Public policy decisions touch nearly every aspect of daily life, although we often fail to recognize or understand their impact. Daily, we are exposed to the policy proposals and preferences of those in or seeking office and they are in turn influenced by the preferences of the public and the pressures of organized interest groups. Given the impact that policy choices can have on our lives, it is essential that we have an understanding of how policy choices are made and how we might evaluate those choices. Why do we need this knowledge? Policymakers are more responsive to the demands and interests of an active and informed public.
The purpose of the public policy major is to equip students with sufficient competence in analytical skills supported by social science theory to prepare them for graduate or professional study. Majors should be sufficiently prepared to seek positions in organizations which deal with public policy issues: business firms, trade associations, lobbying organizations, and government agencies. The major provides students with the factual, analytical, practical, and theoretical skills necessary for contemporary policy design, implementation, and evaluation.
Public policy is interdisciplinary in nature; it is affected by social and economic conditions; political as well as cultural values; and the structure of government. The study of public policy requires the integration of knowledge from multiple disciplines to understand and critically assess public problems and potential solutions. The public policy major draws upon the knowledge and experience usually available through separate majors such as anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science. Only through a coordinated exposure to these fields can a student understand how they interact in the world of public policy. The interdisciplinary nature of the major makes it a good choice for students considering a double major in related disciplines such as political science or economics.
Public policy students may choose from two disciplinary tracks within the public policy major – American public policy or International public policy. A student who chooses to major in public policy should select an adviser from the political science or public policy faculty, and in conjunction with the adviser, plan a program that is appropriate to the needs and objectives of the students.
Students who have questions about the public policy major should consult Todd Eberly, coordinator of public policy studies.