Public opinion has become increasingly important for government decision-making. Public opinion informs governments of the larger forces at work in the society and economy, and assists governments in policy development, communications development and program evaluation. But public opinion is not a monolith; it takes on many forms such as segmented audiences, “opinion leaders”, and interest groups. This seminar will explore the nature of public opinion, how it is measured, and how governments and other clients such as the media and political parties use public opinion research. The course will examine recent developments in research techniques and the opportunities and challenges inherent in the current public opinion research environment. As a special focus, we will look at the opinion polling in the 2015 federal election and what it may tell us about public policy.
Students will emerge from this course with a critical understanding of public opinion and an ability to assess and ask the right questions about public opinion research that they will encounter in their professional settings and in media reports of public opinion research. As well, they will develop a better knowledge of research techniques and strategies.
Prospective students for this seminar include those who work in and close to the public policy community including those in the public service, non-governmental organizations, political parties, and the media, and those working in public affairs and government relations within the private sector.
Instructor: Donna Dasko, Ph.D.