Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Students take a total of 13 courses (10 credits). Ten are required core courses (described below), and the remaining three are electives. See the program schedule page for full sequence.

Required Courses

Microeconomics for Public Policy

The primary purpose of the economics core course is to enable students to use economic thinking, concepts, and tools in their professional public policy work. By the end of the course, students should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to advanced level courses confident of their understanding of microeconomics.
Summer Sequence 1

Statistics for Public Policy

Covers social and economic statistics and their role in public policy research. Among the topics explored are descriptive and inferential statistics, measurement, sampling, and multivariate analysis.
Summer Sequence 1

Macroeconomics for Public Policy

This course provides an overview of macroeconomics for public policy. It builds on skills and concepts introduced in the statistics, microeconomics and program evaluation summer courses. We will introduce concepts around international trade, monetary and fiscal policies, business cycles as well as economic growth. Within the course, the segment on international trade will highlight the importance of the global economy. At the completion of this course students will be able to analyze and discuss how public policy interacts with the broader economy and how changes in the global economic conditions impact the economy as a whole. 
Summer Sequence 2

Statistics for Program Evaluation

This course is designed to equip graduate students with the knowledge and tools needed to become critical consumers of evaluation research and to conduct evaluations of various social programs and policies. Following an introduction to the field of program evaluation and analysis, the course will address specific topics including: logic models, process evaluations, quantitative tools for analysis, experimental and quasi-experimental designs for outcome evaluations, and alternative data sources. Class discussions and assignments will utilize evaluation examples from a variety of substantive policy areas.
Summer Sequence 2

Policy Analysis and Problem Solving

The critical issues facing public policymakers (and concerned citizens) inevitably involve political, economic, social, and moral choices. In this course those choices — and the core values of public service and good governance informing them — are confronted directly. In examining how public policies are made, the course draws on a number of frameworks and analytical tools that have been developed by scholars and practitioners to address a range of questions: Why do some problems get public attention and not others? Why are outcomes of policy implementation often so disappointing, so apparently different from the intentions of policymakers? What role is there for knowledge, evidence, and science in a highly politicized policymaking environment? And what opportunities exist for various actors to influence the direction and outcomes of policymaking?

The Politics of Policymaking in Comparative Perspective

This course provides a broad introduction to political forces which policymakers operate. Policymaking and politics are often held as separate spheres. There is a tendency to view politics as something to be recognized and controlled In reality, policymakers are often faced with unavoidable political issues. Issue areas that relate to the political context of policymaking include: Why do some countries have stable institutions while others are subject to frequent regime change? Why do some institutional arrangements facilitate compromise and negotiation, while others impose obstacles to effective governance? Why do some policies privilege certain groups and marginalize others? Is there such a thing as technocratic as opposed to political policymaking?

Management and Implementation in Public and Non-Profit Organizations

How can organizational actors become engines of policy and social change? Why do some policies get implemented while others fail to reach the intended beneficiaries or clients? What are the conditions under which policies produce expected changes? What works in public agencies and non-profit organizations? What are the opportunities and challenges in complex organizational and policy settings? In addressing these questions, students in this course will develop an understanding and the skills to identify, analyze, and manage core opportunities and challenges facing policy development, implementation, and sustainability in public and nonprofit organizations. This course builds on students’ understanding of the basic dynamics of the policymaking process. It complements courses that provide students with specific decision-making tools by providing applied frameworks for understanding the political and organizational contexts that bear on the structure and implications of those decisions. Throughout the course, we will consider actors’ individual and organizational motivations, their incentives to develop, use and/or ignore policy analysis and other evidence, the ability to manage participants inside and outside of their hierarchical jurisdiction, and the impact of human and fiscal resource management on policy implementation.
Spring Sequence 2

Policy Problems of the 21st Century 

This course will examine efforts to achieve social justice in contemporary political and social life. The class will examine three factors essential to understanding the challenge of working toward social justice. The first are the organizations through which campaigns for social justice operate. Many social justice campaigns operate through nonprofit organizations or rely on philanthropy for resources limits. The second module examines strategies that support efforts to achieve social justice. Direct participation in policymaking or implementation is a key strategy pursued by activists. The third module examines the process of framing and delivering messages. Policynarratives, new information, and novel frames can all alter public perceptions of issues and appropriate policies.
Spring Sequence 2

Systems Dynamics: Policy Analysis for a Complex World

Students will take a six-week module on system dynamics, a method for understanding, designing, and managing change. The module will use SD to model the relationship between elements in a governing system and to explore how these relationships influence the behavior of the system over time. Students will learn that many of the causes of public problems have their roots in well-intentioned policies that have unintended consequences, and/or ignore the implications of feedback, non-linear interactions, and delays. Students will learn how to frame problems, visualize the system, identify potential leverage points, develop skills for communicating system insights, analyze policies, and ultimately design more effective and sustainable solutions. Students will be exposed to case studies on successful SD applications in the policy setting, as well as to software tools for SD analysis.
Spring Sequence 2