Public Policy Seminar Courses

The examples below are illustrative: a range of other courses and tracks of study have been pursued by students, and will be considered for potentially fulfilling the Minor's requirements.

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 82.01: 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 82.02/SOCY 053: Power, Politics and the State

Is America in crisis? The nation is more deeply divided politically, economically, and ideologically than it has been for generations. Washington is in gridlock. Inequality and poverty have been rising. People have become polarized over racial, religious and social issues. Some say the politics of identity and self-interest have been unleashed at the expense of the nation's general welfare. Some disagree. This course explores these issues. It examines how political, economic and ideological power has been mobilized recently in the United States and with what consequences, including the conservative shift in American politics, the 2008 financial crisis, the election of Donald Trump, and possibly the decline of the United States as the world's superpower. The course draws on scholarly work in sociology, political science and economics. Dist: SOC; WCult:

PBPL 82.09: The Supreme Court, Public Policy, and the Ethics of Legal Argument & Decision-making

Can the states ban abortion? Can the EPA regulate for climate change? Can government mandate vaccines during a pandemic? Public policy is set in meaningful ways by the United States Supreme Court. This course introduces students to basics of constitutional law and analysis, sets a foundation for understanding legal arguments as they get presented to the Court, and raises the often thorny interplay between law, social norms, personal ethics, judicial philosophy, and public policy. Dist: TMV

PBPL 82.10/GOVT 86.54: Congressional Investigations, Law, and Democratic Governance

The course introduces students to the purpose and practice of congressional investigations. Issues covered will include: the role of congressional oversight in our democratic system of governance; the reach and limits of Congress's constitutional authority to investigate; tools and tactics in congressional investigations; and how citizens and elected officials can best address current challenges to conducting effective congressional inquiries. Class discussion will frame these issues by focusing on the House Select Committee investigation of the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol and other high-profile congressional inquiries, featuring video excerpts and personal perspectives from individuals involved with these efforts. The course emphasizes in-class exercises in which students tackle various oversight challenges in the role of congressional investigators, and ultimately students will stage a mock investigative hearing.  Dist: Soc; W Cult.

PBPL 83.01/GOVT 83.28 Persuasion & Policy Process

This class examines how people form policy preferences and the process by which those preferences do—or do not—get translated into public policies in the United States. The course examines three aspects of this process: elite rhetorical strategy, the media routines that generate coverage of policy debates, and mass opinion. We will assess the way political elites, the media, and ordinary people interact to create policies that can be either intelligent or pathological. GOVT 3 is a prerequisite for this class.

PBPL 83.02/ GOVT 83.27: Public Policy and Politics

This course explores political factors that influence the development of public policies as well as possible attitudinal and behavioral policy feedback effects on the population after their implementation. Public opinion will be central to the course with students encouraged to analyze survey data and polls. In most years, the class will have a topical issue focus (e.g., health care, climate change, retirement, immigration) depending upon world events and trends. Prerequisite: GOVT 10 or equivalent. WCult: W.

PBPL 84.02/ECON 41: Health Economics and Policy

The goals of the course are: 1) to understand the economic forces that have created the current challenges in US healthcare; 2) to develop skills that enable you to determine what types of information, data, and analyses are needed to analyze the economics of health policies designed to expand coverage, improve quality, and contain costs; and 3) through in-class exercises and a project, to perform and present economic analysis of current topics relevant for state and federal health system reform. Prerequisites: Economics 1 and 10 Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 84.04/GOVT 83.24: Inequality and American Democracy

Inequality – economic, political, and social – is among the most pressing and contentious issues of our time. What forms of inequality should we care about? How much is too much, or too little? What are inequality's causes and consequences, which dimensions should be addressed, and how? We examine inequalities of income and wealth, political representation, education, incarceration, health, race, gender, and the future of work, ranging from philosophical and historical foundations to contemporary politics and policy.

PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership

Public Policy 85 is designed to provide real world international policy experience for a select group of students engaged with the Rockefeller Center. Twelve rising juniors and seniors will be selected to study a specific international policy topic. During the fall quarter, 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 the Professor will travel to the country of study, 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 30-40 page briefing memo with specific policy recommendations. The criteria for selecting students for 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; a personality suited for rigorous, low-budget international travel; and preference is given to rising seniors who are public policy minors.


PBPL 87/ GOVT 84.43: Punishment, Inequality, and Political Economy

Utilizing a political economy framework, we will explore how and why countries develop and maintain diverse criminal justice systems. Emphasizing cross-national comparison, we will investigate how citizen demands and policy responses depend on existing institutional conditions and impact areas from welfare and employment policy to economic equality and racial justice. By the end of this course, students will be thinking as researchers to evaluate how punishment functions as a deployment of state power. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

PBPL 89/ GOVT 83.31/ QSS 30.24: Advanced Policy Research

Lawmakers often craft public policies to address perceived problems. Determining whether policies or other types of social inventions truly work (i.e., cause the intended effects) entails program evaluation and related forms of policy analysis. This applied research seminar focuses on designing and conducting empirical programmatic evaluations with an emphasis on research design principles that make documenting cause and effect relationships more successful. Dist: QDS; WCult: W.

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.