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Public Policy

Housed in the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the concentration in public policy is organized around the interdisciplinary and comparative study of human societies, but with a particular focus on the rules and norms by which we govern ourselves. The concentration is grounded in the analysis of pressing social problems and the design, implementation, and evaluation of better policies and practices. This commitment to using knowledge to improve the life chances of people who occupy different positions of wealth and power, and who have competing and contentious ideas of about the common good, makes public policy a value-laden and political enterprise that is as much an art as it is a science. It is also a team sport that requires players with different skills and talents to work together across a wide variety of settings.

Students will learn how social, economic, and political issues become the object of public policy, how policy decisions are crafted, made and implemented, as well as different strategies for evaluating their impact. The concentration draws its instructors from a wide variety of disciplines and offers students opportunities for engaged scholarship at the local, national, and global levels. With the support of the advisory team, students develop their own curriculum of study, integrating core courses with electives, internships, independent research, and a capstone experience.

Required Courses: 10 courses + capstone

Core Courses:
PLCY 0100Introduction to Public Policy1
Ethics and Public Policy1
Ethics and Public Policy
Good Government
Economics for Public Policy1
Intermediate Microeconomics
Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical)
Economics of Education I
Statistics for Public Policy1
Political Research Methods
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction to Econometrics
Econometrics I
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation1
Program Evaluation
Evaluating the Impact of Social Programs
Elective Courses: 1, 2
Three Broad Elective Courses: May be taken in any policy area3
Two more electives in one of the areas you have already studied2
Sample electives may include the following:
Health Policy
Comparative Health Care Systems
Emergency Medical Systems: An Anatomy of Critical Performance
Case Studies in Public Health: The Role of Governments, Communities and Professions
Health Policy Challenges
Technology Policy
Cybersecurity and International Relations
GIS and Public Policy
Technology and International Politics
Science and Technology Policy in the Global South
Environmental Policy
Environmental Economics and Policy
Environmental Law and Policy
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Current Topics in Environmental Health
Governance, Law, and Ethics
State and Local Government
Congressional Leadership, Parties and Public Policy
City Politics
Topics in American Constitutional Law
Social Policy
Welfare Economics and Social Choice Theory
Social Welfare Policy in the United States
Policies Affecting Working Families
Juvenile Justice Institutions and Policy
Human Needs and Social Services
Urban Policy
Urbanization in China
Urban Policy Challenges: Spatial Inequality in Metropolitan America
Urban Revitalization: Lessons from the Providence Plan
Comparative Development
Housing and Homelessness
Modes of Social Change
Nonprofit Organizations
Leading Social Ventures - Social Entrepreneurship in Action
Investigating Modes of Social Change
Social Entrepreneurship
Investing in Social Change
Senior Capstone: The capstone may take the form of an Honors Thesis, Independent Study, a Public Policy internship, research Assistantship, UTRA Assistantship, or designated Senior Seminar
Total Credits10


Candidates for honors should apply in the Spring term of their third year. Successful candidates will enroll in the Public Policy Colloquium and prepare a senior honors paper.