Alessia Damonte

Associate Professor, Dept. of Social and Political Sciences, UniMi (IT)
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Walk us through your resume: how did you get into the topic of your course?
I lost my heart to empirical analysis long ago, when I was an undergraduate in Ilvo Diamanti’s course in political sociology and he asked us to survey the opinions of our fellow students as an exercise. This was the first time I realized how enthusing research could be – from setting a proper research question through gathering suitable data until you see them taking the shape of findings that help you make a better sense of what is happening. I discovered public policy later, when I was a Ph.D. student. I was interested in why in some places people are better off than in others, and found public policy can yield good answers – the ones you can learn from and put into use to improve the existing state of affairs.

What will students learn by attending your classes?
I expect they will bring home how to shape effective arguments pro or cons a policy. The course does not assume any previous knowledge, thus at the beginning we will focus on what is in a policy that is so consequential. Then, we will move on claims that a policy did or will succeed: what supports them? and what undermines them instead? Next, they will learn to assess and explain such claims empirically. Last but not least, they will learn how to shape results depending on the stages of the policy process and on the audiences.

How would your students describe you?
Challenging. Usually, they recognize they learned something new from my courses – sometimes, they realize it after graduating and write me emails to let me know, which I really treasure — I think this is the main point of it all. Besides, they find I am available. I suppose they appreciate my efforts to not leave students behind if they do not want to.

Please, tell us something about yourself that’s not on your resume.
I love science fiction – Isaac Asimov, P.K.Dick, Douglas Adams… More generally, I love stories about possible worlds that make you laugh or think – possibly, both.