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

Public Policy Minor

PBPL 85 Confronts the Complexity of Peace Negotiations

The PBPL class started the day talking with Doug Mercado of the UN World Food Program (WFP). Mercado is currently based in Bogota, Colombia, and he works as the WFP’s Emergency Response Coordinator and coordinates the organizations food programs for Venezuelan migrants on the western border, but has worked on humanitarian aid before in Angola, Eritrea, and Bosnia among many others. The class had a lively discussion with Mercado on topics like how the new Duque administration is addressing the influx of migrants across the border, how the migrant crisis could affect the implementation of the peace agreement, and the possibilities for using food grown by ex-combatants to feed migrants. Mercado, who knows Spanish, Portuguese and some Serbo-Croatian along with English, emphasized to the class the amazing opportunities learning foreign languages has for opening up new environments and cultures and the many opportunities to work in humanitarian aid around the globe.


PBPL 85 Tours the Casa de Nariño

Our third day in Colombia was filled with informative meetings and exciting events. The morning started off leisurely as our first meeting was not until noon. Students used this time to explore the surrounding area and to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Early on the sun broke through the clouds and dispelled the fog that can settle on Bogotá and the surrounding hillsides. This mild weather was a treat after a large rainstorm the previous day.


PBPL 85 Meets with International Red Cross Officials

Wednesday in Colombia was incredibly busy, filled with protesting students, gold, and Nutella-strawberry pizza.


To start, the group traveled to the headquarters of the International Committee for the Red Cross.  We met with Christoph Harnisch, head of the Colombia delegation to the International Commission of the Red Cross.  He provided great insight on Red Cross operations in Colombia, issues of trust among the FARC, the state, and international actors, and what NGOs can do to aid the peace process.


PBPL 85 Travels to Bogota, Colombia

The Public Policy 85 group landed in Bogota around 6am this Tuesday. Not a group to be tired out easily, we went straight to the hotel spa to change into outfits more appropriate for the three meetings we had lined up in the afternoon. After a quick shower, we all enjoyed a delicious breakfast of hot coffee, omelets, and fresh fruit in the hotel courtyard. Breakfast left just enough time for a walk to the Plaza de Bolivar, a square surrounded by the Cathedral of Bogota, Lievano Palace, and the Palace of Justice.


But by 11:30am we were on our way to our first meeting with Angelika Rettberg Biel at the Universidad de los Andes. Professor Rettberg Biel has founded the Research Program on Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding and leads the Peacebuilding master’s program. She also served as a member of the Colombian government’s teach during negotiations with the ELN. We discussed the growing support for the rule of law in Colombia, newly formed police units dedicated to ensuring the safety of former guerillas as they demobilize, and the role of the Mexican cartel in the Colombian drug trade.


Experiential Learning: PBPL 85 Global Policy Leadership

Global citizenship and engagement are key. Understanding one’s place in the world and the complexities of international policy dilemmas truly allow for one to become a global citizen—an identity especially important in our modern world. Public Policy 85: Global Policy Leadership (PBPL 85) with Professor Charles Wheelan ’88 offers students a unique experimental learning opportunity that allows them to deconstruct cross-cultural barriers and become well versed in the intricacies of global policy through a combination of classroom instruction and international travel.

The course begins in the classroom during the fall term, when a select group of students study the history and context of a public policy challenge in a particular country or region. Students are introduced to the process of assessing problems and developing solutions to the challenge, practices important to cultivating civically engaged, global leaders.

Rocky and Me: Estephanie Aquino ’18 Senior Reflection

In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.

When I was deciding between colleges during the spring of my senior year of high school I remember checking out Dartmouth’s website and instantly being drawn to the Rockefeller Center after reading about students only two years older than me being actively involved in the policy-making process, conducting research, and meeting legislators. As a student who was exposed to the intricacies of environmental policy and regulation through my high school’s Energy and Utilities Academy, I knew that I needed to enroll at an institution that could cater to my curiosity and would allow me to be directly involved in the policy-making process.

Rocky and Me: Abhilasha Gokulan ’18 Senior Reflection

In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.

Rocky and Me: Jimmy Fair ’18 Senior Reflection

In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.

I grew up visiting Dartmouth every summer because my grandparents retired to Hanover 25 years ago. Dartmouth became my first choice by the beginning of high school, and I was surprised by how receptive professors were to my requests to sit in on classes and chat with them during a visit my junior year of high school. Coming from Colorado, I also wanted to go to college where I had immediate access to the outdoors. 

Rocky and Me: Julia Decerega ’18 Senior Reflection

In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.

When I walked into Rocky for the first time during one of the many orientation week open houses I attended, I did not imagine at the time the impact the physical building, and the people in it, would ultimately have on my college experience. I had heard about Rocky when I visited Dartmouth during Dimensions, I even took a pretty brochure home at the time. It was comforting to know that Dartmouth had a center dedicated to the study of public policy and to helping students apply their knowledge in the real world, which is what I was looking for in college. This made my decision to choose Dartmouth feel like the right one at the time. 

PBPL 85 Drafts Policy Memo During their Final Few Days in Liberia

After looking forward to our Liberia trip for nearly six months, I can’t believe that it is almost over! Oh, how I will miss my fresh* papaya and pancakes in the morning! Oh, how I will miss our giant van and our lovely drivers, Bedna, James, and Jimmy! Oh, how I will miss the cultural landmark that is Monroe Chicken… actually, I probably won’t miss Monroe Chicken that much. 

In our last few days in Liberia, we are all working hard to complete our memo, especially since we all seemed to procrastinate writing our citations until the very end. Last night (technically early this morning), our diligent editors woke up at 4am to edit our first complete draft, while the rest of the team tried to get some sleep. This afternoon, we took a quick memo break to explore a street fair hosted by the U.S. Embassy, and to grab some lunch at a local Lebanese restaurant. On our excursion, we discovered that Professor Wheelan is not very good at bargaining with street vendors. Since there is little tourism in Monrovia, we were relieved to finally secure a few souvenirs before our trip home tomorrow.


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