Public Policy Minor

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The public policy minor provides students with a foundation in the field of public policy and allows them to make connections between public policy and other fields of study. The minor underscores the role of public policy on science and technology-based problems. Students obtain a deeper understanding of public policy and the policy making process, how policy analysis impacts policymaking, and how public policies operate within a number of specific science or technological domains. 

Notes about this minor:

  • The minor is closed to students majoring in public policy.
  • Posting of the minor on the student’s academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.


Required Courses
Choose five of the following:
   Foundations of Public Policy*
This interdisciplinary course introduces the student to the key concepts of public policy, the policymaking process, the role of stakeholders and interest groups, and the basic dimensions policy analysis. Those concepts are then applied through a range of issues, such as the environment, clean energy, climate change, healthcare, cybersecurity, employment, privacy, telecommunications, and innovation, at local, state, federal and international levels.
   Ethics, Values, and Public Policy*
This course focuses on the connections and interplay between personal and social values, ethics, and public policy. It explores how values and norms influence public policies and how the resulting expressions of values through public policies impact the implementation and effectiveness of policy choices. It also delves into how different countries make widely different policy choices based on their citizens’ values and social norms. The course also considers how new developments in science and technology influence the interplay between values, ethics, and policy across multiple issues. In addition, this course explores how to formulate values-based explanations of certain public policy preferences. Topics range across the policy issue spectrum.
   Introduction to Qualitative Methods
This course teaches the practical aspects of doing theoretically informed qualitative social research with policy applications. Special attention is given to the processes by which research problems are formulated, research designs selected, data gathered and interpreted, and inferences and conclusions drawn. A variety of tools, such as surveys, interviewing, and content analysis will be applied to specific case studies covering multiple policy issues.
   Public Policy Analysis
This course provides students with necessary tools to help them become effective policy analysts. The course places particular emphasis on understanding the policy process, the different approaches to policy analysis, and the application of quantitative methods, such as cost-benefit analysis, sampling designs, and decision trees. Students will apply these tools to contemporary public policy decision making at the local, state, federal, and international levels.
   Decision Analysis 
This course provides students with an introduction to decision science and analysis. The course focuses on several important tools for making good decisions, including forecasting, risk analysis, and multi-attribute decision making. Students will apply these tools to contemporary public policy decision making at the local, state, federal, and international levels.
   Special Topics in Public Policy
   Technology Innovation and Public Policy
Technological innovation, the incremental and revolutionary improvements in technology, has been a major driver in economic, social, military, and political change. This course will introduce generic models of innovation that span multiple sectors including: energy, environment, health, and bio- and information-technologies. The course also analyzes how governments choose policies, such as patents, to spur and shape innovation and its impacts on the economy and society. Students will be introduced to a global perspective on innovation policy including economic competitiveness, technology transfer and appropriate technology.
   Information and Communication Policy
This course examines how federal and international policies are developed to influence innovation in, and regulation of, information, computer, and telecommunications technologies. In particular the course will examine such topics as privacy, freedom of speech, cyber security, copyrights and intellectual property rights, access to information technology, and the regulation of the Internet.
   Energy Policy
This course provides an overview of energy resources, technologies, and policies designed to ensure clean, stable supplies of energy for the future. The course evaluates the impacts of fossil fuel, renewable energy, and hydrogen technologies on society and how public policies can be used to influence their development. The development of U.S. energy policy is of particular concern, although a global perspective will be integrated throughout the course.
   Science and Technology Policy*
Examines how local, state, federal and international policies are developed to influence innovation, the transfer of technology and industrial productivity in the United States and other selected nations.
   Biomedical Issues
A study of the impact of science and technology on life, our view of life and of the value issues that arise from this impact.
   Environmental Policy
This course introduces students to federal, state, and local environmental policies and the various policy paths leading to their establishment. Students will understand how societal values inform the content of environmental policies and the impacts, in turn, of these policies on society. In addition, the class will explore how environmental economics informs the new tools of environmental policy. The course covers a range of environmental policies at the U.S. and international levels addressing problems such as air and water pollution, climate change, energy use, and community sustainability.

* Students must select one of the three electives courses as their required course. The remaining courses may be taken as electives.

† Students must choose four elective courses to bring the total number of courses to five. Students may accomplish this by choosing electives from among the required courses and the elective courses. At least one of the elective courses must be at the 300 level or higher.