Public Policy and Political Economy

Changes effective Fall Term 2017

Faculty teaching Public Policy courses include members of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division in the College of Arts and Sciences. Please see the schedule of classes for each academic term for specific assignments.

The interdisciplinary program in Public Policy and Political Economy studies substantive and theoretical ways in which economics and political science combine to shape public policies in various countries.  Students in the major will become familiar with the theoretical approaches that political science and economics use to study and solve problems that can then be employed to frame and understand public policy issues.   Public policy issues will be addressed within an individual and social values context by considering questions such as what is of value to society and its citizens?  How best can those values be achieved?  What tradeoffs are required when pursuing those societal values?

The program has the following educational goals:

  • Often public problems exhibit recurring structures that inhibit their resolution through the political process.  Students will understand the conditions that encourage and discourage effective human social and political cooperation including theories of collective action and organizational behavior.
  • Students will acquire a framework for formulating and evaluating appropriate normative objectives, including liberty, social justice, social responsibility, efficiency, and other social values integrated in moral and political philosophies.
  • Students will learn the analytical tools used to evaluate public policies and programs in terms of their efficacy in achieving given social objectives.
  • Students will apply the principles and skills from the public policy major to research and propose practical solutions to decision-making problems in the real world.

Students majoring in Public Policy and Political Economy will acquire the analytical and practical skills that will prepare them for careers in business, law, Wall Street, or the public and/or private sector.  Typical avenues after graduation will be to earn a Masters degree in Public Policy, Urban or Regional Planning; earn a J.D. degree, or an MBA; or work in the public or private sector, and enter politics.  Students can also pursue graduate programs in economics or political science.


Twelve (12) total courses are required: five (5) foundation/core courses, one (1) methodological course, one (1) citizenship and responsibility courses, five (5) substantive policy courses, and one (1) senior year experience.


Analytical Foundation for Policy and Political Economy Requirement

Complete all five (5) of the following courses:

  • PPE 119 Contemporary Issues in Public Policy and Economics
  • POL 160 Introduction to American Politics OR POL 161 Issues in American Politics OR SOC 111 Social Problems
  • ECO 202 Economics in Historical Perspective
  • ECO 203 Principles of Micro- and Macroeconomics
  • POL 363 American Social Policy

Methodological Requirement

Complete one (1) of the following courses:

  • ECO 221 Statistics for Economics
  • POL 240 Public Policy Analysis

Citizenship and Responsibility

Complete one (1) of the following courses:

  • POL 227 Ethics and Public Policy
  • POL 316 Applied Political Ethics
  • POL 394 Theories of Justice
  • POL 395B Theories of Justice and Welfare


Students must complete four (4) electives. At least two electives must be from two different departments.

  • CMC 320 Political Economy of Body and Food
  • CMC 325 Incarceration and Inequality
  • ECO 239 Women and Work OR ECO 339 Women and Work
  • ECO 242 Economics, Media and Propaganda
  • ECO 256 Limits to Growth
  • ECO 304 Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • ECO 306 Monetary Economics
  • ECO 307 International Economics
  • ECO 308 European Emerging Markets
  • ECO/POL 313 Economic and Political Development in Eastern Central Europe
  • ECO 315 Radical Political Economics
  • ECO 321 Labor Economics
  • ECO 323 Political Economy of Chinese Development
  • ECO 325 Distribution of Income and Wealth
  • ECO 332 Industrial Organization
  • ECO 351 Economic Development
  • ECO 355 Environmental Economics
  • ECO 365 Economic Democracy and Economic Theory
  • ECO 370 Economics of Piracy
  • ECO 371 International Economic History
  • ECO 385 Health Economics
  • ENV 292 Political Economy of Environmental Issues
  • ENV 348 Sustainable Development
  • ENV 353 National Parks and Protected Areas
  • HIS 320 Mexico-U.S. Relations
  • POL 252 American Civil Rights Policy and Law
  • POL 302 Politics of Global Poverty
  • POL 325 Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia
  • POL 327 Urban Policy Analysis
  • POL 331 International Political Economy
  • POL 353 U.S. Foreign Policy
  • POL 361 Urban Politics
  • POL 368 Comparative Public Policy
  • POL 382 Constitutional Law
  • SOC 355 Race and Ethnic Relations
  • SOC 356 The State of Black America
  • SOC 360 Poverty and Social Welfare
  • SOC 367 Economy and Society


All students majoring in Public Policy and Political Economy are required to complete one senior year capstone course.  This requirement may be satisfied through an independent study, a capstone seminar (PPE 400), or an applied internship with a mandatory policy research component.  The purpose of the senior year experience is to enable students to integrate the concepts and principles from the major into a single project.

PPE 119 Contemporary Issues in Public Policy and Economics: Introduction to the intersection of economic and political ideas and processes as these relate to the creation and implementation of public policy. Possible public policy issues include public health policy, education standards, climate change and energy initiatives, immigration proposals, financial regulation and federal debt limits.  No prerequisites. Can be taken by 1st year students.