Public Policy Studies

Undergraduate Program Director: Richard Taub, G-B 223, 702-7927,
Senior Lecturer: James Leitzel, G-B 225, 702-8555
Administrative Assistant: Lee Price, G-B 218-B, 702-7134,
World Wide Web:

Program of Study

Public policy studies offers College students an opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary study of domestic and international policy issues. The primary disciplines among the teaching faculty are economics, political science, and sociology. Course work emphasizes the application of these disciplines to real-world policy issues.

The program of study for the Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy studies is designed to introduce students to policy analysis and implementation, equip them to use quantitative and economic techniques and methods, train them in policy research, and give them a command of at least one particular policy area.

Students may focus their interests on domestic policy concerns or on international or foreign matters. Those interested in domestic issues can assemble an outstanding selection of courses from offerings in political science, economics, and sociology. For example, students can specialize in urban problems, the influence of the labor market, the family, and social attitudes on the status of various income and racial groups. As a further example, students can specialize in policy implementation, taking courses in the economics of public management, organizational decision making, and complex organizations, among others.

The program also encourages students to have an internship experience either during the academic year or during the summer. Public Policy 296 offers academic course credit for students completing an approved, policy-oriented internship. Students may inquire about internship opportunities and requirements through the program's administrative assistant.

Program Requirements

First Year. During the first or second year, all students must take one full year of calculus.

Second Year. The following three-quarter sequence, which is usually taken in the second year, is required of all students in the program.

Public Policy 221. Politics and Policy
Public Policy 222. Public Policy Analysis
Public Policy 223. Problems of Policy Implementation

Students are also required to take Economics 200 (The Elements of Economic Analysis I) no later than the autumn quarter of their second year. Students are encouraged to also take at least one additional economics course; appropriate courses include Economics 201, 202, 270, and 271.

Third Year. In the third year, students may complete the following courses:

1. At least one course in statistics. Students are strongly encouraged to take Statistics 220, especially if they anticipate taking several economics courses or the more analytical political science courses. Statistics 200 is an acceptable substitute for Statistics 220. A second statistics course is recommended. Students should consult with the undergraduate program director for help in selecting appropriate courses from the many statistics courses offered by the University.

2. Courses in an area of specialization. Students are required to complete three substantive policy courses that make up a specialization in a public policy field. Students may meet the specialization requirement in one of two ways: (1) by taking three courses that logically connect (for example, courses in urban politics, urban economics, and urban society would count as an urban specialization; or courses in international relations, international finance, and history of the common market might be an international specialty); or (2) by taking three courses beyond the introductory course in one discipline other than public policy. (Common choices here are economics, political science, sociology, and statistics. Two of these courses should be taken in the third year.)

3. Research practicum. Students must participate in a two-quarter practicum (Field Research Project, Public Policy 262-263). This is a group project that exposes students to real-world policy-making questions. Students are given responsibility for particular aspects of the research project, and the final report integrates the findings. In previous years, practicums have dealt with the employment and housing conditions facing Latinos in metropolitan Chicago, juvenile recidivism, and patterns of racial integration and segregation in the suburbs of Chicago.

Fourth Year. Students must write a B.A. paper in the fourth year. Ordinarily, the B.A. paper should not be an expansion of the third-year research study. In the spring quarter of the third year or early in the fourth year, students who plan to write a B.A. paper should seek a faculty adviser for the project.

Further assistance is available in a seminar course (Public Policy 298) offered in the autumn quarter and required of all concentrators. The seminar informs students about sources and methods of research. During the second half of the course, students offer preliminary statements about the mode of inquiry, sources, and treatment of evidence for their B.A. papers. Students may take as many as two quarters of Public Policy 299 (B.A. Preparation: Public Policy) for elective credit.

Courses. Many policy-related courses in political science, economics, sociology, education, and history count towards the concentration requirements when used as "specialization" courses. Examples of courses frequently offered are:

All economics courses

Education 217/317, 218/318, 258/458, 266/366, 267/367, 308, 391

History 177, 186, 196, 249/349, 280/380, 287/387

Political Science 205, 216, 220, 222, 223, 241, 244, 247, 259/356, 270, 274, 278, 281, 288, 291, 294, 295, 296, 339, 340, 341

Sociology 203/304, 209/331, 213/320, 214, 218, 225, 227/361, 230/338, 235/335, 238, 240, 241, 243, 244, 259, 264, 265, 267/367, 269, 271/371, 273, 275/337, 288

If you are in doubt about other courses, please consult the undergraduate program director or administrative assistant.

Summary of Requirements

  Math 131-132 or equivalent†
Concentration 1 Math 133 or equivalent†
  3 PubPol 221-222-223
  1 Econ 200
  1 (or more) courses in statistics
  3 courses in an area of specialization
  2 PubPol 262-263 (research practicum)
  1 PubPol 298 (Senior Seminar)
  - B.A. paper


Credit may be granted by examination.

It is recommended that students take an additional course in economics (Economics 201 or 202).

Grading. All courses counting toward the public policy concentration must be taken for letter grades unless students have prior approval for P/F grading from the undergraduate program director.

Honors. All seniors are candidates for honors. Students are recommended for honors if their B.A. papers are of substantial quality and their grade point average in the concentration is 3.0 or above. Students wishing to graduate with special honors must submit the final drafts of their B.A. papers to two faculty readers by the beginning of the sixth week of the quarter in which they wish to graduate.


Charles E. Bidwell, William Claude Reavis Professor, Departments of Education and Sociology, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, and the College; Director, Ogburn/Stouffer Center for the Study
of Population and Social Organization at the National Opinion Research Center
Don Coursey, Professor, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and the College
Doris B. Holleb, Professorial Lecturer, Social Sciences Collegiate Division and the Committee on Geographical Studies
D. Gale Johnson, Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics and the College; Chairman, Economics Program in the College
Edward O. Laumann, George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Sociology and the College; Chairman, Department of Sociology
JAMES LEITZEL, Senior Lecturer in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division
Howard Margolis, Professor, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and the College
John Padgett, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and the College
Harold A. Richman, Hermon Dunlap Smith Professor, School of Social Service Administration and the College; Director, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the National Opinion Research Center
Lloyd I. Rudolph, Professor, Department of Political Science and the College
Duncan Snidal, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, and the College; Director, Program on International Politics, Economics, & Security;
Chairman, Committee on International Relations
Richard P. Taub, Paul Klapper Professor of Social Sciences in the College; Professor, Departments of Sociology and Human Development; Chairman, Public Policy Studies in the College; Research Associate, Ogburn/Stouffer Center for the Study of Population and Social Organization at the National Opinion Research Center
George S. Tolley, Professor, Department of Economics
Robert Townsend, Charles E. Merriam Professor, Department of Economics and the College
KENNETH WONG, Associate Professor, the Department of Education and the College


218. Economics and Environmental Policy (=EnvStd 218, PubPol 218). PQ: Econ 198 or higher. This course combines basic microeconomic theory and tools with contemporary environmental and resources issues and controversies to examine and analyze public policy decisions and the decision-making process. It develops both positive and normative frameworks to evaluate environmental regulations and to understand political economy responses. Theoretical points include externalities, public goods, common-property resources, valuing resources, and benefit (cost analysis and risk assessment). Environmental topics include pollution, global climate changes, energy use and conservation, recycling and waste management, endangered species, nonrenewable resources, congestion, economic growth and the environment, and equity impacts of public policies. A. Sanderson. Spring.

221. Politics and Policy (=PolSci 282, PubPol 221). PubPol 221-222-223 may be taken in sequence or individually. Public policy choices interact with politics in obvious ways (e.g., elections) but also in subtler ways, turning especially on how organizations work and what governs persuasion and belief. This course surveys some key aspects of these interactions. H. Margolis. Autumn.

222. Public Policy Analysis (=Econ 278, PubPol 222). Econ 200. PubPol 221-222-223 may be taken in sequence or individually. This course reviews and augments the basic tools of microeconomics developed in Econ 200, and applies these tools to policy problems. We examine situations in which private markets are likely to produce unsatisfactory results, suggesting a potential rationale for government intervention. The goal is to allow students to comprehend, develop, and respond to economics arguments (both their strengths and their weaknesses) when formulating or evaluating public policy. J. Leitzel. Winter.

223. Problems of Public Policy Implementation (=PolSci 249, PubPol 223, Sociol 340). PQ: PubPol 221-222-223 may be taken in sequence or individually. This course is a systematic examination of the interplay among the executive, the administrator, the legislator, and the public as these relationships affect policy and its undertaking. The emphasis is on the politics of administration, as well as those political forces that organize around the implementer of public policies. R. Taub. Spring.

225. Environmental Policy (=EnvStd 247, LL/Soc 289, PubPol 225). This course examines social, economic, and political forces that shape our nation's efforts to protect the natural environment. Focusing on policy responses to issues such as wilderness protection, industrial pollution, and land use, the course is intended to lead to a critical appraisal of the ways in which our society relates to the natural world. L. Raymond. Winter.

226. The Environment in U.S. Politics (=EnvStd 241, NCD 241, PolSci 203, PubPol 226). Environmental policy has frequently been forged amidst major public controversy. This course will consider the role played by environmental issues and ideas in United States politics from the late eighteenth century to the present. These issues are analyzed in the context of changing social values and political priorities regarding the relationship between humans and the natural world. L. Raymond. Autumn.

230. Organizational Analysis (=PubPol 230, Sociol 209/331). This course is a systematic introduction to theoretical and empirical work on organizations, broadly conceived, such as public and private economic organizations, governmental organizations, prisons, health-care organizations, and professional and voluntary associations. Topics include intraorganizational questions about organizational goals and effectiveness, communication, authority, and decision making. Using recent developments in market, political economy, and neoinstitutional theories, we explore organizational change and interorganizational relationships for their implications in understanding social change in modern societies. E. Laumann. Autumn.

231. Environmental Law (=EnvStd 231, LL/Soc 231, PubPol 231). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing, or consent of instructor. This lecture/discussion course examines the development of laws and legal institutions that address environmental problems and advance environmental policies. Topics include the common law background to traditional environmental regulation; the explosive growth and impact of federal environmental laws in the second half of the twentieth century; regulations and the urban environment; and the evolution of local and national legal structures in response to global environmental change. H. L. Henderson. Autumn.

232. The Economics of Crime (=Econ 287, PubPol 232). PQ: Econ 199 or 201 required. Stat 220 or Econ 210 strongly recommended. This course uses theoretical and empirical economic tools to analyze a wide range of issues related to criminal behavior. Among the topics examined are police, prisons, gang behavior, guns, drugs, capital punishment, labor markets and the macroeconomy, and income inequality. Special emphasis is devoted to analyzing the optimal role for public policy. S. Levitt. Spring.

236/336. Political Sociology (=PolSci 232, PubPol 236/336, Sociol 235/335). PQ: Prior general social sciences course. This course provides analytical perspectives on citizen-preference theory, public choice, group theory, bureaucrats and state-centered theory, coalition theory, elite theories, and political culture. These competing analytical perspectives are assessed in considering middle-range theories and empirical studies on central themes of political sociology. Local, national, and cross-national analyses are explored. T. Clark. Spring.

241. Public Policy and the Arts. This course examines art in its social context from the perspectives of artists, patrons, experts, art institutions, the art market, and audiences. We address how public policy has shaped the arts in the United States in different eras, with a focus on the nature and significance of contemporary art controversies. B. Farrell. Spring.

242. Global Environmental Politics (=EnvStd 249, NCD 211, PolSci 211, PubPol 242). This course offers an introduction to global environmental politics. Explorations in selected environmental issue areas are used to identify the roles, interests, and behavior of main actors such as states, international organizations, NGOs, and the business community. Major contemporary debates are introduced that relate environmental issues to trade liberalization, security, global justice, and human rights. These analyses provide students with analytical tools to further explore environmental issues. H. P. Schmitz. Spring.

244. Is Development Sustainable? (=BigPro 234, EnvStd 244, HiPSS 234, NCD 273, PolSci 212, PubPol 244). PQ: Open to students with no prior Environmental Studies course. Fourth-year standing and consent of instructor required. This is a discussion course intended for senior students without an environmental background. Taught by an environmental attorney, a philosophical computer professional, and a biologist, its aim is to develop skills in analyzing "big problems" that surpass the scope of traditional disciplines and single paradigms. Big environmental problems include human population growth, the impact of technology, the conflict between economic development and the preservation of our habitat, and choices regarding allocation of resources to present versus future needs. G. Davis, T. Steck, W. Sterner. Spring.

245. Economics of Urban Policies (=Econ 266/365, Geog 266/366, PubPol 245). PQ: Econ 201. This course covers tools needed to analyze urban economics and address urban policy problems. Topics include: a basic model of residential location and rents; income, amenities, and neighborhoods; homelessness and urban poverty; decisions on housing purchase versus rental, housing taxation, housing finance, and landlord monitoring; models of commuting mode choice; congestion and transportation pricing and policy; and urban growth, urban environmental externalities, and Third World cities. G. Tolley. Winter.

246. Economic Development in the Inner City (=PubPol 246, Sociol 241/353). PQ: At least one prior course in economics, political science, public policy, or sociology. This course explores conceptually what the issues are around the economic position of cities in the late twentieth century, and how to think creatively about strategies to generate economic growth that would have positive consequences for low income residents. We consider Community Development Corporations, empowerment zones, housing projects, and business development plans through credit and technical assistance. R. Taub. Autumn.

247. Family and Policy. In this course we investigate changes in family life in the United States in historical and contemporary perspective, with an emphasis on the ways in which policy has been shaped by-and, in turn, affects-family norms and practices. Topics considered include gender roles, work patterns, and welfare policy; reproductive choices, parenting, and child care; and current family politics. B. Farrell. Autumn.

248/348. Urban Policy Analysis (=PolSci 256, PubPol 248/348, Sociol 256/329). This course addresses the explanations available for varying patterns of policies that cities provide in terms of expenditures and service delivery. Topics include theoretical approaches and policy options, migration as a policy option, group theory, citizen preference theory, incrementalism, economic base influences, and an integrated model. Also examined are the New York fiscal crisis and taxpayer revolts, measuring citizen preferences, service delivery, and productivity. T. Clark. Autumn.

253. Social Welfare in the United States (=PubPol 253, SocSci 253). This course examines the evolution of social welfare provisions in American society. Special emphasis is placed on who is helped and who is not, in what forms, under what auspices, and with what goals. The changing nature of helping is analyzed, with particular attention to the changing role of the state. We focus on the poor, children and families, and the mentally ill. Some comparisons are made with other industrialized countries. H. Richman. Not offered 2000-2001; will be offered 2001-2002.

258. Public Choice (=Econ 269, PolSci 235, PubPol 258). PQ: Knowledge of microeconomics. This course is an introduction to the literature that seeks to apply the economic notion of rational choice to the context of politics and social choice. Some of the authors covered are Samuelson, Arrow, Buchanan, Olson, and Downs. H. Margolis. Winter.

260/384. Policy Analysis in Education (=Educ 266/366, PolSci 230, PubPol 260/384). This course serves as the analytical foundation for students interested in education policy. It introduces analytical perspectives in the study of public policy, with particular emphasis on education. Among the approaches are institutional analysis, the bargaining model, the rational actor paradigm, the organizational-bureaucratic model, and the "policy typology" school. K. Wong. Autumn.

262-263/390-391. Field Research Project in Public Policy I, II (=PolSci 286-287, PubPol 262-263/390-391). PQ: Open to non-public policy studies concentrators with consent of instructor. Must be taken in sequence for two separate grades, one for each quarter. Students work on a research team to prepare a report on an important public policy problem for a governmental agency, large public-interest group, or community-based organization. This project includes development and implementation of a research strategy designed to answer the policy questions. The objective is preparation of a publishable report. Projects in recent years have focused on refugee resettlement, welfare reform, and community development on the South Side of Chicago. A. R. Datta. Winter, Spring.

266/367. Critical Issues in Education (=Educ 267/367, PubPol 266/367). This course focuses on contemporary issues in educational policy in the broader political and institutional context. Possible topics include federal policy development and implementation; reform at the state level (school finance, academic excellence, and teacher competency); racial equity and school desegregation (progress and prospects); public-private school differences and policy proposals; and big-city school politics (race, unions, and the economy). For each topic, two or three major works are selected for more in-depth examination. Scholarly research frames the discussion, along with an evaluation of contemporary policy recommendations from both governmental and nongovernmental sources. K. Wong. Spring.

267. Metropolitan Development and Planning (=Geog 267/367, PubPol 267, Sociol 247). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. This course focuses on metropolitan development patterns and the interplay of geopolitical, economic, and social changes in U.S. cities after 1950. Intergovernmental relations, and concepts and institutions of urban planning are also explored. Selected policies for economic development, land-use management, housing, education, transportation, energy, and the environment are analyzed by region. D. Holleb. Spring.

268. The New Genetics and Women: Ethical and Social Issues (=BioSci 267, GendSt 285, PubPol 268, SSA 347). This course identifies clinical, ethical, and social implications for women of advances in genetics. Topics include preimplantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal testing and interventions, sex selection, misattributed paternity, testing for complex and late onset disorders, gender differences in attitudes about genetic ties, gene therapy, behavioral genetics, access to genetic services, and human cloning. Illustrative cases are discussed, and policy recommendations regarding the various topics are reviewed and critiqued. M. Mahowald. Autumn.

270. Introduction to International Economics (=Econ 270, PubPol 270). PQ: Econ 201 and 202, or consent of instructor. This course deals with the pure theory of international trade: the real side of international economics. Topics include the basis for gains from trade; the theory of comparative advantage; effects of international trade on distribution of income, tariffs, and other barriers to trade; and the role of exchange rates. L. Sjaastad. Autumn.

271. Economies in Transition: China, Russia, and Beyond (=Econ 279, PubPol 271). PQ: Econ 200 or consent of instructor. The ongoing postsocialist transitions are discussed in this course, particularly those of Russia and China. The basic tool of analysis is the emerging "economics of transition." Various programs of macroeconomic stabilization, price liberalization, and privatization are analyzed, and their effects on inflation, unemployment, and living standards are assessed. We cover issues highlighted in the "post-Washington consensus" (e.g., corporate governance, competition policy, and the role of the state). J. Leitzel. Winter.

272. Policy Reform. PQ: Econ 201 or PubPol 222. Policy makers are rarely in a position to design policy on a tabula rasa; rather, there is a preexisting policy in place, and the job of policy makers is to consider amendments to this status quo. Policy reforms exhibit similarities, and these general features can be identified and analyzed. Questions addressed include: What policies are selected for reform? Why are necessary reforms often delayed? What is the basis for frequent claims about the futility of proposed policy reforms? What role does the evasion of existing policies have on policy reform? How and, in what manner, does crisis management engender reform? J. Leitzel. Spring.

273. Regulation of Vice (=Econ 273, PubPol 273). PQ: Econ 200. This course concerns government policy with respect to the traditional vices of drinking, smoking, gambling, illicit sex, and the recreational use of drugs. Among the policies considered are prohibition, taxation, treatment, decriminalization, and legalization. The intellectual framework employed to evaluate various policies is primarily economic, though other disciplines are also drawn upon. J. Leitzel. Spring.

279. Global-Local Politics (=PolSci 251, PubPol 279, Sociol 279/379). Globalizing and local forces are generating a new politics in the United States and around the world. This course explores this new politics by mapping its emerging elements: the rise of social issues, ethno-religious and regional attachments, environmentalism, gender and life-style identity issues, new social movements, transformed political parties and organized groups, and new efforts to mobilize individual citizens. We also analyze where and why such new patterns emerge. T. Clark. Winter.

283/383. Health Economics and Public Policy (=Bus 857, Econ 277, PubPol 283/383, SSA 477). PQ: Econ 201 or higher, and consent of instructor. This course analyzes the economics of health care in the United States with particular attention paid to the role of government. The first part of the course examines the demand for health care and the structure and consequences of public and private health insurance. The second part of the course examines the supply of health care, including professional training, licensure, specialization and compensation, hospital competition and finance, and the determinants and consequences of technical change in medicine. The course concludes with an examination of recent proposals and initiatives for health care reform. D. Meltzer. Spring.

286/375. Problems of Economic Policy in Developing Countries (=Econ 256, PubPol 286/375). PQ: Econ 201 and 202, or consent of instructor. This course focuses on the application of economic analysis to economic policy issues frequently encountered in developing countries. Topics include sources of economic growth, commercial policy, regional economic integration, inflation and stabilization, the problem of fiscal deficits, the choice of the exchange rate regime, and the international debt problem. L. Sjaastad. Winter.

296. Internship: Public Policy. PQ: Consent of program director. Open only to public policy studies concentrators. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Must be taken for a P/F grade. Students must make arrangements with the program director before beginning the internship. After working for a government agency or not-for-profit organization, students write a paper about the experience. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

297. Reading and Research: Public Policy. PQ: Open only to public policy studies concentrators. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

298. Senior Seminar. PQ: Open only to fourth-year public policy studies concentrators. Must be taken for a letter grade. Staff. Autumn.

299. B.A. Paper Preparation: Public Policy. PQ: Open only to fourth-year public policy studies concentrators. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

The following 300 level courses are also open to College students.

392. Social Policy in Europe, 1815 to the Present (=Educ 391, Hist 249/349, PubPol 392). This course examines the antecedents, evaluation, and alleged "crises" of the welfare state, with emphasis on policies concerning education, the family, the labor market, income distribution, health, and regional development. Themes include the social, intellectual, and political origins of social policies; the diffusion of various models of the welfare state; and the ways in which social policies have interacted with the opportunities and choices of individuals and private corporate actors. We consider efforts to develop a theory of the welfare state, including structural-functionalism, neo-Marxist political economy, historical sociology, the "new" institutional economics, and public choice theory. J. Craig. Winter.

393. Educational Organization and Social Inequality (=Educ 218/318, PubPol 393, Sociol 230/338). This course presents a review of formulations of education's place in the system of social stratification and focuses on the organization of school systems, schools, and classrooms. Attention is given to the ways conceptions of educational organization and of stratification can be related to each other. C. Bidwell. Spring.

397. The Institution of Education (=Educ 217/317, PubPol 397, Sociol 275/337). This course is a general survey of the properties of education considered as an institution of historical and contemporary societies. Particular attention is given to institutional formation and change in education and to education's role in processes of social control and social stratification. C. Bidwell. Winter.