• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Policy and Governance
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Ruth O'Connor
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Summer Session 2024
    See Future Offerings

Available for on-campus & remote (online) learning. Students participate in interactive, real-time classes. 2024 class dates: Feb 19, 26, 27 & Mar 4 .

The benefits and challenges of developing policy informed by evidence have been widely discussed by scholars and are illustrated by the response of governments to the covid-19 pandemic. It is generally agreed that considering up to date evidence is important for robust policy, what is less clear is what constitutes evidence or knowledge and who can be considered an expert, especially as lines of ‘fact’ versus ‘opinion’ become increasingly blurred and calls for the democratisation of knowledge challenge conventional hierarchies.  Studies have shown that policy-makers rely, at least in part, on trusted knowledge sources who may be colleagues, academics or others with experience and content knowledge relevant to the issue at hand. These different sources of expertise, informal knowledge sharing pathways and social interactions are part of the knowledge systems in which policy-making is situated.

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in public policy-making and governance. Case studies will draw substantially on the  environment domain, where the concepts have largely developed, but will explore the implications for other domains. It will firstly explore knowledge systems as one conceptualisation that can be useful to policy-makers and how it has evolved from other deficit type conceptualisation. Another key component of the course is examining the variety of communication and knowledge co-production mechanisms by which knowledge is created and shared as potential ‘solutions’ to traditional knowledge-based hierarchies.. By exploring some of the better studied systems pertinent to the Australian public-policy domain such as academic Indigenous knowledge systems, students will be encouraged to think reflexively about the types of knowledge they can draw upon and the opportunities and barriers in doing so.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Identify the different elements of knowledge systems relevant to policy.
  2. Demonstrate a working knowledge of different mechanisms for knowledge generation and communication.
  3. Critique the factors that privilege particular epistemologies in specific policy contexts.
  4. Apply the knowledge system framework to describe and analyse policy development.

Indicative Assessment

  1. In class presentation (20) [LO 1,3]
  2. Short essay (1000 wds) (30) [LO 2,4]
  3. Written plan (1500 wds) (50) [LO 1,2,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The standard workload for a 3 unit course is 65 hours including class time and independent study.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Unit 1. Understanding knowledge systems

Cash, D. W., Clark, W. C., Alcock, F., Dickson, N. M., Eckley, N., Guston, D. H., . . . Mitchell, R. B. (2003). Knowledge systems for sustainable development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(14), 8086-8091.

Muñoz-Erickson, T. A., Miller, C. A., & Miller, T. R. (2017). How cities think: knowledge co-production for urban sustainability and resilience. Forests, 8(6), 203. 

Tengö, M., Brondizio, E. S., Elmqvist, T., Malmer, P., & Spierenburg, M. (2014). Connecting diverse knowledge systems for enhanced ecosystem governance: The multiple evidence base approach. Ambio, 43(5), 579-591. 

Unit 2. Linking knowledge and policy

Norström, A. V., Cvitanovic, C., Löf, M. F., West, S., Wyborn, C., Balvanera, P., . . . Österblom, H. (2020). Principles for knowledge co-production in sustainability research. Nature Sustainability.

Roux, D. J., Nel, J. L., Cundill, G., O’Farrell, P., & Fabricius, C. (2017). Transdisciplinary research for systemic change: who to learn with, what to learn about and how to learn. Sustainability Science, 12, 711-726. 

Unit 3. Critique and application

Díaz, S., Demissew, S., Carabias, J., Joly, C., Lonsdale, M., Ash, N., ... & Zlatanova, D. (2015). The IPBES Conceptual Framework—connecting nature and people. Current opinion in environmental sustainability, 14, 1-16.

McCullough, E. B., & Matson, P. A. (2016). Evolution of the knowledge system for agricultural development in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(17), 4609-4614.

Oliver, K., Kothari, A., & Mays, N. (2019). The dark side of coproduction: do the costs outweigh the benefits for health research? Health Research Policy and Systems, 17(1), 33.

Wyborn, C. A. (2015). Connecting knowledge with action through coproductive capacities: adaptive governance and connectivity conservation. Ecology and Society, 20(1). 


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
3 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

3.00 0.06250
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $2220
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $3180
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
On Campus
1507 19 Feb 2024 19 Feb 2024 01 Mar 2024 24 Mar 2024 In Person View
1508 19 Feb 2024 19 Feb 2024 01 Mar 2024 24 Mar 2024 Online View

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