Contacts | Program of Study | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Grading | Honors | Courses

Department Website:

Program of Study

Public Policy Studies is a multidisciplinary major grounded in the social sciences, with substantial inputs from economics, sociology, political science, and law, among other disciplines. The major recognizes that public issues are not neatly contained within traditional disciplinary boundaries and that analysts possessing a broad range of social scientific understanding, quantitative expertise, and communication skills are well placed to contribute to improved public policies. Public Policy involves direct contact with policy problems, ensuring that academic speculations are well-informed and connected to real-world conditions.

The Public Policy Studies major strives to put analysis before advocacy, stressing that compelling policy analysis is a central component of effective advocacy. We aim to be open and helpful to students of all political persuasions and challenge students to rethink clichéd responses to policy problems. The program of study for the BA 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 thorough grounding in one or more specific policy areas.

The program also encourages students to undertake an internship experience either during the academic year or during the summer. PBPL 29600 Internship: Public Policy offers academic course credit for students completing an approved, policy-oriented internship.

Students should contact the program administrator with questions about meeting requirements for the Public Policy Studies degree.

Program Requirements

The suggested sequence described below is typical, but many other variations are possible. There is flexibility within the program regarding when required courses can be taken.

First and Second Years

During their first or second year, students should take two quarters of calculus plus STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications or STAT 23400 Statistical Models and Methods.

Many students take the following required three-quarter sequence in their second year, although sometimes students defer taking one or more of these courses until later. Taking the courses in the same year is not required and the courses may be taken in any order.

PBPL 22100Politics and Policy100
PBPL 22200Public Policy Analysis100
PBPL 22300Policy Implementation100

Students are required to take either PBPL 20000 Economics for Public Policy or ECON 20000 The Elements of Economic Analysis I; completion of one of these two courses is a prerequisite for the sequence course PBPL 22200 Public Policy Analysis. PBPL 20000 Economics for Public Policy assumes no prior economics training, whereas ECON 20000 The Elements of Economic Analysis I requires ECON 19800 Introduction to Microeconomics or other prior training in microeconomics.

Third Year

Students typically complete the courses that follow in their third year.

Quantitative Methods

Students are required to take PBPL 26400 Quantitative Methods in Public Policy.

Courses in an Area of Specialization

Students should identify their area of specialization and submit a proposal for their program of study to the program administrator by the end of Winter Quarter in their third year. 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 thematically connect (e.g., 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 European Union might be an international specialty); or (2) by taking three courses beyond the introductory course in one discipline other than public policy (e.g., economics, political science, sociology, statistics). Courses that satisfy the area of specialization requirement do not have to be listed or cross-listed as public policy courses; however, these courses should involve a substantial policy component. Please see the Public Policy Studies website for examples of some specialization courses:

Research Practicum

Students must fulfill a two-quarter research program. One of the quarters must be drawn from a “Methods” course, and the other quarter must be drawn from a “Windows” course. Most students will fulfill this requirement through the two-quarter “practicum” sequence PBPL 26200-26300 Field Research Project in Public Policy I-II. The traditional practicum is designed to teach research methods (e.g., focus groups, community surveys, GIS mapping) in a hands-on way and provide a "window" from the ivory tower into the "real world." Many of the practica in the past have involved collective work on a real-world policy problem with a community organization or government entity; see, for example, some final reports at

Alternatives to the traditional two-quarter practicum PBPL 26200-26300 Field Research Project in Public Policy I-II can be drawn from the Methods and Windows courses listed below. A common option is the one-quarter practicum PBPL 26301 Field Research Project in Public Policy, which can count for either a Methods or Windows course and is offered frequently. Students may petition the program director for permission to fulfill either their Methods or Windows requirement (or both) with courses that are not listed. 

The Methods courses include:

PBPL 26301 Field Research Project in Public Policy

PBPL 27040 Public Finance and Public Policy

ENST 26433 Practicum in Environmental Management

GEOG 28201 Intro to Geographic Information Systems

PLSC 22913 The Practice of Social Science Research

PPHA 34600 Program Evaluation

PPHA 34810 Mixed Methods Approaches to Policy Research

SOCI 20001 Sociological Methods

SOCI 20112 Applications of Hierarchical Linear Models

SOCI 20118 Survey Research Overview 

The Windows courses include:

PBPL 26301 Field Research Project in Public Policy

PBPL 24751 The Business of Non-Profits: The Evolving Social Sector

CHDV 20305 Inequality in Urban Spaces

ENST 26433 Practicum in Environmental Management

GEOG 26800 Geography Issues in Housing and Community Development

SOCI 20140 Qualitative Field Methods

The research practicum is generally taken by students in their third year. Students who plan to study abroad in Winter or Spring Quarter of their third year may opt to complete the research practicum in their second or fourth year. One of the goals of the practicum requirement is to prepare students to write excellent BA papers, so generally it is best if the practicum can be taken before the fourth year.

Fourth Year

Students must write a BA paper in their fourth year. The required seminar course, PBPL 29800 Senior Seminar, offered in the Autumn Quarter, is designed to assist students in developing and writing their BA papers. The instructor of PBPL 29800 Senior Seminar, the public policy preceptor, serves as a reader for the BA papers. Students are encouraged to choose a faculty adviser as a second reader for the project. Outstanding BA papers can earn an honors designation. In early April, fourth-year students present their BA papers at a Public Policy undergraduate research symposium.

The PBPL 29800 Senior Seminar informs students about sources, methods of research, and treatment of evidence. Students work throughout Winter and Spring Quarters with the preceptors (and possibly faculty advisers) in revising their BA papers. In addition to the PBPL 29800 Senior Seminar requirement, students may take one or two quarters of PBPL 29900 BA Paper Preparation: Public Policy for general elective credit. PBPL 29900 BA Paper Preparation: Public Policy, typically coordinated by a preceptor or faculty adviser, is designed to ensure that students will have sufficient time to write a quality BA paper.

Public Policy Studies may accept a BA paper that also is being used to satisfy the requirements of a second major. Approval from both program chairs is required to submit one BA paper to two majors. A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College advising office. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student’s year of graduation.


Many courses in related disciplines (e.g., Anthropology; Economics; History; Law, Letters, and Society; Political Science; Sociology; Biological Sciences) count toward the major when used as “specialization” courses.

Summary of Requirements

MATH 13100-13200Elementary Functions and Calculus I-II (or higher) *200
Total Units200
PBPL 26400Quantitative Methods in Public Policy100
PBPL 22100
  &  22200
  &  22300
Politics and Policy
   and Public Policy Analysis
   and Policy Implementation
ECON 20000The Elements of Economic Analysis I100
or PBPL 20000 Economics for Public Policy
STAT 22000Statistical Methods and Applications *100
or STAT 23400 Statistical Models and Methods
Three courses in an area of specialization300
PBPL 26200-26300Field Research Project in Public Policy I-II (or equivalent)200
PBPL 29800Senior Seminar100
BA paper
Total Units1200

Credit may be granted by examination. 

It is recommended that students take an additional course in statistics.


All courses counting toward the public policy major must be taken for quality grades unless students have prior approval for P/F grading from the undergraduate program chair.


Fourth-year students are eligible for honors if their overall GPA is 3.4 or higher. Those students are recommended for honors if their BA papers are judged to be of superior quality. For additional information about qualifying for honors, visit the Public Policy Studies website (

Public Policy Studies - College Courses

PBPL 20000. Economics for Public Policy. 100 Units.

This course develops the microeconomic theories of consumer and producer choices, as well as demonstrates the application of these theoretical tools to policy problems. Supply, demand, and competitive markets are examined, along with the conditions under which government policy can increase efficiency.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh, Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring
Prerequisite(s): Completion of two quarters of calculus required; prior knowledge of economics not required. For ECON majors and students who have taken ECON 20000: consent of instructor required.
Note(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000 is required of all students who are majoring in public policy. PBPL 20000 satisfies the ECON 20000 prerequisite for PBPL 22200. Students who have taken ECON 20000 require the instructor's consent to enroll in PBPL 20000.

PBPL 20305. Inequality in Urban Spaces. 100 Units.

The problems confronting urban schools are bound to the social, economic, and political conditions of the urban environments in which schools reside. Thus, this course will explore social, economic, and political issues, with an emphasis on issues of race and class as they have affected the distribution of equal educational opportunities in urban schools. We will focus on the ways in which family, school, and neighborhood characteristics intersect to shape the divergent outcomes of low- and middle-income children residing with any given neighborhood. Students will tackle an important issue affecting the residents and schools in one Chicago neighborhood. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Keels     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): CHDV Distribution: B; 2*
Equivalent Course(s): CHDV 40315,CRES 20305,CHDV 20305

PBPL 21425. Health in a Changing America: Social Context and Human Rights. 100 Units.

In this interdisciplinary course, students will consider the social context of health and the
,social and political commitments necessary to protect health as a human right. We will
,analyze recent trends in population health, such as the obesity epidemic, the opioid crisis,
,and the large gaps in life expectancy between neighborhoods in urban centers. Using case
,studies, students will envision a human rights-based response to these and other health
,challenges. We will examine the ways that framing health as personal versus public
,responsibility is consequential for social policy.

Instructor(s): Alicia Riley, Graduate Lecturer in Human Rights     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 21403

PBPL 21800. Economics and Environmental Policy. 100 Units.

This course combines basic microeconomic theory and tools with contemporary environmental and resources issues and controversies to examine and analyze public policy decisions. Theoretical points include externalities, public goods, common-property resources, valuing resources, benefit/cost analysis, and risk assessment. Topics include pollution, global climate change, energy use and conservation, recycling and waste management, endangered species and biodiversity, nonrenewable resources, congestion, economic growth and the environment, and equity impacts of public policies.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): ECON 19800 or higher, or PBPL 20000
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 26201,ENST 21800

PBPL 22100. Politics and Policy. 100 Units.

This course has two fundamental aims. The first is to introduce students to a set of analytical tools and concepts for understanding how political institutions generate public policy. The second is to apply these tools in examining the major institutions of democracy in the United States.

Instructor(s): C. Berry     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Public Policy 22100-22200-22300 may be taken in any order.

PBPL 22200. Public Policy Analysis. 100 Units.

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. Our goal is to allow students to comprehend, develop, and respond to economics arguments when formulating or evaluating public policy.

Instructor(s): J. Leitzel     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000
Note(s): PBPL 22100-22200-22300 may be taken in any order. PBPL 22200 is not intended for students majoring in public policy who are planning to specialize in economics or to take advanced economics courses; those students should meet with the program director or administrator to arrange an alternative.

PBPL 22300. Policy Implementation. 100 Units.

Once a policy or program is established, there is the challenge of getting it carried out in ways intended by the policy makers or program designers. This course explores some of the common obstacles, dilemmas, and opportunities that emerge when government (and, in some cases, non-governmental actors) attempts to put a policy into effect. Focused on the United States, and drawing on case studies from poverty, crime, and education, we grapple with prevailing understandings of the implementation process, as well as the functions of bureaucracy, program evaluation, and social movements.

Instructor(s): S. Brophy     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Second-year standing is recommended; attendance on the first day of class is required or registration is dropped.
Note(s): PBPL 22100-22200-22300 may be taken in any order.

PBPL 23000. Organizational Analysis. 100 Units.

This course is a systematic introduction to theoretical and empirical work on organizations broadly conceived (e.g., public and private economic organizations, governmental organizations, prisons, professional and voluntary associations, health-care organizations). 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.

Instructor(s): E. Laumann     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 30101,SOCI 20101

PBPL 23100. Environmental Law. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): R. Lodato     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing, or consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 23100,LLSO 23100

PBPL 23200. The Economics of Crime. 100 Units.

This course uses theoretical and empirical economic tools to analyze a wide range of issues related to criminal behavior. Topics include the police, prisons, gang behavior, guns, drugs, capital punishment, labor markets and the macroeconomy, and income inequality. We emphasize the analysis of the optimal role for public policy.

Instructor(s): S. Levitt     Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20100 required; ECON 21020, STAT 23400 or ECON 21010 strongly recommended
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 28700

PBPL 23600. Political Sociology. 100 Units.

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.  Theses 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.  The course covers readings for the Sociology PhD. Prelim exam in political sociology.

Instructor(s): T. Clark     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in social sciences
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 23500,SOCI 30106,SOCI 20106

PBPL 24000. Chicago Neighborhoods. 100 Units.

This course is an applied learning experience in which students explore the many dimensions of Chicago neighborhoods, with a particular focus on the built environment and how it impacts—and is impacted by—the social and economic life of the city. Students will observe, interpret, and represent neighborhoods through a series of exercises designed to deepen knowledge about the significance and meaning of neighborhood form. Readings and fieldwork will engage students in neighborhood analysis and observation techniques that explore contemporary issues about public life, diversity, and social equity.

Instructor(s): E. Talen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 24000,GEOG 34000,SOSC 36000,SOSC 26000

PBPL 24102. Environmental Politics. 100 Units.

This course examines the different theoretical underpinnings of environmental activism and elucidates the manner in which they lead to different ends. We explore several contrasting views of environmentalism, including the land ethic, social ecology, and deep ecology. Discussions are based on questions posed about the readings and the implications they suggest. Class participation is required.

Instructor(s): R. Lodato     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 24102,ENST 24102

PBPL 24308. Reproductive Worlds. 100 Units.

This course explores how human reproduction and the reproductive body is compelled, constrained, enabled, and narrated across the globe. The “natural” aspects of reproduction intersect in increasingly fraught and often surprising ways with its technological/ scientific, institutional/professional, religious/spiritual, and political/ideological aspects. The starting point for the course is that the reproduction of bodies is differently understood and politically contested among and for various groups of people. We will pay particular attention to the ways bodies, ideas, and technologies flow throughout global contexts, while exploring how inequalities at various levels (race, class, geographic region, nationality, gender, sexuality, practices of family making) impact the “nature” of the reproductive body, and how reproductive practices “reproduce” such inequalities. We will also explore how knowledge of the reproductive body is contested through biomedicine, law, and media, with particular attention to naturalizing discourse about gender and intuition. Finally, we will look at how ecology and reproduction are intertwined via concern about environmental toxicities and the impact of non-human actors.

Instructor(s): A. Ford     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 24308,ANTH 24309

PBPL 24701. U.S. Environmental Policy. 100 Units.

Environmental policy is the product of political, historical, economic, and cultural factors that lead to certain outcomes (and not others). This course will examine each of these factors and their importance in shaping the environmental policies that exist in the United States, with consideration of both public lands and pollution control policies, as well as the theoretical underpinnings of environmental activism and policymaking.

Instructor(s): R. Lodato     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 24701,LLSO 24901

PBPL 24751. The Business of Non-Profits: The Evolving Social Sector. 100 Units.

Led by an experienced practitioner, this course aims to provide both an intellectual and experiential understanding of the contemporary nonprofit sector. In addition to a seminar component examining the rapidly evolving social sector, students engage in a hands-on consulting project for an area nonprofit involving analysis, reporting, and presentation.

Instructor(s): C. Velasquez     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. During 6th and 7th week, students must submit an application to CampusCATALYST, a nonprofit that assists in the coordination of consulting projects. Please see the quarterly time schedules for the CampusCATALYST application link.

PBPL 24756. Exploring the Resilient City. 100 Units.

In recent years, sub-national units of government have enacted meaningful policy plans in the wake of the ongoing failure of the international community to address global climate change. Cities in particular have shaped their plans to address the now-inevitable effects of climate change by adopting policies that emphasize resilience and environmental protection, without sacrificing economic growth, and with attention to the ongoing challenges of poverty and inequality.  This course will take a comparative look at the policies adopted by cities on an international basis, while defining what it means to be a resilient city and how much the built environment can be adjusted to limit the environmental impact of densely populated metropolises. It will also consider what impact citizen activism and input had upon the shape of each plan and the direction that its policies took. Students will also be asked to consider what might be missing from each plan and how each plan could be improved to foster greater resiliency.

Instructor(s): R. Lodato     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 24756

PBPL 24800. Urban Policy Analysis. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): T. Clark     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 30120,SOCI 20120

PBPL 24901. Trade, Development, and Poverty in Mexico. 100 Units.

With a focus on the past two decades, this interdisciplinary course explores the impact of economic integration, urbanization, and migration on Mexico and, to a lesser extent, on the United States—in particular, working class communities of the Midwestern Rust Belt. The course will examine work and life in the borderland production centers; agriculture, poverty, and indigenous populations in rural Mexico; evolving trade and transnational ties (especially in people, food products and labor, and drugs) between the U.S. and Mexico; and trade, trade adjustment, and immigration policy.

Instructor(s): C. Broughton     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): 2nd year standing required; attendance on the first day of class is required or registration will be dropped.
Equivalent Course(s): LACS 24901,SOCI 20251

PBPL 25002. Social Welfare Policy and Services. 100 Units.

This course introduces students to the issues and problems associated with social welfare interventions at the policy level, including an overview of its history in the US. Students are expected to learn and develop competencies in analyzing the components of current social welfare policies; designing programmatic alternatives; anticipating substantive, operational, and political advantages and disadvantages; and weighing trade-offs of policy choices. Policy domains to be considered include education, health, employment, safety net programs, and housing. While focusing on public policies, the course will include consideration of the impact of policies and programs on individuals and families. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Inequality.

Instructor(s): Marci Ybarra     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 25002,SOSC 25002

PBPL 25005. Inequality at Work. 100 Units.

This course will consider sources of inequality in the labor market and in workplaces. Empirical evidence and theory on labor markets and job conditions will be reviewed to provide insights into changing opportunity structures for lower-skilled workers. The goal will be to identify ways not only to ready workers for jobs in today's economy, but also to improve the quality of lower-level jobs themselves. Many social service agencies today incorporate some type of job training or workforce development program. The course will help inform practice and program development in these areas. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Inequality.

Instructor(s): Susan Lambert     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 25005,SOSC 25005

PBPL 25630. Poverty, Work, and Family Policy. 100 Units.

This course examines contemporary policy questions of concern to families, especially low-income working families. The course will consider demographic, labor market, and policy trends affecting family economic well-being and child outcomes; conceptual frameworks and policy debates concerning the responsibility of government, corporate, and informal sectors to address family needs; and specific policy and program responses directed at (1) improving employment and economic outcomes and (2) reconciling the competing demands of employment and parenting. Throughout the course, we will consider the ideological, conceptual, and empirical bases for the issues we study. Although our primary focus will be on issues affecting low-income families in the United States, relevant comparisons will be made throughout the course—cross-nationally, across race/ethnicity, and across income.

Instructor(s): J. Henly     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing; second-year students require instructor consent.
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 25630

PBPL 25730. Social Justice and Social Policy. 100 Units.

What is a fair policy? Policy makers often appeal to justice, fairness, or rights to justify policy. Yet it is often unclear what exactly these concepts mean. This course will examine contemporary theories of justice and teach students how these theories can be applied to public policy issues. We will start with three general theories of justice: utilitarianism, liberal equality, and libertarianism. We will then discuss more specific issues pertaining to marginalized groups such as immigrants or the disabled. Finally, we will examine empirical evidence about peoples’ fairness beliefs in the US and abroad. The course will allow students to form a more coherent notion of what they think is fair, while understanding that rational people can legitimately disagree with each other about what is fair.

Instructor(s): I. Marinescu      Terms Offered: TBD

PBPL 25810. Social Problems, Social Policy, and Social Change. 100 Units.

This course is designed to provide an analytic framework that enables students to understand how social problems are socially constructed, how social policies are created in response to those identified problems, and how social change efforts both shape and respond to the policy environment. During the quarter, we will examine how social problems, policies and programs are framed, re-framed, and addressed and how individuals, organizations, and relevant constituencies are involved in these processes.  In addition to providing an overview of the relationship between social problems, social policy, and social change efforts, the course encourages critical thought about the role of professionals (social workers, activists, journalists, etc.) in constructing and contesting social problems and solutions.

Instructor(s): J. Mosley     Terms Offered: TBD

PBPL 26002. Urban Design Studio. 100 Units.

Based on prior course work in either neighborhood or pedestrian-scale urbanism, students in this course will have the chance to formulate a proposal for intervention to address an issue previously uncovered. The proposal could be in the form of a written policy, two-dimensional plan, or three-dimensional design, depending on student interest. Example topics include policy proposals to address issues of gentrification and displacement, proposals to increase the spatial equity and accessibility of public space, three-dimensional visioning of future infill on vacant land, or development of a new kind of urban code to encourage pedestrian life.

Instructor(s): E. Talen     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 24200,ENST 26002,SOSC SOSC

PBPL 26003. Chicago by Design. 100 Units.

This course examines the theory and practice of urban design at the scale of block, street, and building—the pedestrian realm. Topics include walkability; the design of streets; architectural style and its effect on pedestrian experience; safety and security in relation to accessibility and social connection; concepts of urban fabric, repair, and placemaking; the regulation of urban form; and the social implications of civic spaces. Students will analyze normative principles and the debates that surround them through readings and discussion as well as firsthand interaction with the urbanism of Chicago. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): E. Talen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 24300,ENST 26003,SOSC 26003

PBPL 26200-26300. Field Research Project in Public Policy I-II.

This two-quarter sequence will expose students to real-world policy-making questions and field-based research methodologies. We will organize ourselves as a policy think tank working with various city agencies, non-profit organizations, and other corporations to design a research project, collect data, conduct analysis, and present findings. In the first quarter, we will follow a robust methodological training program in collaboration with University partners to advance the foundations laid elsewhere in the Public Policy Studies program. In the second quarter, this expertise in a full range of research methodologies will be put into practice to tackle public policy problems in the city and neighborhoods that surround the University.

PBPL 26200. Field Research Project in Public Policy I. 100 Units.

See sequence description.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): Open only to public policy studies majors. Third year standing recommended. PBPL 26200-26300 must be taken in sequence.

PBPL 26300. Field Research Project in Public Policy II. 100 Units.

See course sequence description.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 26200; open only to public policy studies majors. Third year standing recommended. PBPL 26200-26300 must be taken in sequence.

PBPL 26301. Field Research Project in Public Policy. 100 Units.

This one-quarter, project-based research course introduces students to hands-on social and policy research in the service of a client. Students will engage in a variety of field research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, in order to gather data on sociological and policy-based questions related to the needs of our community-based, not-for-profit clients. Students will use the data they gather to practice their write-up and presentation skills, culminating in a final research-based client presentation and extended memo.

Instructor(s): C. Broughton, Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open only to public policy studies majors. Third-year standing recommended.
Note(s): This course satisfies the Public Policy windows and methods practicum requirement and is intended only for that purpose.

PBPL 26400. Quantitative Methods in Public Policy. 100 Units.

Policy designers and policy analysts should understand the quantitative methods whereby social and economic reality can be described and policy outcomes evaluated; this course will introduce the basic methodologies used in quantitative social description. The underlying discipline is statistics, and this course will focus on statistical thinking and applications with real data sets. Students will be introduced to sampling, hypothesis testing, and regression, as well as other components of the basic toolkit of quantitative policy analysis.

Instructor(s): A. Fowler     Terms Offered: Spring

PBPL 26416. Latin American Extractivisms. 100 Units.

Latin American Extractivisms
,This course will survey the historical antecedents and contemporary politics of Latin American extractivisms. While resource extraction in Latin America is far from new, the scale and transnational scope of current “neoextractivisms” have unearthed unprecedented rates of profit as well as social conflict. Today’s oil wells, open-pit mines, and vast fields of industrial agriculture have generated previously unthinkable transformations to local ecologies and social life, while repeating histories of indigenous land dispossession in the present. Yet parallel to neo-extractive regimes, emergent Latin American social movements have unleashed impassioned and often unexpected forms of local and transnational resistance. Readings in the course will contrast cross-regional trends of extractive economic development and governance with fine-grained accounts of how individuals, families, and communities experience and respond to land dispossession, local and transregional conflict, and the ecological and health impacts of Latin American extractivisms.

Instructor(s): Stefanie Graeter     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 23093,LACS 26416

PBPL 26530. Environment, Agriculture, and Food: Economic and Policy Analysis. 100 Units.

The connections between environment, agriculture, and food are inherent in our social, cultural, and economic networks. Land use, natural resource management, energy balances, and environmental impacts are all important components in the evolution of agricultural systems. Therefore it is important to develop ways in which to understand these connections in order to design effective agricultural programs and policies. This course is designed to provide students with guidance on the models and tools needed to conduct an economic research study on the intersecting topics of environment, agriculture, and food. Students learn how to develop original research ideas using a quantitative and applied economic policy analysis for professional and scholarly audiences. Students collect, synthesize, and analyze data using economic and statistical tools. Students provide outcomes and recommendations based on scholarly, objective, and policy relevant research rather than on advocacy or opinions, and produce a final professional-quality report for a workshop presentation and publication. This small seminar course is open by instructor consent to undergraduate and graduate students who meet the prerequisites. For consideration, please submit a one-page proposal of research to

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20000 or ECON 20100 or PBPL 20000 or PBPL 22200 (or equivalent), STAT 22000 or STAT 23400 or PBPL 26400 (or equivalent); for ECON Enrollment: ECON 20000 and ECON 20100, STAT 23400
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 26530,PPHA 32510,ENST 26530

PBPL 26531. Environment, Agriculture, and Food: Advanced Economic and Policy Analysis. 100 Units.

This course is an extension of ENST 26530 but also stands alone as a complete course itself. Students don't need to take ENST 26530 to enroll in this course. This small seminar course is open by instructor consent to undergraduate and graduate students who meet the prerequisites. For consideration, please submit a one-page proposal of research to

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Not offered 2017-18
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20000 or ECON 20100 or PBPL 20000 or PBPL 22200 (or equivalent), STAT 22000 or STAT 23400 or PBPL 26400 (or equivalent); for ECON Enrollment: ECON 20000 and ECON 20100, STAT 23400
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 26540,PPHA 32520,ENST 26531

PBPL 26690. The Politics of Healthcare. 100 Units.

In this course we will tackle some of the complexity of healthcare head-on, considering how cultural, legal and structural factors shape the delivery of care. Our goal will be to address foundational questions about how we as a society imagine healthcare, the professionals who work within the field, and the patients. We will draw on evidence from the United States to ask: How have shifts in the institutional context in which medical professionals work altered their task? How do we imagine patients and their choices? How do external and internal pressures shape what issues are prioritized and who receives care?

Instructor(s): Sorcha Brophy     Terms Offered: Winter

PBPL 26700. Economics of Education. 100 Units.

This course explores economic models of the demand for and supply of different forms of schooling. The course examines the markets for primary, secondary, and post-secondary schooling. The course examines numerous public policy questions, such as the role of government in funding or subsidizing education, the design of public accountability systems, the design of systems that deliver publicly funded (and possibly provided) education, and the relationship between education markets and housing markets.

Instructor(s): D. Neal     Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): ECON 21020 or ECON 21030
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 26700

PBPL 27000. International Economics. 100 Units.

This course covers international economics with an emphasis on international trade. The basic theories of international trade are introduced and used to analyze welfare and distributional effects of international trade, government policies, and technology diffusion. In addition, this course also discusses the main empirical patterns of international trade and international investment.

Instructor(s): F. Tintelnot     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20100
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 27000

PBPL 27040. Public Finance and Public Policy. 100 Units.

This course analyzes the rationales for government intervention in the economy, the form that intervention takes, and the effects of government policy. We will review the economic tools of analysis used in public finance, including cost-benefit analysis, and apply them to government policies, largely at the federal level. The course will focus on policies to remedy externalities, the provision of public goods, social insurance, and the effects of taxes. Within social insurance, we will cover social security and health reform. We will also explore the role taxation plays in government policy. Tax topics include the effect of taxes on consumers and firms, savings and corporate decisions, and fundamental tax reform.

Instructor(s): A. Jones     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000

PBPL 27155. Urban Design with Nature: Assessing the Social and Natural Realms in the Calumet Region. 100 Units.

This course will use the Calumet region as a laboratory for evaluating the social, environmental, and economic effects of alternative forms of human settlement. Students will be introduced to the basics of geographic information systems (GIS) and use GIS to map the Calumet region’s “place types” – human habitats that vary along an urban-to-rural transect, as well as the ecosystem services provided by the types. They will then evaluate these place types using a range of social, economic and environmental criteria. In this way, students will evaluate the region’s potential to simultaneously realize economic potential, protect environmental health, and provide social connectivity.

Instructor(s): Sabina Shaikh and Emily Talen     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 27150,ENST 27150

PBPL 27221. Sustainable Urbanism. 100 Units.

This course explores cutting-edge solutions to today’s interrelated challenges of decarbonizing the economy, reversing the obesity epidemic, and replacing sprawl. In addition to learning about the current state of sustainable urban planning and design, students will apply to the Calumet region a collection of future-forward urban design strategies to build prosperous and sustainable urban communities that can thrive for years to come. Topics include community organizing; public health, safety, and welfare; governance; neighborhood planning and design; stormwater management; density, and net-zero-energy building design. While not a studio class, there will be opportunities to practice spatial design drawing, community engagement tactics, and sustainability metrics.

Instructor(s): Doug Farr     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 27221,ENST 27221

PBPL 27325. Urban Ecology in the Calumet Region. 100 Units.

This course will give students a strong foundation in the local ecology of the Calumet. Students will use local research and habitats to understand fundamental concepts in ecology and the scientific method. Students will explore some of these habitats during field trips with scientists and practitioners. The course focus will be on urban ecology in the region, whether these fundamental ecological concepts are applicable, what other factors need to be considered in the urban ecosystem, and the role humans have in restoring natural and managing novel ecosystems, among other topics.

Instructor(s): Alison Anastasio     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Enrollment is based on acceptance to the Chicago Studies Quarter: Calumet
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 27325,ENST 27325

PBPL 27750-27751. Practicum in Environment, Agriculture, and Food Policy I-II.

This course sequence is designed to acquaint students to real-world policy-making questions. Students will work together, along with an organizational partner, on designing and conducting a research project. Course work will involve academic literature reviews, various forms of data collection, research design, statistical analysis, and presentation of a final report. Previous projects have included certification of green restaurants in Chicago, mapping of campus green roofs in Chicago, transportation research for a Chicago museum exhibit, and design of incentive programs for storm water management in Chicago. Students in the course will also handle all aspects of running the Environment, Agriculture, and Food Working Group (, including communication and outreach through website content and social media. Completion of the two-quarter sequence satisfies the undergraduate public policy studies practicum requirement.

PBPL 27750. Practicum in Environment, Agriculture, and Food Policy I. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Autumn. Not offered 2017-18
Prerequisite(s): Open only to Public Policy majors and Environmental Studies majors and minors
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 27750

PBPL 27751. Practicum in Environment, Agriculture, and Food Policy II. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Winter. Not offered 2017-18
Prerequisite(s): Open only to Public Policy majors and Environmental Studies majors and minors
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 27751

PBPL 27809. Violence in the Early Years. 100 Units.

This course will address issues related to children's exposure to violence.  Classes will cover topics including, but not limited to, the history of violence against children (infanticide, etc), children's literature, parental violence towards children, school-related violence, practices such as female genital mutilation, and other policy-relevant issues related to violence in children's lives.  We will analyze policies and reforms, review relevant research on each topic, and examine implications of the findings to policy and practice.

Instructor(s): A. Adukia     Terms Offered: Winter

PBPL 27818. Philosophical Foundations of Public Policy. 100 Units.

“Evidence-based policy making” sounds like a slogan everyone can get behind. But its central components, cost-benefit analysis and program evaluation, have each been subject to severe philosophical questioning. Does cost-benefit analysis ignore important ethical concerns? Does program evaluation ignore valuable kinds of knowledge? We will introduce each of these debates, and then take up the question of how evidence-based policy might be reconciled with democratic theory. Class discussion and assignments will consider these topics in the context of specific policy areas, including climate change, discrimination, and education.

Instructor(s): S. Ashworth     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20000, PBPL 20000, ECON 20100, or PBPL 22200.

PBPL 27821. Urban Schools and Communities. 100 Units.

This course focuses on urban communities and the contextual factors influencing the organization of schools. It emphasizes historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives as we explore questions about the purpose and history of public schools, the influences on the character of their structure and organization (especially in urban areas), and the surrounding context, such as housing, policy, race and class. The topics detailed below provide essential intellectual perspectives on the history, work, and complexities of urban schools.

Instructor(s): S. Stoelinga     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): CHDV Distribution: C
Equivalent Course(s): CHDV 27821,SOCI 20226

PBPL 27823. Urban School Reform: History and Policy. 100 Units.

This course explores the goals, logic, and contradictions of the American education and school improvement efforts. We will consider the history of school reform and the processes that influence education policy implementation and enactment. Current school reform debates and policies will be analyzed from historical, contemporary, and divergent perspectives, considering theories of organizational change. The strengths and shortcomings of current school reform policies will be considered with a stress on understanding the wide range of goals for education, the process of policy-making, and the complexity of organizational and systemic change implied in reform policy.

Instructor(s): S. Stoelinga     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 20239

PBPL 27900. Global-Local Politics. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): T. Clark     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 20116,HMRT 30116,SOCI 30116,LLSO 20116,SOCI 20116

PBPL 27919. Research in School Improvement. 100 Units.

Research evidence and data play an increasingly important and complex role in efforts to reform under-performing school systems in the United States.  Both education policy and practice increasingly rely on sophisticated understandings of a dynamic interplay of complex organizations, systems, and policymaking.  This course introduces students to cutting edge models for using research and data public school reform efforts, including examples of randomized control trials, district-based research, research-practice partnerships, and quality improvement strategies.  The course includes concrete illustrations of research that reshaped educational practice drawn from the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Instructor(s): Elaine Allensworth and David Johnson     Terms Offered: Winter

PBPL 28019. Educational Policy Effects on Students’ Development. 100 Units.

This course examines the role of schools in students’ cognitive and socio-emotional development, and the influence of local, state, and federal educational policy on students’ outcomes. We will analyze the factors that contribute to student growth and development, both inside and outside of school, and school practices that are designed to promote equity and growth.  Specific educational policies that have influenced educational practice will be discussed, including the assumptions behind them, their intended purpose, their unintended consequences, and the evidence for their success or failure.

Instructor(s): Elaine Allensworth and Shanette Porter     Terms Offered: Spring

PBPL 28050. Remaking Chicago: The City That Works on Social Change. 100 Units.

In this sociological and policy-oriented course, students interface with change-agents in Chicago—community residents, religious leaders, and social activists; not-for-profit and governmental actors; and educators and researchers. The course explores how these change-agents advance innovative and also tried-and-true approaches to social problems, especially those of low-income areas characterized by troubled schools and high rates of crime (and with a particular focus on South Side neighborhoods). Students are asked to think critically about how meaningful social change occurs, and why it so often does not. The central components of the course are Chicago-oriented readings, guest speakers and panels, Friday excursions, and independent field research. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): Broughton, C.     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open to Study Chicago Quarter students.

PBPL 28270. Economics and International Health. 100 Units.

This course uses the tools of applied microeconomics to explore public health issues in the developing world. The course will develop an economic approach to health and health behavior, and examine how health care markets in developing countries mediate the welfare of patients. We will consider the economic aspects of HIV, malaria, diarrhea, and air pollution. Along the way, we will weigh the merits of common policy responses to these problems.

Instructor(s): D. Bennett     Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): ECON 19800, ECON 20000 or PBPL 20000 (Microeconomics) and a Statistics course or consent of the instructor.

PBPL 28300. Health Economics and Public Policy. 100 Units.

This course analyzes the economics of health and medical care in the United States with particular attention to the role of government. The first part of the course examines the demand for health and medical care and the structure and the consequences of public and private insurance. The second part of the course examines the supply of medical care, including professional training, specialization and compensation, hospital competition, and finance and the determinants and consequences of technological change in medicine. The course concludes with an examination of recent proposals and initiatives for health care reform.

Instructor(s): D. Meltzer     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000 and one undergraduate course in quantitative research methods (Statistics or Econometrics) or the equivalent or consent of the instructor
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 27700,PPHA 38300,CCTS 38300,PBHS 38300

PBPL 28375. Political Economy of Development. 100 Units.

This course explores why some countries are poor and violent, and what (if anything) peaceful and prosperous countries can do to foster stability and development elsewhere in the world. The first half of the course looks at history and theory to understand the roots of violence and how order and development emerged in some places. The second half of the course looks at Western interventions in the last half century (and today), from aid to military intervention to democracy portion, to understand why some efforts succeed and fail. 

Instructor(s): C. Blattman     Terms Offered: TBD

PBPL 28425. Strategic Behavior and Regulation of Firms. 100 Units.

This course will examine the role of public policy in oligopoly markets, where competition is imperfect. We will examine the strategies that firms use to increase profits, the effects of those strategies on consumers, and the cases for and against regulatory intervention in markets. Topics will include issues such as mergers, predation, price discrimination, collusion, and network economics. Class discussions will frequently focus on the economics of recent business and regulatory case studies, such as the California electricity crisis, Google's use of its search engine, and net neutrality regulation. An important component of the course will be the Competitive Strategy Game, in which students will form firms that compete against one another in several simulated markets, allowing students to gain first-hand experience with some of the strategic decisions firms regularly face.

Instructor(s): R. Kellogg     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000

PBPL 28488. Politics and Public Policy in Latin America. 100 Units.

This course will cover the politics of policy making in Latin America. The first part will focus on understanding the problems of economic development in the region. It will address how and why Latin America is different by looking at its economic outcomes, economic and social policies and political institutions. It will also look at different examples of how political institutions shape policy outcomes. The second part will ground the distinctiveness of Latin America in its history, and show why understanding this is critical for comprehending why it is so different from the United States. It will explore how these historical factors persist, for example, how the legacy of authoritarianism shapes redistributive policies and how these historical foundations have created the weak Latin American states we see today. The third part of the course will look at how groups such as civil society or violent actors can also shape policymaking and welfare in this region. Finally, it will discuss some perspectives on whether some countries in the region have managed to find ways to change their political institutions and subsequently their social and economic policies with the prospect of creating a more prosperous society. The aim of this course is for students to gain empirical knowledge on the region's politics and policies as well as practical understanding of political factors that shape policy outcomes.

Instructor(s): Maria Bautista     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000

PBPL 28501. Process and Policy in State and City Government. 100 Units.

This course consists of three interrelated sub-sections: (1) process and policy in city and state government; (2) the role played by influential, key officials in determining policy outcomes; and (3) policymaking during and after a political crisis. Issues covered include isolating the core principles driving policy at city and state levels; understanding how high level elected officials can shape the course of policy; and determining how a political crisis affects policy processes and outcomes. Most of the specific cases are drawn from Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Instructor(s): C. Harris     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter

PBPL 28538. Political Economy of Natural Resources. 100 Units.

The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the political and economic consequences of natural resource wealth. The course will combine theoretical models and empirical evidence on the relationship between natural resources and outcomes such as low economic growth, authoritarianism, corruption and conflict. We will look at the very different experiences of different resource-rich countries (e.g. Norway v.s. Venezuela) and will also explore the differences across resources (e.g. oil vs minerals). The course will provide a setting for the discussion of the merits and potential pitfalls of various policies for the management of natural resource wealth.

Instructor(s): Luis Martinez     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 20000 or ECON 20000 and PBPL 26400

PBPL 28550. Social Experiments: Design and Experimentation. 100 Units.

The pressure in many fields (notably medicine, health research, and education) for evidence-based results has increased the importance of the design and analysis of social investigations. This course will address two broad topics: (i) the design of experiments, quasi-experiments, and surveys; and (ii) the use of these social investigations for generalization in policy areas. The course will explore how the relationship between surveys and experiments can inform generalization from experiments. Randomized clinical trials in medicine, field experiments in economics and psychology, and the use of scientific evidence in policy formulation will be among the examples. 

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: TBD

PBPL 28605. Economic Analysis of Law. 100 Units.

This course involves the application of the choice theory of economics to the opportunities obtainable within different legal environments. The likelihood that a person will choose to return a lost wallet, keep a promise, drive more carefully, or heed the terms in a will is partly a function of the applicable laws and regulations. Alternative rules, under the standard Law and Economics approach, are compared in terms of the economic efficiency of their subsequent outcomes. This efficiency lens of Law and Economics is applied to rules concerning property, torts, contracts, and criminal behavior.

Instructor(s): J. Leitzel     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20100
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 28600

PBPL 28640. Mixed Methods Approaches to Policy Research. 100 Units.

This course will introduce students to a diverse range of mixed methods approaches to policy research. Students will learn about multiple disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches to policy research. The course will expose students to different styles of mixed methods research, including a small project on qualitative data analysis.  Students in this course will become critical consumers of both qualitative and quantitative research, specifically, what types of questions best lend themselves to quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies.

Instructor(s): A. Claessens     Terms Offered: Autumn

PBPL 28747. The Modern Welfare State. 100 Units.

In 2016, Denmark was the happiest country in the world according to a United Nations happiness report.  Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland have shared 20 years of relative prosperity and now are among the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. They are also ``welfare states" with very high levels of taxation and redistribution--policies at odds with traditional views on the power of incentives to encourage prosperity.  The influence of the Nordic Model is evident is policy discussion in the US on issues ranging from educational subsidies to family-friendly workplaces.  What can policy makers in other countries learn from the successes and failures of the Nordic Model?  This class has three goals: 1. to familiarize you with Nordic taxes and subsidies, 2. to help you understand why these policies are successful (or appear to be successful), and 3. to give you the tools to critically evaluate suggestions for similar policy implementation in the US.

Instructor(s): Yana Gallen     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PBPL 26400 or equivalent

PBPL 28750. Conflict: Root Causes, Conseq. and Solutions for the Future. 100 Units.

This course will focus on understanding the causes and consequences of conflict, drawing on literatures from economics, political science and psychology.  We will study why people join armed groups; and examine the role of ethnicity, religion and poverty in terrorism and civil war. We will also study whether conflict has lasting consequences on social cohesion and prospects for economic development. Finally, we will examine how individuals reconcile and rebuild in the aftermath of conflict.

Instructor(s): Dube, O     Terms Offered: Winter

PBPL 28775. Poverty and Economic Development. 100 Units.

This course focuses mainly on the microeconomic fundamentals of economic development.  We will study causes of poverty and underdevelopment, poverty measurement issues, and policies to improve well-being. We will concentrate on topics such as fertility, nutrition and health, education, labor markets, intra-household allocation of resources and foreign aid. Empirical evidence from developing economies will be used extensively.

Instructor(s): A. Menendez     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): A microeconomics course and a statistics/econometrics course is required. This course is recommended for third and fourth-year students.

PBPL 28790. Psychology for Policy Designers. 100 Units.

Many policies are aimed at influencing people’s behavior. The most well-intentioned policies can fail, however, if they are not designed to be compatible with the way people actually think and make decisions. This course will draw from the fields of cognitive, social, and environmental psychology to (1) examine the ways in which human behavior deviates from the standard rational actor model typically assumed by economics, and (2) provide strategies for improving the design, implementation, and evaluation of public-facing policies. The basic premise of this course is that a foundational understanding of human behavior can lead not only to more effective policies, but enhanced decision-making and well-being.

Instructor(s): K. Wolske     Terms Offered: Spring

PBPL 28805. Behavioral Economics and Policy. 100 Units.

The standard theory of rational choice exhibits explanatory power in a vast range of circumstances, including such disparate decision making environments as whether to commit a crime, have children, or seek to emigrate. Nonetheless, shortfalls from full rationality seem not to be uncommon, and are themselves, to some extent, systematic. Behavioral economics documents and tries to account for these departures from full rationality. This course looks at areas in which some modification of the traditional rational choice apparatus might most be warranted; these include decisions that unfold over time, involve low probability events, or implicate willpower. To what extent should public policy respond to shortfalls from rationality or concern itself with promoting happiness?

Instructor(s): J. Leitzel     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 26920

PBPL 28820. Machine Learning and Policy. 100 Units.

The goal of this course is to make students better producers and consumers of machine learning tools designed to help solve public policy problems. One thing this goal requires is some understanding of the basics of machine learning: how it works, what makes it different from the usual sort of statistical and econometric tools that we tend to use in social science studies of public policy problems, and how to implement these prediction models (which we will be doing in R, a free statistical program that now includes many machine learning packages). But this goal also requires some understanding of issues that are outside the usual machine learning toolkit, such as: what sorts of public policy problems are right for these tools, and which are not; how do we know whether a new prediction tool is capable of actually improving policy decisions, not just predicting outcomes accurately within some hold-out set; what additional considerations around fairness and other normative values may arise in using machine learning tools for public policy applications; and what challenges are associated with getting policymakers, front-line practitioners or individual citizens to make use of prediction tools and resulting decision aids.

Instructor(s): J. Ludwig     Terms Offered: Spring

PBPL 28920. Inequality: Origins, Dimensions, and Policy. 100 Units.

For the last three decades, incomes in the United States and across the globe have grown more unequal. That fact has attracted worldwide attention from scholars, governments, religious figures, and public intellectuals. In this interdisciplinary course, participating faculty members drawn from across the University and invited guest speakers will trace and examine the sources and challenges of inequality and mobility in many of its dimensions, from economic, political, legal, biological, philosophical, public policy, and other perspectives. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Inequality.

Instructor(s): A. Sanderson and Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 24720,BPRO 28900

PBPL 29000. Energy and Energy Policy. 100 Units.

This course shows how scientific constraints affect economic and other policy decisions regarding energy, what energy-based issues confront our society, how we may address them through both policy and scientific study, and how the policy and scientific aspects can and should interact. We address specific technologies, both those now in use and those under development, and the policy questions associated with each, as well as with more overarching aspects of energy policy that may affect several, perhaps many, technologies.

Instructor(s): S. Berry, G. Tolley     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. For ECON majors who want ECON credit for this course (ECON 26800): PQ is ECON 20100.
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 37502,ECON 26800,ENST 29000,PPHA 39201,PSMS 39000,BPRO 29000

PBPL 29050. Youth Law and Policy: Child Welfare and Juv. Just. in the U.S. 100 Units.

This course explores how legal institutions protect and punish children in the United States. We will spend the first part of the course exploring the child welfare system, which purports to protect children from abuse and neglect through various mechanisms including foster care and the termination of parental rights.  We will spend the second part of the course exploring the juvenile justice system, which purports to prosecute and rehabilitate children for their criminal acts in a system separate from the criminal justice system. In the final part of the course, we will consider special topics in this area of law and policy including “cross-over youth” (i.e. children involved in both systems), unaccompanied immigrant children, homeless and runaway youth, and the so-called “school-to-prison-pipeline.” This course will place special emphasis on the judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and social workers that comprise these legal institutions.

Instructor(s): Andrew Hammond     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 29050,LLSO 29050

PBPL 29120. Poverty Law and Policy Reform. 100 Units.

This seminar seeks to give students a comprehensive understanding of the major anti-poverty programs in the United States with an emphasis on current challenges and reform proposals. We will spend the first half of the course exploring the implementation and evaluation of the programs that make up the traditional safety net for poor Americans: income supports, health insurance, and housing assistance. We will spend the rest of the quarter exploring topics that complicate the traditional social policy regime, including how the safety net is more robust for some groups, such as the elderly and veterans, than others. We will explore how the legal systems of immigration and incarceration hamper anti-poverty policy and how safety net programs address the needs of rural and Native Americans. Finally, we will investigate two recent developments in the field: social entrepreneurship and the critique of procedural rights.

Instructor(s): Hammond, A.      Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): No first year students; attendance on the first day of class is required.
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 29120,LLSO 29120

PBPL 29122. Comparative Law and the Welfare State. 100 Units.

How do welfare states, complex public systems of the twentieth century, respond to various challenges of the twenty-first?  Drawing on both comparative legal methods and social science, this course explores how contemporary societies manage globalization, population aging and inequality through social welfare law.  Specific areas of study may include old age insurance, childcare, healthcare, labor market regulation and immigration law.

Instructor(s): Andrew Hammond     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 29122

PBPL 29200. Global Energy & Climate Challenge: Economics, Science & Policy. 100 Units.

The global energy and climate challenge is one of the most important and urgent problems society faces. Progress requires identifying approaches to ensure people have access to the inexpensive and reliable energy critical for human development, without causing disruptive climate change or unduly compromising health and the environment. The course pairs technical and economic analysis to develop an understanding of policy challenges in this area. Lecture topics will include the past, present, and future of energy supply and demand, global climate change, air pollution and its health consequences, selected energy technologies such as solar photovoltaics, nuclear power, unconventional oil and gas, and an analysis of theoretical and practical policy solutions in developed and emerging economies.

Instructor(s): M. Greenstone, J. Deutch     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing in the College.
Equivalent Course(s): ECON 26730,ENST 28220,BPRO 29200

PBPL 29355. Leading Complex Organizations. 100 Units.

In virtually any field of endeavor, individuals will find themselves operating within organizations — many of them quite complex.  By studying leadership of such organizations at the outset of a career, individuals will learn how to better succeed within any organization and will attain a level of preparation for assuming leadership positions if they ultimately become available.  The seminar will cover a number of critical subjects:  the difference between leadership and management; the development of the organization’s sense of mission and the strategy to achieve it; organizational culture; building and leading a team; entrepreneurial leadership; organizational transformation; leading an organization through crisis; how a leader relates to an organization’s governing body and external constituencies; how leaders are held accountable.  

Instructor(s): Thomas Cole     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing

PBPL 29404. Inequality, Household Finance, and Tax Policy. 100 Units.

The first component of this course will feature seminar discussions of income inequality and US tax policy, with a focus on income transfers such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. We will also review current policy topics in Household Finance, the study of how households save, borrow, and/or use insurance to overcome unexpected changes in household income. In addition, we will discuss the process of filing tax returns, the prevalence of income tax refunds, and the various industries, both non-profit and for-profit, that have arisen around this phenomenon. Next, students will go into the field, and work as volunteer tax preparers for a local, Chicago non-profit, the Center for Economic Progress (CEP). Students will be trained as tax preparers (which requires a 3-hour training session), learn how these services are delivered, and will also learn about the various social goals and public benefits that are often coupled with this process. Tax season begins in late January, and the students will work on site at some steady frequency, until the end of the quarter. Students are also encouraged, though not required, to continue to volunteer until the end of the tax season, April 15th.  Finally, students will produce one of three deliverables. They can prepare an evaluation of CEP or they can produce a policy brief, or they can produce a research proposal. This course satisfies the Public Policy windows practicum requirement. 

Instructor(s): A. Jones     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PPHA 39404

PBPL 29600. Internship: Public Policy. 100 Units.

Students write a paper about their experience working for a government agency or nonprofit organization.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of program chair
Note(s): Open only to students who are majoring in public policy. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Must be taken for P/F grading. Students must make arrangements with the program chair before beginning the internship.

PBPL 29700. Reading and Research: Public Policy. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open only to students who are majoring in public policy
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.

PBPL 29701. Readings and Research: Working Group in Environment, Agriculture, and Food (EAF) 100 Units.

This course consists of participation in the Environment, Agriculture, and Food Group in a role assigned by the instructor.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Registration by instructor consent only
Note(s): Please email Sabina Shaikh at
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 29701

PBPL 29800. Senior Seminar. 100 Units.

PBPL 29800, the Senior Seminar, is offered in Autumn Quarter and is designed to assist students in developing and writing the required BA paper. Students register for PBPL 29800 in Autumn Quarter and continue to work throughout Winter and Spring Quarters with a BA Seminar instructor/preceptor (and possibly faculty advisers) in revising their BA papers. The Autumn Quarter class informs students about sources, methods of research, and treatment of evidence. The instructor/preceptor of the Senior Seminar serves as a reader for the BA papers. Students may choose a faculty adviser as a second reader—though second readers are not required. Outstanding BA papers can earn an honors designation. As part of the BA process, students write a policy memo that distills their BA research and, in early April, present their BA papers at the yearly Public Policy undergraduate research symposium for graduating seniors.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open only to fourth-year students who are majoring in public policy
Note(s): Must be taken for a quality grade.

PBPL 29900. BA Paper Preparation: Public Policy. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open only to fourth-year students who are majoring in public policy
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.

PBPL PBPL . Violence in the Early Years. 100 Units.

This course will address issues related to children's exposure to violence.  Classes will cover topics including, but not limited to, the history of violence against children (infanticide, etc), children's literature, parental violence towards children, school-related violence, practices such as female genital mutilation, and other policy-relevant issues related to violence in children's lives.  We will analyze policies and reforms, review relevant research on each topic, and examine implications of the findings to policy and practice.

Instructor(s): A. Adukia     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Program Director
Jim Leitzel
G-B 222

Secondary Contact

Associate Program Director for Public Policy
Chad Broughton
G-B 218A

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
Lee Price
G-B 216

Preceptor/BA Advisor

Program Preceptors

G-B 218-B