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International and Public Affairs

The concentration in International and Public Affairs equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens. This concentration offers three tracks: Development, Policy & Governance, and Security. All students take a common core of five classes, beginning with a choice of thematic gateway lecture courses (ideally taken during freshman or sophomore year), and then building through a required junior seminar and a required senior seminar (eligible students may choose to write an honor's thesis to satisfy the senior seminar requirement). All students choose one of three tracks of substantive specialization: Development, in which students explore issues of human development in local and global contexts, and across both the developing world and advanced industrial settings; Security, which allows students to explore issues of security in both local and global contexts; and Policy and Governance, in which students explore the design, implementation, and evaluation of public policies to resolve societal challenges, as well as the governing structures that yield those policies. The concentration is committed to engaging students in the classroom, enabling research opportunities with faculty and in the field, and supporting experiential learning opportunities. Advisors' office hours and an online appointment scheduler are available here

Concentration Requirements

The concentration comprises 11 courses (12 for an honors degree). Students take a Gateway course, which introduces them to multidisciplinary perspectives on social challenges that cut across global regions. The Foundational course introduces students to central themes and texts in the three IAPA tracks: Development, Policy and Governance, and Security. Gateway and Track Foundational courses are not interchangeable or substitutable with courses offered in other concentrations. They should both be taken in the first or second year.

Once a student has chosen a track, they take five electives, selected from a pre-approved list for each track on our website. Approval of track elective courses not on the pre-approved list is permitted only in extenuating circumstances. Note that that list of electives is subject to change. We encourage students to cluster two or three of these electives around a region, theme, or social problem to create coherence in their plan of study and prepare for future work. 

Students also take courses in qualitative and quantitative methods (a high-level course in language instruction can substitute for one of the two methods courses). 

All International and Public Affairs concentrators take a junior seminar (1700 level) during the fall or spring semester of the junior year. The seminars, which are not track specific, focus on issues in international and public affairs that can be studied in comparative perspective, that can be subjected to multidisciplinary analysis, and that often cut across concerns about development, policy and governance, and security. The seminars are designed to help students hone skills of critical thinking, argumentation, and the design and operation of social science research and scholarship. Junior seminar students write papers on topics that can later be pursued as capstone or thesis projects. Junior seminars are not interchangeable or substitutable with courses in other concentrations. Junior seminars are typically WRIT-designated.

All International and Public Affairs concentrators complete a capstone course during their senior year. Designated IAPA Senior Seminars (1800 level) require students to write a research paper or extended policy brief that draws on analytic expertise, thematic expertise, regional expertise, and foreign language skills, if applicable. The capstone research project is typically about 20-25 pages in length. Senior capstone seminars are not interchangeable or substitutable with courses offered in other concentrations. Senior seminars are typically WRIT-designated. Eligible seniors may choose to write a two-semester honors thesis to satisfy the senior capstone requirement.


Students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance and scholarly achievement in the International and Public Affairs concentration have the opportunity to be recommended for graduation with honors. Students submit applications to the Honors Program in the spring semester of their junior year. Students who are graduating in December can apply for the honors program in the spring semester (their 5th) to complete their thesis in the 7th semester with the spring cohort.  

To apply, students must meet IAPA honors course and GPA prerequisites and turn in a well-developed social science research question, method, and bibliography along with a plan for completing the thesis by April of senior year. They must also have secured signatures of a primary thesis advisor and a second reader. Only those students with an approved thesis application will be permitted to enter the senior thesis seminar in the fall and /or receive thesis grant funding for the summer.

Concentration Requirements Summary
Gateway Course1
IAPA 0210
Life and Politics on the US-Mexico Border
Costs of War
Fiscal Plumbing 101: The American Tax State in Comparative and Historical Perspective
How We Compete: The Race for Industrial Supremacy Over Time and Place
Using Big Data to Solve Economic and Social Problems
Politics of the Illicit Global Economy
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Track Foundational1
Foundations of Development
Foundations of Policy and Governance
Foundations of Security
Track Electives (See tables below)5
Qualitative Research Methods 11
Ethnographic Research Methods
Methods of Social Research
Quantitative Research Methods 21
Introduction to Econometrics
What Works: Evaluating the Impact of Social Programs
Political Research Methods
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Junior Seminar 3
Displaced: How Global Systems Shape Refugee Families
Inequality, Policy, and Economics
Survey of Time: Temporality, Social Theory, and Difference
Justice, Gender, and Markets
Diplomacy, an Art That Isn't Lost
The Cold War in Latin America
American Education Policy in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Climate Change, Power, & Money
Animals and War
Beyond Refugeehood: Politics of mobility, border regimes, and humanitarianism
The Politics of Industrial Transformation
Governance from Socialist to Post-socialist China
Senior Capstone 4
Law and Public Policy
Politics & Journalism: A Practical Guide to How We Got Here and Where We’re Going
Prison Abolition as Policy
Rwanda Past and Present
Humanitarian Response in Modern Conflict
Diplomacy, Crisis, War in the Modern Era
Iran and the Islamic Revolution
Legal Methods for Public Policy
Overcoming Threats to Human Security
Democratization and Autocratization
Contemporary Digital Policy and Politics
Political Psychology of International Relations
IAPA 1816ASenior Honors Seminar1
IAPA 1817ASenior Honors Thesis1
Total Credits11

A comparable course from an outside department (including ANTH 1236, ANTH 1940, BIOL 1575, EDUC 1240, SOC 1117, SOC 1260, SOC 1340) may also be used.


A comparable course from an outside department including (APMA 1650, CLPS 0900, CSCI 0300, CSCI 0111, ECON 1620, EDUC 1110, EDUC 1230) may also be used.


Other 1700-level approved IAPA courses may also fulfill the Junior Seminar requirement


Other 1800-level approved IAPA courses may also fulfill the Senior Seminar requirement.  Students pursuing honors are required to take the IAPA Honors Seminar (IAPA 1816A or IAPA 1850) in the fall and a directed reading independent study with their primary thesis reader in the spring. 

Track Specialization and Electives

IAPA students must take the track foundational course associated with their track specialization (Development, Security, or Policy & Governance).  Track foundational courses are not interchangeable or substitutable with courses offered in other concentrations. Students select 5 elective courses from the list of pre-approved electives consistent with their track specialization. Approval of track elective courses not on the pre-approved list is permitted only in extenuating circumstances.  Note - the list of electives is subject to change.

Examples of track electives include the following: (Note that a full list is available on the IAPA website.)

Middle East in Anthropological Perspective
Anthropology of Homelessness
Current Global Macroeconomic Challenges
Economic Growth
Farm Planet: Hunger, Development, and the Future of Food and Agriculture
The Global British Empire, 1600-The Present
Economic Development in Latin America
Beyond Sun, Sea and Sand: Exploring the Contemporary Caribbean
History of the State of Israel: 1948 to the Present
Public Health in a Changing World: Law, Policy & Justice
The Rise of China
Security, Governance and Development in Africa
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World
Urban Asia: Beyond Tradition, Modernity, and Crisis
Cybersecurity and International Relations
Economics of Global Warming
Humanitarianism and Conflict in Africa
Victory, Defeat, and Everything In-Between: History, Strategy, and Politics
History of American Intervention
Nuclear Weapons
The International Law and Politics of Human Rights
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Migrants, Refugees and the Mediterranean
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives
African American Women's History
Anthropology of Addictions and Recovery
Deep Learning in Genomics
Intergenerational Poverty in America
The Economics of Latin Americans
Victory, Defeat, and Everything In-Between: History, Strategy, and Politics
Sustainable Design in the Built Environment
The Modern Chinese Nation: An Idea and Its Limits
Movement Politics in Modern America
COVID-19, Public Health, and Health Policy
Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice
Polarized Politics
Politics, Economy and Society in India
Criminal Courts and the Law in an Era of Mass Incarceration
The Political Foundations of the City