Public policy minor: an interdisciplinary minor housed in the government department
Citizens interested in addressing societal problems and even experts with deep, technical knowledge of particular issues often find that politics and governance interfere with and complicate proposals for change. The process through which policy problems are defined, whether issues find a place on the political agenda, and the particular alternatives that gain prominence may owe less to their efforts and preferences than to political developments and the institutional context. Once policies are enacted, the political process starts anew as implementation unfolds. Policies may develop very differently “on the ground” than intended, as policy design and delivery can alter their meaning or actual outcomes and produce unintended consequences. Political factors also influence the sustainability of policies and how, once in place, they themselves influence the political process.
The public policy minor enables students to comprehend such paradoxes by developing their understanding of the political dimensions of public policy and how they shape its conception, formulation, implementation, chances of success, intended and unintended consequences, and evaluation. Students will have the opportunity to take courses that deal with public policy in the United States, Africa, China, Europe, India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, and with attention to domestic policy (including health, education, energy, criminal justice, natural resources, immigration, social welfare policy, and urban policy) and foreign policy (including foreign aid and national security). The minor is housed in the Government Department but policy courses offered by other departments, if their content pertains to the purposes of the minor, will also be approved for elective credit.