ASTK15713U SUMMER17: Nudge, Nudge. Information-based governance and policy design

Volume 2017/2018

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


Please find the schedule here:

  • Choose "Institut for Statskundskab"
  • Choose "2300-B5-5F17;Nudge, Nudge. Information-based governance and policy design"
  • Choose "Efterår/Authum uge 31-5"


Press "Vis skema"


Nudging has become the avant-garde of public governance and policy design since Thaler & Sunstein published their roadmap to more ‘health, wealth and happiness’ in 2008. We will spend one week of summer discussing the potentials and problems of the nudging agenda on a theoretical as well as a practical level. The summer school will deal with questions of the basic theory and rationality behind nudging, as well as concrete instruments and tools used in concrete nudging interventions and the construction of so-called ‘choice architecture’ across different policy fields. In contrast to the emphasis on behavioral economics and social psychology advanced by the nudging itself, we will proceed from the basic claim that nudging is to a large degree a modified version of the well-known forms information-based approach to policy instrumentation. However, we will also see that nudging interventions present a more radical and potentially innovative approach to information-based policy design.


Day 1: Nudging, ’libertarian paternalism’ and the third way + forget about behavioral economics

Day 2: Governance, the tools of government and nudging as policy design

Day 3: The public information campaign 2.0 + six techniques of nudging interventions

Day 4: Health + environment, energy and global warming

Day 5: Labor, savings and social risk management + education

Learning Outcome

Students will be acquainted with one of the leading agendas in the field and the underlying trends in public governance and policy. The course will focus on public policy and the role of politicians and officials, but it is a key point in the nudging debate that the role of ‘choice architect’ can be assumed by public as well as private actors, thus making the course relevant to functions in public as well as private organizations. Furthermore, the course will combine the practical view on the concrete tools of nudging interventions with high demands on the ability of students to know and comprehend the political and administrative background and implications of the nudging agenda.

Readinglist (indicative):

-Thaler, R. H. & C. R. Sunstein (2009): Nudge – Improving Decisions about Wealth, Health and Happiness, New York: Penguin Books

-Thaler, R. H. & Sunstein, C. R. 2003. Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an Oxymoron. The University of Chicago Law Review, 70, 1159-2001

-Sunstein, C. R. 2014. Why Nudge?, New Haven, Yale University Press.

-Alemanno, A. & Sibony, A.-L. (eds.) 2015. Nudge and the Law: A European Perspective, Oxford: Hart Publishing.

-Halpern, D. 2015. Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference, London, Ebury

-John, P. 2013. All tools are informational now: how information and persuasion define the tools of government. Policy & Politics, 41, 605-20.

-John, P., Cotterill, S., Richardson, L., Moseley, A., Stoker, G., Wales, C. & Smith, G. 2013. Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with Ways to Change Civic Behaviour, London, Bloomsbury Academics.

-Esmark, A. 2016: ’The Informational Logics of Liberal Democracy. Making Sense of the Nudging Agenda’, Information Polity, 21 .2016., pp. 123-137

-Legget, W. .2014. ‘The politics of behavior change: nudge, neoliberalism and the state’, Policy & Politics, 42(1), 3-19 

Active participation will be required throughout the course. All course days will consist of teacher presentations combined with discussion and student exercises. Students will be asked to design a nudging intervention in a chosen field.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner