Housed in the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the concentration in public policy is organized around the interdisciplinary and comparative study of human societies, but with a particular focus on the rules and norms by which we govern ourselves. The concentration is grounded in the analysis of pressing social problems and the design, implementation, and evaluation of better policies and practices. This commitment to using knowledge to improve the life chances of people who occupy different positions of wealth and power, and who have competing and contentious ideas of about the common good, makes public policy a value-laden and political enterprise that is as much an art as it is a science. It is also a team sport that requires players with different skills and talents to work together across a wide variety of settings.
Students will learn how social, economic, and political issues become the object of public policy, how policy decisions are crafted, made and implemented, as well as different strategies for evaluating their impact. The concentration draws its instructors from a wide variety of disciplines and offers students opportunities for engaged scholarship at the local, national, and global levels. With the support of the advisory team, students develop their own curriculum of study, integrating core courses with electives, internships, independent research, and a capstone experience.
Students in this concentration will:
Students seeking a capstone experience in Public Policy should apply to write a Senior Thesis in the spring term of their junior year. Concentrators who meet qualifying criteria and have outstanding academic records in public policy course work will be considered for approval to write a Senior Thesis. Once approved, they must enroll in the two-semester Public Policy Colloquium and prepare theses that examine some aspect of public policy, including but not limited to a program evaluation, a feasibility study, or examination of an institution that affects policy. Candidates who write senior theses of distinguished quality are recommended for “Honors,” which is conferred by the department at the time of graduation from Brown. Please visit our website for more information.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:
Public Policy alumni have pursued careers in health policy, education (including Teach for America), banking, law, and are now employed for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and State.