Brown University
Public Policy

Policy Designated Electives - Fall 2017

To complete a concentration in public policy, 2 electives must be policy-designated, meaning courses within the public policy department or from the following list of approved classes. All three broad electives must be in different subject areas.


AFRI 1060X - African Development [international]

  • Instructor: Patricia Agupusi

  • TTh 6:40-8:00pm

  • This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to introduce contemporary development issues in Africa. Drawing on literature from political sciences, economics, sociology and history, it explores the challenges of development in the continent since independence, as well as investigates the influences of governance, institutions, conflicts and external forces in Africa’s development trajectories. This is an applied course that would utilize both theoretical and policy analytical approaches to examine the political and socioeconomic dynamism in contemporary Africa.


ECON 1375 - Inequality of Opportunity in the US

  • Instructor: Nathaniel Hilger

  • W 3:00-5:30pm

  • This course examines empirical evidence on inequality of opportunity in the US. We cover recent work in economics that measures the importance of parents, schools, health care, neighborhoods, income, and race in determining children's long-term labor market success, and implications of these findings for US public policy. Limited to students in their 7th or 8th semester, with prerequisites ECON 1110/1130 and ECON 1620/1629/1630.


ECON 1500 - Current Global Macroeconomic Challenges [international]

  • Instructor: David Wyss

  • TTh 9:00-10:20am

  • Analysis of current economic challenges in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China. Topics include fiscal and monetary policies, international trade, capital flows and exchange rate policy, and policies for long-run growth. Emphasis on macroeconomic policies in the individual nations and their interaction with each other. Prerequisite ECON 1210.


ECON 1510 - Economic Development

  • Instructor: Louis Putterman

  • TTh 2:30-3:50pm

  • This course is an introduction to development economics and related policy questions. It discusses the measurement of poverty and inequality; growth; population change; health and education; resource allocation and gender; land and agriculture; and credit, insurance, and savings. The course provides a theoretical framework for the economic analysis of specific problems associated with developing economies, and introduces empirical methods used to evaluate policies aimed at solving these problems. Prerequisites ECON 1110/1130 and ECON 1629/1630/1620.


ECON 1540 - International Trade

  • Instructor: Joaquin Blaum

  • TTh 2:30-3:50pm

  • This class addresses the theory of comparative advantage, trade, and income distribution. This includes welfare analysis of trade: gains from trade, evaluation of the effects of trade policy instruments-tariffs, quotas, and subsidies. Trade under imperfect competition. Includes strategic trade policy, trade, labor markets, preferential trade agreements, and the world trading systems. Prerequisites ECON 1110/1130.


EDUC 1060 - Politics and Public Education

  • Instructor: Crystal Thomas

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • Who exercises power in public education? This course examines the key institutions (e.g. school districts, states, Congress, and the courts) and actors (e.g. parents, teachers, interest groups, and the general public) shaping American K-12 education in order to understand recent policy trends and their consequences for students. Major policies discussed include school finance, textbook adoption, school accountability, and school choice. Particular attention is given to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and debates over its reauthorization.


EDUC 1150 - Education, the Economy, and School Reform

  • Instructor: John Tyler

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • This seminar examines the linkages between educational achievement and economic outcomes for individuals and nations. We study a range of system, organizational, and personnel reforms in education by reviewing the empirical evidence and debating which reforms hold promise for improving public education and closing persistent achievement gaps. Understanding and critiquing the experimental, quasi-experimental and descriptive research methods used in the empirical literature will play a central role in the course. Prerequisites for Education and Public Policy concentrators are EDUC 1130 and EDUC 1110 (or equivalent);  for Economics concentrators, ECON 1110 or ECON 1130, and ECON 1620. Enrollment limited to 20.


EDUC 1650 - Policy Implementation in Education

  • Instructor: Jonathan Collins

  • MWF 10:00-10:50am

  • This course offers an "analytical foundation" for students interested in public policy implementation, with particular emphasis on education. Drawing on social science research, the course examines strengths and limitations of several frameworks, including the "policy typology" school of thought, the rational actor paradigm, the institutional analysis, the bargain model, the organizational-bureaucratic model, and the "consumer choice" perspective.


ENVS 1575 - Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks [international]

  • Instructor: J Timmons Roberts

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • Twelve undergraduate students will study a group of core readings, conduct independent and group projects, and attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) and related climate change events in Bonn, Germany in November 2017. Students will critically analyze contemporary political events; develop and addresses pertinent research questions; engage with and interview experts in the field; craft policy-relevant and empirically grounded publications; and develop experience in using social media. Team-based research may be shared at the climate negotiations in Bonn. 


ENVS 1615 - Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process

  • Instructor: Amanda Lynch

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • Even as we understand better the intrinsic interdependencies between humans and the environment, policy gridlock persists. The purpose of this course is to learn how to apply knowledge to map the relevant policy context in environmental issues, and to develop the tools and approaches to address any problem of decision in the environmental arena more creatively, effectively, and responsibly. Enrollment limited to 20.


HIST 1972H - US Human Rights in a Global Age

  • Instructor: Michael Vorenberg

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • Examines how the U.S. has shaped or been shaped by global human rights struggles. Topics include: indigenous rights in the U.S. Early Republic; Antislavery in the early Atlantic World; anti-imperialism in U.S. wars with Mexico and Spain; U.S. and human rights conventions; the Cold War and Civil Rights; and recent U.S. policies concerning human migration.


HMAN 1972Y - Indigenous Peoples and American Law

  • Instructor: Nathaniel Berman

  • T 4:00-6:30pm

  • The European colonial empires and their successor states in the Americas all developed bodies of law concerned with the indigenous peoples who preceded them. In the United States, this body of law is generally still known as “American Indian Law” or, more recently, “Federal Indian Law.” It emerged out of colonial-era juristic thinking and was adapted and transformed after the U.S. gained independence from Britain. This seminar will study both the history and structure of this body of law. It will also seek to uncover the ways the technical legal materials embody deep-rooted cultural presuppositions about indigenous peoples.


INTL 1700 - International Law

  • Instructor: TBA

  • TTh 9:00-10:20am

  • This introduction to public international law covers the nature of legal reasoning in international relations, the interplay of international law and international politics, and the international legal process. Examines selected substantive fields such as state responsibility, the use of force, international human rights, and the U.S. and international law.


INTL 1803 - Risk, Regulation and the Comparative Politics of Finance

  • Instructor: J. Nicholas Ziegler

  • W 3:00-5:30pm

  • The course introduces students to the comparative history of finance as well as to alternative theories of regulation. It thereby develops students’ ability to compare the role played by financial institutions in different historical periods and national contexts. This comparative perspective puts the recent financial crisis into a broader perspective, allowing students to see the structural as well as more proximate causes of recent financial instability in the industrialized democracies. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. Priority given to IR, DS, and Public Policy seniors


PLCY 1700Q - Urban Policy Challenges: Spatial Inequality in Metropolitan America

  • Instructor: Anthony Pratcher

  • Th 4:00-6:30pm

  • Students will read, analyze, and discuss seminal texts within American urban history to examine the historic relationship between social policy and spatial inequality in 20th-century American metropolitan development. Students will have a passing familiarity with how the conflation of federal policies, regional economies, and local politics has constructed metropolitan landscapes with inequitable distributions of both public and private resources.


PLCY 1800 - Investigating Modes of Social Change

  • Instructor: Martha Rosenberg

  • T 4:00-6:30pm

  • This course examines the range of approaches to making social change through democratic institutions and processes in the U.S. These approaches-- direct service, community organizing, policy/politics, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and research/scholarship-- have different value systems, methodologies, strengths and limitations. There’s no one “right” approach, and the modes often intersect in ways that can be mutually reinforcing or counterproductive.


PLCY 1802 - Engaged Research Engaged Publics

  • Instructor: Anthony Levitas

  • Th 5:30-8:00pm

  • Policy problems are complex. Policy analysis and design is both a science and a craft. Increasingly, policymakers have begun to acknowledge that effective policy research requires not only multiple methods of inquiry, but also interdisciplinary teams of social science researchers, citizens, designers, scientists, artists, consultants, and engineers, among other experts. Generating innovative policy solutions, from this approach, is not a straightforward, linear process, but instead a creative, collaborative, and engaged activity that requires not only iterative and dynamic research methods, but also storytelling, design, and other creative methods.


PLCY 1910 - Social Entrepreneurship

  • Instructor: Alan Harlam

  • TTh 10:30-11:50am

  • This course introduces students to social innovation and social entrepreneurship and engages them in identifying significant issues, problems, tools, strategies and models that drive bold solutions to complex contemporary problems.


POLS 1325 - Political Organizations and Social Change in America

  • Instructor: Margaret Weir

  • MWF 10:00-10:50am

  • This class examines efforts to create significant policy change in contemporary political and social life in the United States. We examine strategies of social change; explore the characteristics of advocacy organizations; and consider how organizations can expand their political toolkits as they seek to create social change. In addition, we will examine the relationship between organizations, members, and activists. Among the cases examined are the Civil Rights Movement, the Tea Party, Alinsky organizations, Black Lives Matter, the Koch Brothers Network, Dreamers, and organized labor.


POLS 1360 - US Gender Politics

  • Instructor: Katherine Tate

  • MWF 9:00-9:50am

  • This course covers the politics of U.S. women as activists, voters, candidates, and elected officials. What explains the emergence of the modern-day women’s movement? How do women win political seats? Do women legislate differently than men? How did women become legislative and party leaders? How does sexuality and gender affect U.S. electoral politics? This course will also consider the ways in which social class, race-ethnicity, marital status, parenthood, feminism, religiosity, political orientation, and cultural beliefs or stereotypes influence women’s public policy and social beliefs. To what extent does gender define all women’s political and social viewpoints?


POLS 1560 - American Foreign Policy

  • Instructor: Rose McDermott

  • TTh 2:30-3:50pm

  • This course provides an overview of American Foreign Policy since World War I. The emphasis will be on defense and security policy, and not on foreign economic policy. This course covers significant historical events and personalities over the course of the twentieth century. When events dictate, part of any given daily class may be devoted to current events in American Foreign Policy, with emphasis on their historical source and context. Prerequisite is POLS 0400.


POLS 1820T - Race, Crime, and Public Policy

  • Instructor: Brandon Davis

  • F 3:00-5:30pm

  • This course will provide students with an in-depth analysis of the social and political connections between criminal justice policies and race. The first section of the course will cover the concepts of race and ethnicity and the social construction of target populations. Secondly, students will learn what public policy is, how it is made, and methods of analysis. Next, we will cover the history of the criminal justice system and the creation of mass incarceration. Lastly, we will cover specific criminal justice policies and practices and their ramifications for the civil liberties and rights of racial minorities.


POLS 1822C - Congress

  • Instructor: Richard Arenberg

  • W 3:00-5:30pm

  • Takes a comprehensive view of the U.S. Congress, its structure, procedures, elections, parties, constituencies and its interactions with the president and the courts. The Constitution establishes the Congress as the first branch and guardian of the nation's purse strings. This course will examine the strengths and vulnerabilities of the modern Congress with its highly polarized political parties. Requires extensive reading, a detailed paper and active class participation. Students are expected to pay careful attention to current events in the U.S Congress.


POLS 1822Z - Social Attitudes and their Impact on US Politics

  • Instructor: Katherine Tate

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • The course first documents trends and sources of change in social attitudes. It then evaluates the debate between psychological, sociological and political explanations for opposition to social rights policies. The course then transitions from the policy realm to the impact of ethnic and gender attitudes on electoral politics. In this half of the class, students study how social attitudes have influenced present-day partisan and presidential politics, how parties and politicians use gender and ethnic appeals for electoral gain, how these attitudes affected presidential candidates in a post-social rights United States. Enrollment limited to 20 students in their fifth semester or above.


URBN 1870M - Urban Regimes in the American Republic

  • Instructor: Marion Orr

  • M 3:00-5:30pm

  • A probing of topical issues in both their theoretical antecedents and their contemporary manifestations. Examines the intellectual debates and the scholarly treatments surrounding issues of power in the city, urban redevelopment policy, urban poverty, urban educational policy, and race in the city. Enrollment limited to 20.