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

"The Direct Line"- Winter 2007

Article Type 

Rockefeller Center Director Andrew Samwick provides commentary on a variety of issues in the Direct Line, which is published at the start of each term.

Two hundred members of the Class of 2010 flocked to the Center's fall Open House. Greeted by Rockefeller student leaders and staff, they were introduced to the many curricular and co-curricular offerings at the Center. It was a festive and informative event, but most exciting was the positive response of the 2010s to the new First-Year Initiative (FYI). Created and implemented this year to bring students interested in public policy to the Center earlier in their Dartmouth career, the FYI provides the opportunity for them to delve into a comprehensive plan of study and activity. Open House is a tradition at the Center, and it is one of my favorite days each academic year.

Predictably, students ask the question, “Why should I minor in Public Policy?” The answer is three-fold. First, students have the opportunity to study a set of policy outcomes in areas such as law, health, education, the environment, poverty, and urban development, using tools from a range of disciplines. Solutions to any important public policy problem require applying knowledge that evolves from all of the traditional disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach is a critical element of a liberal arts education.

Second, the Public Policy Minor offers relevant and unique core courses. The 2006 midterm elections were rife with examples of politicians losing their jobs due to ethical and communication failures. New this year and next, the Center will offer courses that focus on the role of communication and ethics in determining public policy outcomes. Additionally, the Center's signature course, Introduction to Public Policy Research, continues to place students at the center of public policy discussions by allowing them to interact directly with elected policy makers in New Hampshire and Vermont. Students last year testified on four occasions to legislative groups about the research they conducted in this course and the Center's Policy Research Shop. This research experience is a springboard for the students with aspirations to be involved in public policy after Dartmouth.

Third, because the Center administers the Public Policy Minor, enrolled students benefit from direct access to its many programs, including discussions with distinguished visitors through the Center's student organizations and priority status in the application process for internship funding, the Civic Skills Training program in Washington, DC, and the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program.

By the end of senior year, students will find that their training and education in the public policy minor and other Rockefeller Center opportunities make them strong contenders for a myriad of positions in the public, non-profit, or corporate sectors.

Andrew A. Samwick is the Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving '72a, P'10 Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2003 and 2004, he served as chief economist on the staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. 
Since joining the Dartmouth faculty in 1994, his scholarly work has covered a range of topics, including pensions, saving, taxation, portfolio choice, and executive compensation. Professor Samwick has been published in American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Finance, Journal of Public Economics, and a number of specialized journals and conference volumes. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics from Harvard College and received his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He blogs about economics, politics, and current events.

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