The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Policy Methods Courses

Select two courses from the following list for partial satisfaction of the Public Policy Minor

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.

PDF iconPBPL 40 Syllabus

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.

PDF iconPBPL 41 Syllabus

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.

PDF iconPBPL 42 Syllabus

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.

PDF iconpbpl_43_syllabus_winter_2017_20160927.pdf

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 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.

PDF iconPBPL 45 Syllabus

PBPL 46/GOVT 30.11: Policy Implementation

Good policies are neither self-executing nor self-enforcing.  Likewise, bad policies are not self-destructing.  Indeed, when the President signs a law, this is but the beginning of a new set of equally important political activities and policy battles.  This course explores central features of implementation, including bureaucratic activity, judicial review, and street-level administration, and central concepts including principal agent relationships, delegation, oversight, interpretation, maintenance, and erosion, through key cases, including police, health care, and civil rights.  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' worldviews 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.

PDF iconPBPL 47 Syllabus

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 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 pf the course applying these skills in team-based settings to prepare a proposal for research that could address the questions posed in the projects. The course will also prepare prospective applicants wishing to serve in the 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.

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