Pre-College Programs
Leadership Institute

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Public Policy: Leading and Creating Change

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Public policy is the set of laws, rules, and regulations enacted and enforced by government. Policy is made in response to a societal issue or problem that requires attention and is made on behalf of the public. Examples of public policy include: marijuana legislation, standardized testing in schools, environmental regulations, and immigration. Policy affects virtually every aspect of our daily lives yet the average citizen has limited understanding of how public policy is made or how to impact public policy.

This course will provide an overview of the public policy process and provide insight into how governments around the globe actually make these decisions. Does democracy work as described in textbooks or do pundits, lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats really make the decisions? Can individuals, community organizations, non-profits and NGOs make a difference? This class explores these questions by examining how policies are made in areas such as the environment, global conflict, international development, and health policies. Once students understand how governments make decisions, they then learn how to persuade governments to create new policies and how to rethink old ones. Students learn how to systematically think through unsolved problems such as how to respond to the Ebola epidemic or to climate change. Students also learn how to tell whether or not existing policies are actually working. For example, has gun regulation reduced crime? Has banning plastic bags in cities helped the environment?

Students end the term by creating an Action Plan that proposes a policy change in their own community to make the case for change with evidence and logic. The content and skills taught in this course provide a foundation for leadership and prepare students to be critical, informed, and skeptical consumers of information about public policy in the news, school, and in daily life. This course is ideal for students who may be interested in policy-making and governance, nonprofit leadership, international development, social entrepreneurship, strategic and management consulting, urban planning and economic development, public affairs and communications.