences;
Only includes the key findings/points;
Must be very clear and simple – written in a professional, but not academic style.
The purpose of a policy brief is "To engage and convince your informed, non-specialist target audiences that your policy proposals are realistic, credible and relevant for the debate and decision on the target issue" (ICPA Guide to Writing Policy Briefs).
For this assignment, you should begin by choosing a city (outside of the United States) and a type of infrastructure to research.
Chosen city: Lagos, Nigeria.
Infrastructure type: electricity
Since this brief is relatively short, make sure to clearly identify and bound the type of infrastructure you will examine. For example, "water infrastructure" is too broad; choosing drinking water supply, sanitation, or flood management would be more appropriate.
Do your research. Use relevant course materials but you should find a minimum of 3-4 additional sources (either academic papers, policy documents etc.) to inform your writing, recommendations and conclusions.
You should primarily use peer reviewed academic articles and books, and other substantial, high quality sources, particularly when seeking reliable data. 3 or 4 media articles or web pages is not going to be sufficient. If you are not confident in your ability to assess sources, refer to this guide. You are always welcome to email me also for guidance.
NOTE: be wary of using policy briefs on your specific topic as sources for this assignment. There is the risk that you will over-rely on this source (e.g. citing it multiple times in a short space), which is a form of plagiarism. In order to ensure originality, I suggest you look at briefs on a different topic to determine the appropriate style, and other sources on your topic for content.
Outline your brief and begin writing. Your policy brief must be organized using the following sections.
1. A Title to communicate the contents of the brief in a memorable way.
2. Bullet-Pointed Executive Summary (1 Paragraph) an overview of the problem (context and cause), current policy, and the proposed policy action.
3. Context or Scope of Problem (1 paragraph) to communicates the importance of the problem and aims to convince the reader of the necessity of policy action.
4. Current Policy Landscape: This section discusses the current policy approach, its shortcomings, and why it is failing.
For this particular brief, pay attention to issues of access. Who currently has access to this infrastructure? Who does not, and why? What are the impacts of this on people's livelihoods, health, and/or environments?
Policy Options and Recommendations: Present (with evidence and supporting data) 3 policy options, and then make recommendations for what should be done.
Suggestions must be feasible within the particular political, economic and social context.
Anticipate your audience’s objections. Since you are trying to convince an audience who may not agree with your assessment, you need to be clear on why the current policy needs to be changed.
After evaluating and discussing the 3 policy options, this section recommends and provide an overview of concrete steps to be taken to address the policy issue.
This section should be fair and accurate, while convincing the reader why the policy action proposed in the brief is the most desirable.
REQUIRED SECTIONS NOT INCLUDED IN PAGE LENGTH:
Consulted and Recommended Sources These should be reliable sources that you have used throughout your brief to guide your policy discussion and recommendations. In text citations and essay formatting should be APA style.
Graphs/Visuals: You may also use supporting graphics/tables etc. (These will not be considered part of the total page length.) They must be labeled (e.g. Figure 1), titled (e.g. "Graph Depicting XXX", and referenced in the text (e.g. "See Figure 1, "As Figure 1 shows…". A source must be provided after the caption and included in the list of consulted sources.
Lessons 2.1 & 2.2 materials
Truelove, Y., & O’Reilly, K. (2021). Making India’s cleanest city: Sanitation, intersectionality, and infrastructural violence. Environment and Planning E: Nature and space, 4(3), 718-735.
Anand, N. (2011). Pressure: The politechnics of water supply in Mumbai. Cultural anthropology, 26(4), 542-56
Kasper, M., & Schramm, S. (2023). Storage city: Water tanks, jerry cans, and batteries as infrastructure in Nairobi. Urban Studies, 00420980221144575.
Silver, J. (2015). Disrupted infrastructures: An urban political ecology of interrupted electricity in Accra. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(5), 984-1003
Schwenkel, C. (2015). Spectacular infrastructure and its breakdown in socialist Vietnam. American Ethnologist, 42(3), 520-534