Watson Institute at Brown University
Public Policy

PLCY Core Classes

The core requirements provide concentrators with the foundation for understanding and conducting policy analysis.

Intro to Public Policy

PLCY 0100 Introduction to Public Policy (Prereq for PLCY 1400 Ethics and Public Policy)

An overview of policymaking and policy analysis in the contemporary United States. The course begins with an examination of traditional justifications for government action. We will then examine the discipline of policy analysis that has arisen to design and evaluate public policies. We will also consider critiques of the rational method and ask questions about how policy expertise fits into the political system. The course ends with classic works on organizations and implementation. Fall


PLCY 1400 Ethics and Public Policy

What are the moral foundations of public policy analysis? How should individuals act when faced with ethical dilemmas in public life? This course will engage those questions in depth, beginning with case studies in ethics and policy and moving to cases involving ethical quandaries and moral dilemmas in public life. Fall

Economics for Public Policy (Choose One)

PLCY 1600 Economics for Public Policy

This course examines the role of the public sector in the economy. We begin by exploring when and how the government intervenes in the economy. We also consider the impact of government intervention. We then use this theoretical foundation to examine current issues in expenditure, education, health, retirement, business competition, environment, cybersecurity, crime, financial, and tax policy. The student will acquire analytical skills to better evaluate existing and alternative public policy alternatives. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used throughout the course. Fall

ECON 1110 Intermediate Microeconomics

(Prereqs MATH 0060, 0070, 0090, 0100, 0170, 0180, 0190, 0200, or 0350; and ECON 0110)
Tools for use in microeconomic analysis, with some public policy applications. Theory of consumer demand, theories of the firm, market behavior, welfare economics, and general equilibrium. Fall/Spring

ECON 1130 Intermediate Microeconomics-Mathematical

(Prereqs MATH 0100, 0170, 0180, 0190, 0200, or 0350; and ECON 0110)
Microeconomic theory: Theories of the consumer and firm, competitive equilibrium, factor markets, imperfect competition, game theory, welfare economics, general equilibrium. Fall/Spring

EDUC 1130 Economics of Education I

How do we attract good teachers to public schools? What are the economic returns to early-childhood intervention programs? These are just two examples of important education policy questions. This course introduces key concepts of microeconomic theory and uses them to analyze these and other policy questions. Organized around a structured sequence of readings. First-year students require instructor permission. Spring

Statistics for Public Policy

EDUC 1110 Intro Statistics for Education Research and Policy Analysis

This course provides an introduction to applied statistics for conducting quantitative research in the social sciences, with a focus on education policy. Students will become acquainted with the fundamentals of probability, descriptive and summary statistics, tabular and graphical methods for displaying data, statistical inference, analytic methods for exploring relationships with both categorical and continuous measures, and multivariate regression. Concepts and methods are taught using real-world examples with multiple opportunities for students to apply these methods in practice. The course uses the statistical software program, STATA. Spring

POLS 1600 Political Research Methods

Introduction to quantitative research methods in political science. Topics include research design, descriptive statistics, statistical hypothesis testing, and bivariate and multivariate regression. By the end of the course, students will have the requisite skills to intelligently consume and produce basic quantitative social science research. Spring

SOC 1100 Introduction to Statistics for Social Research

Introduction to descriptive and inferential statistics: measures of central tendencies and variability, sampling, tests of significance, correlation, and regression. Also includes the use of computers in data analysis. Knowledge of elementary algebra is assumed. Fall/Spring

ECON 1630 Econometrics I

Advanced introduction to econometrics with applications in finance and economics. How to formulate and test economic questions of interest. The multivariate linear regression model is treated in detail, including tests of the model's underlying assumptions. Other topics include asymptotic analysis, instrumental variable estimation, and likelihood analysis. Convergence concepts and matrix algebra are used extensively. Fall/Spring

Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation

PLCY 1200 Program Evaluation

Students in this course will become familiar with the concepts, methods, and applications of evaluation. We will build intuition around the experimental and quasi-experimental method commonly used in practice so that students learn how to interpret evaluation results, read evaluation research critically, and understand the pros/cons of each method. We will draw on illustrations and case studies from a variety of substantive policy areas Prerequisite: PLCY 0100, and POLS 1600 or EDUC 1110 or SOC 1100 or ECON 1620, or written permission of instructor. Spring