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STEAR Event Recap - Policy Memo Workshop with Professor Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario

On Sunday, February 12th, STEAR hosted an internal policy memo writing workshop, led by speaker Professor Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario. Professor Cruz-Del Rosario is a Senior Research Associate with the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore and as International Development Specialist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

An experienced Senior Researcher and Educator with a demonstrated history of working in research and teaching for over thirty years, her skills and specialisations include International Development, Historical and Political Sociology, Socio-Cultural Analysis, Public Policy, and Comparative Asian Studies.

Through an expert masterclass presentation and small group workshops with feedback, the event enabled participants to gain real-time theoretical and practical understanding of the expectations and techniques necessary to research and write a strong, well-crafted policy memo.

After a round of icebreaking activities, whereby STEAR participants were able to gauge their level of familiarity and experience with policy drafting, Professor Cruz-Del Rosario began her public policy and policy memo writing masterclass. Defining the nature, objective and target audience of policy memos, she explained Public Policy is about public welfare. Purposive, deliberate, authoritative, it is normative, and centres around the government’s decision to act or not to act.

Professor Cruz-Del Rosario then delved into the process of policy analysis and memo writing, breaking it into five steps:

  • (1)Problem identification/ Setting an agenda

  • (2)Analysis: Options/Scenario setting

  • (3) Decision-making

  • (4) Implementation

  • (5) Feedback.

She then set out the tenets of the funnel model for policy analysis, which adopts a broad-to-narrow approach. The funnel begins with A) defining the policy problem, B) gathering data, C) shifting the data and building evidence, D) reporting findings, laying out policy options, E) providing one’s preferred policy choice, F) restating the policy problems and stating conclusions.

Using the case study “Is there gender disparity in Southeast Asia”, our speaker stressed key aspects to focus on when drafting the memo. She emphasised the importance of concision (the memo should be contained within 800 - 1200 words) accessibility, readability, intentionality and the clear prioritisation of information in data presentation.

When presenting policy scenarios, Professor Cruz-Del Rosario used an example of Covid-19 response policy options to highlight the appeal of presenting three options to one’s client - up to five being the maximum.

During the Q&A session, questions were fielded regarding the softwares, websites used for creating infographics, diagrams, how to address policy issues one feels one lacks in depth technical or scientific knowledge for, how to find data for countries which are not always transparent with data, big issues to avoid in memo writing, and how closely policy analysts work with specialists. Following this, participants were moved into break out rooms to work on case studies, including gender quotas in Indian politics, primary education in Pakistan, and a Chinese municipal infrastructure project. Finally, STEAR participants regathered in a colloquium to discuss their findings and share feedback.

The policy workshop combined theoretical learning and real-time practical experience to give STEAR members a comprehensive introduction to the world of policy analysis, policy memo writing and data presentation. The results will undoubtedly be channelled into action as our STEAR members continue forwards on their respective academic, policy-related or business-oriented pathways.

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