Policy Methods Courses

Select two courses like those from the following list for partial satisfaction of the Public Policy Minor.  The examples below are illustrative, and other courses offered in the PBPL40s sequence may also count toward the methods requirement.

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.

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 40 Syllabus

PBPL 40.01/ QSS 20: Modern Statistical Computing

This course is meant to build upon your introductory programming course and to equip you with the computing literacy to conduct social science research in the age of "big data." This has two core components. First is learning the background tools (e.g., Github; Latex; working on the command line) to conduct transparent and reproducible research. Second is learning programming skills essential for social science in the big data era, with a focus on using Python for various applied tasks as well as R for tasks like data visualization and SQL for tasks like working with the relational databases that form the backbone of many real-world government and commercial datasets.

PBPL 40.03/ WGSS 66.33 : Gender and Policy Leadership

This course uses case studies to provide a window into the decision-making processes leaders face when balancing their policy goals against the constraints imposed by the processes and institutions which frequently determine policy outcomes. Policy areas discussed include sexual harassment, healthcare access, and international sex work. By the end of the term, students will have drafted their own case study related to gender and policy leadership on a policy issue or policymaker of their choosing. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 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 60.04: 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 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.

PBPL 44/GOVT 37/QSS30.20: Election Polling

The results of opinion polls often dominate election and campaign coverage and alter the behavior of politicians in modern democracies. Although surveys are more common than in the past, they vary considerably in terms of quality. To better understand the potential sources of error, this course introduces students to survey research methods with an emphasis on the election polling techniques used by social scientists to study political attitudes and policy preferences. A primary goal of the course is to help students understand fundamental concepts like sampling or responses rates as well as best practices for designing questionnaires and response options. The class will also cover advanced topics such as survey experiments, nonprobability panels, statistical power, and post-stratification weighting among others. During the course, students will explore and analyze public opinion patterns in survey data archives before ultimately writing and programming an original election-related study. Learning survey methodology should be particularly useful for anyone who plans to (A) take more advanced quantitative methodology courses, (B) write an honors thesis, (C) serve as a research assistant, (D) attend graduate school, or (E) work in professional areas that make use of opinion data, including campaigns and elections, consulting, law, journalism, education, business, health care, policy evaluation, or government. 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.

PBPL 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/PSYC 54.08: Leadership

What makes a great leader?  Why would others follow you?  A century of psychological research clarifies the traits, skills, and behaviors of effective leaders, including how they attract, influence, develop and empower followers to excel in different situations.  Readings will explain the psychological science; classroom demonstrations, guest leader interviews, case study discussions and small group challenges will illuminate it.  Outside the classroom, weekly leadership practice assignments will reinforce core concepts, increase self-awareness, and develop leadership capabilities, all in support of a community impact initiative that each student will select, plan and lead (courage required).  Your instructor will apply three decades of experience in developing thousands of leaders at all levels on multiple continents, to guide and challenge you to develop your science-based leadership potential.

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.

PPBL 82.08: Special Topics in Public Policy: Field Research Methods

This course prepares Dartmouth students to undertake field research to answer a substantive policy question. Skills covered will include survey design, data analysis, stakeholder interviews, participant observation, literature review, and community-engaged research methods. This course is designed to prepare students to conduct independent field research in domestic or international settings. As part of the course, students will participate in the design of a field research project in rural Northern New England.

This course can be used in place of PBPL 45 as a way into the Policy Research Shop.