Like the Institute, the concentration 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 academic and professional disciplines, and offers its 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 who acquire these skills will be well prepared to find meaningful work in government, the consulting industry, and the non-profit sector. They should also be good candidates for any number of advanced professional and academic programs, including the Watson Institute’s own Masters of Public Affairs.