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