Public Policy Studies

Undergraduate Program Director: Richard Taub, G-B 223, 702-7927,
Associate Director: James Leitzel, G-B 225, 702-8555
Administrative Assistant: Lee Price, G-B 218B, 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 29600 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 22100. Politics and Policy

Public Policy 22200. Public Policy Analysis

Public Policy 22300. Problems of Policy Implementation

Students are also required to take Economics 20000 (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 20100, 20200, 27000, and 27100.

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 22000, especially if they anticipate taking several economics courses or the more analytical political science courses. Statistics 20000 is an acceptable substitute for Statistics 22000. 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 26200-26300). 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. Students wishing to graduate with honors should seek two faculty advisers for the project in the spring quarter of the third year or early in the fourth year. The instructor of Public Policy 29800 serves as adviser for all other B.A. papers.

Further assistance is available in a seminar course (Public Policy 29800) 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 29900 (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 21700/31700, 21800/31800, 25800/45800, 26600/36600, 26700/36700, 30800, 39100

History 17700, 18600, 19600, 24900/34900, 28000/38000, 28700/38700

Political Science 20500, 21600, 22000, 22200, 22300, 24100, 24400, 24700, 25900/35600, 27000, 27400, 27800, 28100, 28800, 29100, 29400, 29500, 29600, 33900, 34000, 34100

Sociology 20300/30400, 20900/33100, 21300/32000, 21400, 21800, 22500, 22700/36100, 23000/33800, 23500/33500, 23800, 24000, 24100, 24300, 24400, 25900, 26400, 26500, 26700/36700, 26900, 27100/37100, 27300, 27500/33700, 28800

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

Summary of Requirements

General MATH 13100-13200 or equivalent†


Concentration 1 MATH 13300 or equivalent†

3 PBPL 22100-22200-22300

1 ECON 20000

1 (or more) courses in statistics

3 courses in an area of specialization

2 PBPL 26200-26300

(research practicum)

1 PBPL 29800 (Senior Seminar)

B.A. paper


Credit may be granted by examination.

It is recommended that students take an additional course in economics (Economics 20100 or 20200).

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 3.25 or above. Students wishing to graduate with 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


For a description of the numbering guidelines for the following courses, consult the section on reading the catalog on page 15.

21800. Economics and Environmental Policy (=ENST 21800, PBPL 21800). PQ: ECON 19800 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.

22100. Politics and Policy (=PBPL 22100, PLSC 28200). PQ: PBPL 22100-22200-22300 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.

22200. Public Policy Analysis (=ECON 27800, PBPL 22200). PQ: ECON 20000. PBPL 22100-22200-22300 may be taken in sequence or individually. This course reviews and augments the basic tools of microeconomics developed in ECON 20000, 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.

22300. Problems of Public Policy Implementation (=PBPL 22300, PLSC 24900, SOCI 34000). PQ: PBPL 22100-22200-22300 may be taken in sequence or individually. Once a governmental policy or program is established, there is the challenge of getting it carried out in ways intended by the policy makers. Obstacles emerge because of problems of hierarchy, competing goals, and cultures of different groups, as well as because of difficulties in achieving complex new patterns of change. We explore how these obstacles emerge and may be overcome particularly between groups; and between creators and those responsible for implementing programs. We also look at varying responses of target populations. R. Taub. Spring.

22500. Environmental Policy (=ENST 24700, LLSO 28900, PBPL 22500). This course considers alternative approaches to the quantitative, market-based analysis of environmental policy. The course focuses on two policy settings in particular: the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the protection of biodiversity under the Endangered Species Act. L. Raymond. Winter.

22600. The Environment in U.S. Politics (=ENST 24100, NCDV 24100, PBPL 22600, PLSC 20300). Environmental policy has frequently been forged amidst major public controversy. This course considers the role played by environmental issues and ideas in U.S. 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.

23000. Organizational Analysis (=PBPL 23000, SOCI 20900/33100). 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.

23100. Environmental Law (=ENST 23100, LLSO 23100, PBPL 23100). 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 environmental challenges. H. L. Henderson. Autumn.

23200. The Economics of Crime (=ECON 28700, PBPL 23200). PQ: ECON 19900 or 20100 required. STAT 22000 or ECON 21000 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.

23600. Political Sociology (=PBPL 23600, SOCI 23500/33500). PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in social sciences. 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.

24300. Global Environmental Politics (=ENST 24900, NCDV 21100, PBPL 24300, PLSC 21100). 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.

24400. Is Development Sustainable? (=BPRO 23400, ENST 24400, HIPS 23400, NCDV 27300, PBPL 24400, PLSC 21200). PQ: Open to fourth-year students with no prior Environmental Studies course. This is a discussion course intended for senior students without an environmental background. Its aim is to develop skills in analyzing "big problems" that surpass the scope of traditional disciplines and single paradigms. These include human population growth, the unintended consequences of technology, the conflict between economic development and the preservation of our habitat, and choices regarding the allocation of resources to present versus future needs. T. Steck, Staff. Spring.

24500. Economics of Urban Policies (=ECON 26600/36500, GEOG 26600/36600, PBPL 24500). PQ: ECON 20100. 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; and congestion and transportation pricing and policy, urban growth, urban environmental externalities, and Third World cities. G. Tolley. Winter.

24600. Economic Development in the Inner City (=PBPL 24600, SOCI 24100/35300). 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.

24800. Urban Policy Analysis (=PBPL 24800, SOCI 25600). 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.

25300. Social Welfare in the United States (=PBPL 25300, SOSC 25300). 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. Spring.

25800. Public Choice (=ECON 26900, PBPL 25800, PLSC 23500). PQ: Knowledge of microeconomics. This course is an introduction to major ideas in 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.

25900. Social and Cultural Dimensions of U.S. Education Policy. PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. This conceptually oriented course starts from the premise that policies are the product of social and cultural processes. The course uses ethnographic and historical readings as a focus for examining the taken-for-granted meanings and social processes that structure the creation and implementation of specific education policies in the United States. Challenging the common-sense view that education policy is the result of rational judgements and technical expertise, the course considers how policy processes are also connected to cherished values, cultural understandings, and social processes of conflict and competition. L. Rosen. Spring.

26200-26300. Field Research Project in Public Policy I, II (=PBPL 26200-26300, PLSC 28600-28700). 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.

26700. Metropolitan Development and Planning (=GEOG 26700/36700, PBPL 26700, SOCI 24700). 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 urban planning institutions are also explored. Selected policies for economic development, poverty, housing, education and transportation, land use management, and the environment are analyzed. D. Holleb. Spring.

26800. The New Genetics and Women: Ethical and Social Issues (=BIOS 26700, GNDR 28500, PBPL 26800, SSAD 34700). 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.

27000. Introduction to International Economics (=ECON 27000, PBPL 27000). PQ: ECON 20100 and 20200, 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.

27100. Economies in Transition: China, Russia, and Beyond (=ECON 27900, PBPL 27100). PQ: ECON 20000 or consent of instructor. The ongoing postsocialist transitions are examined (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.

27200. Policy Reform. PQ: ECON 20100 or PBPL 22200. 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 engender reform? J. Leitzel. Spring.

27300. Regulation of Vice (=ECON 27300, PBPL 27300). PQ: ECON 20000. 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.

27900. Global-Local Politics (=PBPL 27900, SOCI 27900/37900). 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: what is the role of education, income, mass communication, travel, migration, economic exchange, and other forces, and how they are being reshaped by local, national, and global dynamics. T. Clark. Winter.

28300. Health Economics and Public Policy (=ECON 27700, GSBC 85700, PBPL 28300, PPHA 38300, SSAD 47700). PQ: ECON 20300 and 21000 with grades of B 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. D. Meltzer. Spring.

28600. Problems of Economic Policy in Developing Countries (=ECON 25600, PBPL 28600, PPHA 37500). PQ: ECON 20100 and 20200, 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, fiscal deficits, the choice of an exchange rate regime, and the international debt problem. L. Sjaastad. Spring.

29500. Ethical Issues in Biology and Medicine (=BIOS 29600, PBPL 29500). This course examines principle-based and case-based approaches to ethical questions in biology and medicine, and key concepts such as health, disease, person, life, death, and rights. We apply these methodological and conceptual considerations to topics such as research with human subjects, research with nonhuman animals, cloning and stem cell research, genetics, abortion, reproduction, refusal of treatment, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. M. Mahowald. Autumn.

29600. 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.

29700. 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.

29800. Senior Seminar. PQ: Open only to fourth-year public policy studies concentrators. Must be taken for a letter grade. Staff. Autumn.

29900. 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.

39700. The Institution of Education (=PPHA 39700, SOCI 27500/33700). 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. Spring.