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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center
Dartmouth College
6082 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755 USA
603 646-3874
Rockefeller Center
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Minor Requirements & Course Descriptions

The Public Policy Minor requirements include a research methods prerequisite and six courses: the policymaking course, two courses in public policy methods, two courses in a policy track of a student’s design, and one public policy seminar relating to the student’s policy track. Students who wish to pursue the minor must officially sign up for it no later than the third term prior to graduation and are encouraged to enroll during their sophomore or junior year. The six courses required for the minor may not count toward a student’s major or another minor.

To Plan a Minor in Public Policy


One course conveying quantitative or qualitative research methods. Options include: Public Policy 10, Economics 10, Government 10, Mathematics 10, Psychology 10, Sociology 10, Mathematics and Social Sciences 15, Geography 11, Geography 50, Sociology 11, or Education 11. The Rockefeller Center offers one of these options:

PBPL 10: Statistical Analysis for Public Policy

Public Policy analysis involves quantitative methods and statistical methods in particular.  PBPL 10 introduces students to basic statistical techniques and to the statistical software package, STATA, with a heavy emphasis on application, from the initial stages of data exploration to presentation of results.  Coursework will involve "real world" policies and problems and will utilize existing datasets from the public policy sphere.  The course will also consider research design and the ethics of quantitative policy research.  Because of the large overlap in material covered, no student may receive credit for more than one of the courses Public Policy 10, Economics 10, Government 10, Mathematics 10, Psychology 10, Mathematics and Social Sciences 15, or Sociology 10 except by special petition.  Dist: QDS.

Gateway Policymaking Course

PBPL 5: Introduction to Public Policy

This course is designed as the gateway offering for students beginning to pursue a minor in public policy through the Rockefeller Center. The term will be divided into four main components:

  • The Nature of Public Policy: What is Public Policy, Who Makes It, and Why Study It?

  • Making Public Policy: The Process, Structure, and Context of Policymaking

  • The Policy Players: Institutional and Non-Institutional Actors

  • The Policy Game: Rules, Strategies, Culture, and Resources

In the concluding section of the course, we will be pursuing specific policy domains—environmental policy, education policy, health care policy, welfare policy, immigration policy, and defense policy.  QDS: Soc; WCult: W.

First Year Seminar

PBPL 7: Leadership and Foreign Policy Decision-making

Do heads of state matter when it comes to making foreign policy decisions? We certainly act as if they do and we vote as if they do. But how and when do they matter most? In this course, we will study the essence of foreign policy decision-making with a special emphasis on the sorts of decisions that leaders can and do make. As we do so, we will be introduced to a number of concepts that will help to explain the processes of foreign policy decision-making. These include the political psychology of leaders, the dangers of groupthink and crisis decision-making, and the role that various organizations play in setting foreign policy. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

Policy Methods Courses

Select two courses from the following list.

PBPL 40: Economics of Public Policymaking

The course will use the basic tools of economics to analyze the most significant current public policy issues in the United States. Given the time constraints of the course, we will focus on the issues that the current presidential administration is confronting. The goal is to understand both the substance and politics of each issue. We will examine the effects of recent policy changes and analyze the likely effects of current reforms, particularly those that are being debated in the political arena now.  Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 41/WRIT 41: Writing and Speaking Public Policy

Writing and Speaking Public Policy is a hands-on experience, designed for students planning for a career in leadership, government, and public policy. The course uses politics, law, popular culture, psychology, history, and theater, as well as public policy, to draw out fundamental persuasive principles and techniques. It will provide models of successful policy campaigns ... as well as those that suffered from some fatal flaws. We will start to explore barriers to effective communication and work with some tools for surmounting them. Prerequisite: Public Policy 5.  Dist: ART; WCult: W.

PBPL 42/GOVT 60: Ethics and Public Policy

This course examines the nature and validity of arguments about vexing moral issues in public policy. Students examine a number of basic moral controversies in public life, focusing on different frameworks for thinking about justice and the ends of politics. The primary aim of the course is to provide each student with an opportunity to develop his/her ability to think in sophisticated ways about morally difficult policy issues. Among the questions students address will be the following: Are policies that permit torture justifiable under any circumstances? Do people have basic moral claims to unequal economic holdings and rewards, or should economic distribution be patterned for the sake of social justice? Should people be permitted to move freely between countries? Is abortion wrong in theory or in practice, and in what ways should it be restricted?  Prerequisite: Public Policy 5.  Dist: TMV, WCult: W. 

PBPL 43/ECON 77: Social Entrepreneurship

This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship, defined as the process of finding innovative, sustainable solutions to social problems, particularly those related to poverty. Students will learn about the nature and causes of poverty, both domestically and internationally, and about the role that social entrepreneurs play in addressing poverty. The course culminates with teams of students developing business models for their own social entrepreneurship ventures. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 44/GOVT 37: Polling, Public Opinion, and Public Policy

The results of public opinion polls frequently dominate political news coverage and they often alter the behavior of politicians; moreover, political polls have started becoming news in their own right in recent years. In this course, we will explore the techniques that pollsters use to examine public attitudes and we will consider how that information can, and should, be used to formulate public policy. We will engage questions such as: To what degree can the public form meaningful preferences about complex political issues? What does a political opinion consist of, and how can it be measured? How can potential errors in polls be avoided? How does partisanship influence public opinion, and where do Americans stand on key policy issues? To what extent should politicians try to change public opinion rather than respond to it? How has the nature and role of public opinion shifted in an era of rapidly advancing polling technology and a changing media environment? In addition to examining the pertinent literature on topics such as these, we will conduct and analyze an actual public opinion survey as a class. Through a combination of theoretical and hands-on learning, students will leave the course with a firm understanding of these dynamics. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 45: Introduction to Public Policy Research

This course focuses on strategies for, and actual practice of, conducting research relevant to public policy decision-making. Students will be exposed to a variety of research methodologies used in public policy analysis. This course is designed to be a core element of the Public Policy Minor and will also serve as a training ground for prospective applicants wishing to serve in the Rockefeller Public Policy Research Shop during the winter and spring terms. Prerequisite: A course employing mathematical reasoning or statistical methods (e.g., Economics 10 or Public Policy 10). Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 47: Foundations of Leadership

To evaluate political leadership one must ask: Where are we going? After all, one leads a specific population toward a desired end. With this in mind, this course has two purposes: 1) to investigate some of the most crucial texts of political philosophy, with focus on their assessments of the principles and sources of leadership, and 2) to investigate the political ideologies informing their authors' world views in order to better understand the goals to which we lead and are being led. In so doing, we will view leadership not as the masterful work of an elite few, but as the collective responsibility of informed citizenship. Therefore, this course will work to prepare students "for a lifetime of learning and responsible leadership." Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 48: Policy Analysis and Local Governance

This course analyzes the public policy challenges faced by local communities and serves as a gateway to the Rockefeller Center's Policy Research Shop. Particular emphasis will be placed on issues in urban areas, including education, crime, poverty, economic development, transportation, and housing. Throughout the course, students will use both their hometowns and towns in New Hampshire and Vermont to study how specific communities have attempted to address these challenges. The course examines the roles of various actors--citizens, non-profits, and government agencies at all levels--in effecting positive change in local public policy outcomes. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 49/ENVS 70:  Environmental Policy Research Workshop

This course is designed to guide students in conducting research on environmental policy-based projects. These projects are based on requests from the Vermont and New Hampshire state legislatures. Students will be taught the basic theory and research methods in environmental social science, and spend the second half the course applying these skills in team-based settings to prepare proposal for research that could address the questions posed in the projects. The course will also prepare prospective applicants wishing to serve in the Rockefeller Public Policy Research Shop during the winter and spring terms. DIST: SOC.

ECON 20: Econometrics

Econometrics is the statistical analysis of economic data. This course focuses on regression analysis (specification, estimation, and hypothesis testing) and problems and pitfalls in its application in economics. The course involves extensive use of the statistical program STATA and will enable students to implement their own empirical research projects in preparation for the culminating experience in the economics major. Prerequisites: Economics 10 and Mathematics 3.  Dist: QDS.

Public Policy Track Courses

PBPL 26: Health Policy & Clinical Practice

Health care in the United States costs more than in other countries, but is it better? Answering this question requires understanding a wide range of subjects, including the pathophysiology of disease, clinical decision making, epidemiology, and public policy. This course provides an introduction to these tools. We will also consider additional questions: Is more screening & early diagnosis the best way to stay healthy? Does more treatment always help people feel better? And how has the "Dartmouth School" of health policy contributed to the debate? Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 51: Leadership in Civil Society

This course examines the relationship between leadership and civil society. Known commonly as the “nonprofit” sector, civil society mediates the space between citizens and the state, and is often how citizens engage in public problem solving, have a direct impact on policy, and participate in civic life. This course focuses on aspects of leadership directly applicable to organizational manifestations of civil society: nongovernmental and social movement organizations, philanthropy, religious institutions, media, and public interest groups. Students will explore nonprofit and public leadership as it relates to these organizations, and critically analyze concepts of social capital, grassroots mobilization, interest group influence, organizational maintenance, political representation, and civic action. The course also looks at political parties and coalitions as aggregators of societal interests and as intermediaries between citizens and the state.  Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 52/GOVT 30.02: Leadership and Political Institutions

This course explores how political leaders in the U.S. reconcile the constraints of public office with the opportunities to make major changes in society. Drawing from diverse materials on the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, the course explores the following questions: How does leadership differ in the public and private spheres? What personal skills and attributes affect the success or failure of leaders of political institutions? What criteria do/should citizens apply to public leaders? How do political context and historical contingency shape institutional leadership?  Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

Public Policy Seminar Courses

PBPL 81.3: Urban Politics and Public Policymaking

This course examines how and why cities attempt to address the problems that face them. It investigates who makes public policy in cities and why. The course then considers how and why these actors make policy. The final part of this class analyzes the effects of these policies. The class focuses upon urban education, housing, public safety, economic development, and other policy areas of significance to urban governments. Dist:SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 81.5/SOCY 55: Poverty and Public Policy in the United States

More than one in ten Americans lives in poverty according to official statistics. This course explores the nature and extent of poverty in the United States and the role of the government in addressing poverty issues. How do we measure poverty? Why does poverty persist? Why is there so little political discourse about poverty in America today? How effective are various poverty alleviation programs? Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 81.7/ANTH 16: Secrecy and Lying in Politics, Law and Society

Claims to secret knowledge—in families, organizations, and states—is a form of authority over those who do not possess it. This seminar explores how claims to secret knowledge and lying relate to the institutional and cultural frameworks in which knowledge is produced, the use of "leaks" to challenge hierarchical controls and sometimes sustain them, and the ways in which secrecy, deception, and lying form a necessary and often desirable part of social, political, and economic life. (CULT) Dist: SOC.

PBPL 81.9/GOVT 83.02: Politics and Markets

Someone once said, There is a place for the market, and the market must be kept in its place. In this course, we explore the policy debates in the U.S. over the proper role of government in promoting market efficiency and protecting citizens from the adverse consequences of market competition. We begin with an effort to define the scope of the private and public sectors. We then consider an array of policy instruments to correct market failures and redistribute income. Finally, we examine the use of market-oriented approaches to policy problems, such as cost-benefit analysis, vouchers, and pollution rights. Dist: SOC; WCult: NA / W.

PBPL 82.1: Military Statecraft in International Relations

Finding answers for many complex foreign policy questions requires weighing a set of political goals against an estimate of the potential military costs and risks. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the missions and capabilities of military forces, and to teach them how to estimate the likely costs, risks, and outcomes of military operations. This course will use theoretical works and historical cases to familiarize students with some of the principles of air, ground, and naval operations. Students will use the tools which they learn in class to conduct a detailed military analysis that bears on an important current foreign policy question. No prior knowledge of military forces is needed for this class. Prerequisite: Government 5 or permission of the instructor. The instructor encourages seniors, juniors, as well as sophomores with strong writing and research skills, to enroll in this seminar. Dist: SOC or INT.

PBPL 82.2/SOCY 67: Political Power of Ideas

Politicians fight constantly over ideas. This course explores where these ideas come from and how politicians try to convince us that their ideas are best. It examines how people's values influence which ideas they believe or not. It questions the role of experts in policy making and whether we should trust them. And it analyzes how policy ideas change. Emphasis is largely but not entirely on the political power of ideas in the United States. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 84.2: Health Policy Reform

The goal of the course is to analyze likely strengths and weaknesses of U.S. health reform to address three major challenges in the health care system: access, cost, and quality of health care. To do this, students will study key elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in March, 2010, considering how it extends or differs from prior health policies to address enduring problems in health care. In addition to readings, class discussion and in-class exercises (debates and policy simulations), course work will incorporate brief exercises designed to introduce students to commonly used sources of health data, and analytical approaches. Students will explore one aspect of health reform in detail, preparing and presenting a short research project on an approved topic. Prerequisites - at least one of the following: Public Policy 5, Public Policy 26, or Sociology 28. Government 10, Economics 10 or similar course is helpful.  Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 84.4/GOVT 84.08/LATS 54: Immigration and Security Policy at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Security and immigration policy along the U.S.-Mexico border has become a political proving ground, encompassing issues of self-identity and global responsibility. This seminar offers students the opportunity to investigate immigration and admissions policy, law enforcement and citizen activism in border societies, and the securitization of the border.In doing so, we will explore the challenges of setting border policies and the repercussions that these policies have both at the border and beyond.  Dist: SOC; WCult: W. 

 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership: U.S Strategy for Revitalizing the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Public Policy 85 is designed to provide real world international policy experience for a select group of public policy minors at the Rockefeller Center. Twelve rising juniors and seniors will be selected to study our 2015 topic: U.S. Strategy for Revitalizing the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. During the fall quarter of '15, the participating students will study this topic in depth, as they would for any other Dartmouth class. The unique aspect of the course is that at end of the fall quarter the 12 students and Senior Lecturer Charles Wheelan '88 will travel to Israel and Jordan, where they will spend two weeks meeting with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, journalists, business leaders, U.S. diplomats, and other experts "on the ground" who can help to inform their topic of study. This travel will take place after the formal conclusion of the term during the first two weeks of December. At the conclusion of the international visit, the participating students are responsible for producing a single collaborative 40-50 page briefing memo with specific policy recommendations. The criteria for selecting students for the Practicum in Global Policy Leadership include: past academic performance; prior completion of introductory course work at the Rockefeller Center (e.g. Public Policy 5); a demonstrated intellectual interest in the subject of study; and a personality suited for rigorous, low-budget international travel.

December 2013 - India Practicum Student Blog

PBPL 91: Independent Study in Public Policy

This course offers an opportunity for a student enrolled in the Public Policy Minor to do advanced, independent work under the direction of a faculty member in the area of public policy. The topic under study may relate to prior coursework in the Public Policy Minor, an off-campus internship, or a co-curricular activity sponsored by the Rockefeller Center. All students enrolled in Public Policy 91 in a given term should expect to meet regularly together for classroom instruction and discussion with Rockefeller Center faculty and staff. To enroll, a student must prepare a brief proposal that describes the topic to be studied, its relationship to the student's prior public policy courses or activities, and the student's goals for undertaking the research. Prerequisites: Public Policy 5 and the Research Methods course prerequisite to the Public Policy Minor.

Last Updated: 10/22/15