Call for feedback and input on longterm policy book proposal

Kon­rad Seifert and I are writ­ing “a field guide to place fu­ture gen­er­a­tions at the core of policy-mak­ing”. To make it max­i­mally rele­vant to the EA com­mu­nity, please, ask us re­lated ques­tions, share crit­i­cism and give feed­back on the cur­rent ver­sion of the book pro­posal.

Let us know your thoughts, ques­tions and feed­back in the com­ments or via email by 31 July 2020. Thank you in ad­vance!

Read the full pro­posal here (~2700 words). Or get a quick overview be­low:


Longter­mist schol­ar­ship still needs to trans­late its ideas into policy change to achieve large-scale im­pact. Our book has two goals:

  1. Foster co­or­di­na­tion and al­ign­ment among longter­mist policy prac­ti­tion­ers by equip­ping them with (1) mod­els to un­der­stand policy-sys­tems; (2) tac­tics to en­gage in policy-mak­ing; (3) strate­gies to im­prove poli­ti­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing; and (4) an agenda for fur­ther re­search.

  2. Provide ev­i­dence-based ad­vice for ro­bustly benefi­cial policy en­gage­ment by com­bin­ing in­sights from se­nior prac­ti­tion­ers with the re­search on so­cial and be­havi­oural pro­cesses of policy-mak­ing.


The tar­get au­di­ence con­sists of policy prac­ti­tion­ers, in­side and out­side of gov­ern­ment, and schol­ars of the policy pro­cess.


  • Semi-sys­tem­atic liter­a­ture re­views; and

  • Over 30 in­ter­views with se­nior prac­ti­tion­ers and re­searchers.


Longterm Poli­ti­cal De­ci­sion-mak­ing: A Field Guide to Place Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions at the Core of Policy-making


Hu­man civ­i­liza­tion faces risks, such as large scale pan­demics and cli­mate change, which likely have harm­ful con­se­quences for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, rang­ing from com­plete ex­tinc­tion to cur­tailed po­ten­tial. For civ­i­liza­tion to sur­vive and flour­ish, poli­ti­cal in­sti­tu­tions play an im­por­tant role in build­ing re­silient sys­tems through large-scale co­or­di­nated ac­tion. Yet, fu­ture gen­er­a­tions are cur­rently ne­glected in policy-mak­ing due to his­tor­i­cal path-de­pen­den­cies and prac­ti­cal difficul­ties. This book builds on forty years of re­search de­vel­op­ing policy mechanisms to rep­re­sent fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Speci­fi­cally, the book fills a gap be­tween re­search and ac­tion by pro­vid­ing guidance on (1) un­der­stand­ing policy sys­tems; (2) benefi­cially en­gag­ing in policy-mak­ing; and (3) de­sign­ing strate­gies to strengthen de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Geared to­wards policy-mak­ers and aca­demics, the book pro­vides di­rec­tions for fur­ther re­search and prac­tice.

Table of content


Chap­ter 1: A ra­tio­nale for longter­mist poli­ti­cal de­ci­sion-making

  1. What is longter­mism?

  2. Why are poli­ti­cal in­sti­tu­tions key to safe­guard fu­ture gen­er­a­tions?

  3. Why are cur­rent poli­ti­cal in­sti­tu­tions short-ter­mist?

  4. Policy prob­lems, solu­tions and in­sti­tu­tional mechanisms for mak­ing policy-mak­ing longtermist

  5. What is needed to con­vert ideas into policy change?

Chap­ter 2: Un­der­stand­ing the re­al­ity of policy-making

  1. Defi­ni­tions and illustrations

    1. What is policy?

    2. What is policy-mak­ing?

    3. What is gov­er­nance?

    4. What are poli­ti­cal in­sti­tu­tions?

    5. What is poli­ti­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing?

  2. Un­der­stand­ing policy-mak­ing as a system

  3. Sys­tem’s mov­ing parts

    1. Policy actors

    2. Poli­ti­cal behaviour

    3. Policy networks

    4. Policy environments

  4. Mechanisms of policy change

    1. What do we know about the dy­nam­ics of policy change?

    2. How do col­lec­tive de­ci­sions emerge from the in­ter­ac­tions of mov­ing parts?

    3. How do in­di­vi­d­u­als, groups and in­sti­tu­tions learn over time?

  5. Lev­ers to in­fluence policy-making

    1. In­fluence the in­for­ma­tion supply

    2. Shape in­for­ma­tion processing

    3. Change net­work structures

    4. Change sys­tem rules

Chap­ter 3: En­gag­ing in policy-mak­ing: ev­i­dence from ad­vo­cacy, lob­by­ing and epistemic communities

  1. What can we learn from the liter­a­ture on in­fluenc­ing policy-mak­ing?

  2. Methodology

  3. Ev­i­dence strength

  4. Themes

    1. Defi­ni­tions of and differ­ences be­tween ad­vo­cacy, lob­by­ing and epistemic communities

    2. Im­pact path­ways for in­fluenc­ing policy-making

    3. En­abling con­di­tions to in­stru­men­tal­ise im­pact pathways

    4. Strategy

    5. Tactics

    6. The im­por­tance of networks

    7. The im­por­tance of framing

    8. Re­marks on ev­i­dence-based advocacy

    9. Ethics

    10. Mon­i­tor­ing eval­u­a­tion and learning

  5. A frame­work to ro­bustly en­gage in policy-making

    1. Define the con­text: the fit be­tween en­try points and what to ad­vo­cate for

    2. Un­der­stand policy pro­cesses and contexts

    3. Choose a co­or­di­nated, in­sider, col­lab­o­ra­tive and multi-level strategy

    4. Net­work net­work, frame frame

    5. Cul­ti­vate prag­ma­tism to hedge against idealism

    6. Pre­serve, ad­just and sustain

  6. Limitations

Chap­ter 4: A quasi-sys­tem­atic re­view of four strate­gies to strengthen poli­ti­cal de­ci­sion-making

  1. Quis cus­todiet ip­sos cus­todes? Who guards the guardians them­selves?

  2. Four strate­gies to strengthen poli­ti­cal de­ci­sion-making

    1. Multi-crite­ria de­ci­sion analyses

    2. Se­ri­ous games

    3. Nudging

    4. Diversity

  3. Methodology

  4. Results

    1. Search and re­view results

    2. Strength of evidence

    3. Strat­egy ex­pected impact

  5. Limitations

Chap­ter 5: An agenda for re­search and prac­tice for mak­ing policy-mak­ing longterm

  1. Study­ing policy-making

    1. Con­ver­gence of theories

    2. Cur­rent gaps

    3. Mov­ing from static the­o­ries to com­pu­ta­tional models

    4. Ex­plor­ing foun­da­tional laws of policy-mak­ing systems

  2. In­fluenc­ing policy-making

    1. Trade-offs

    2. Risks

    3. Recommendations