Public Policy

Faculty Chairs: Jennifer Hochschild & Josh Kertzer

Overview:  Public policy is a vibrant interdisciplinary field in which political science plays a central role.  Political science research on policy addresses both normative and empirical questions: What kind of policies should be adopted to achieve our goals and to express our values?  How and why do policy makers decide which goals to pursue? Why do policies vary so widely?  Under what conditions do they work well? Many faculty in the Government Department do research on policy questions and teach courses that address a wide range of policy arenas.  

Studying the politics of public policy can help students become more effective policy makers. The Government Department’s new public policy program is designed to help students with policy interests tailor their concentration to gain a good foundation in political science while also developing expertise in a specific policy arena.  It provides training useful for careers in government, international organizations, non-profits, and think tanks. 

Requirements: Four courses out of the ten courses required for the concentration:

  • 1 course on ethics and public policy chosen from the list below.
  • 3 courses on politics and analysis related to a specific policy arena chosen from the list below. To take advantage of the diversity within political science, we encourage students to enroll in courses that take different analytical approaches to the topic—from different subfields, or that take different theoretical approaches.  Since many of our students take policy courses at the Kennedy School for concentration credit, we will also incorporate some of these pre-approved courses into the program. 

All four courses must be taken for a letter grade (except for courses taken during Spring 2020, when emergency satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading was in effect).

Individual Plan of Study: Students are asked to write an individual plan of study in consultation with their Concentration Advisers and faculty mentors. In this plan, students identify the policy focus they want to pursue, their educational goals, and the courses that will help them develop this expertise. In addition to courses in the Government Department, we also encourage them to take related courses in other fields, whether through a secondary concentration or through some of their elective courses.

Possible Areas of Focus: (Students can propose additional topics)

  • Social Policy: Education, Welfare, Immigration, Health Care, Criminal Justice

  • Economic Policy: Development, Globalization, Environment

  • Foreign Policy: Security, Trade, Finance, Human Rights

Public Policy Courses 2022-23

Gov Ethics & Public Policy Courses:

GenEd 1181: Meritocracy and its Critics. Michael Sandel

Gov 1041: Justice by Means of Democracy. Danielle Allen

Gov 94em: Crime, Responsibility, and the Law. Gabriel Katsh

Gov 94gk: The Politics and Ethics of Health Care. Gabriel Katsh


Gov Courses on the Politics of Policy Making & Policy Analysis:

Gen Ed 1052: Race in a Polarized America. Jennifer Hochschild

Gov 1114: Law and Inequality. Alisha Holland.

Gov 1722 Politics of the Environment and Climate Change. Dustin Tingley 

Gov 1735: Controlling the World’s Most Dangerous Weapons. Matthew Bunn

Gov 1737 Evaluating the Impacts of Public Policies: How to Design and Implement Randomized Controlled Trials. Michael Hiscox

Gov 1740: International Law. Christoph Mikulaschek

Gov 1759: Behavioral Insights and Public Policy: Nudging for Good. Michael Hiscox

Gov 1780: International Political Economy. William Clark

Gov 1790: American Foreign Policy. Joshua Kertzer

Gov 1796: American National Security. Graham Allison

Gov 94bk: Democratic Citizenship and Education. Katherine Bickmore.

Gov 93cj: Public Policy Practicum. Jennifer Halen.

Gov 94bf: #AbolishPolice: The Politics of Public Safety in the Age of Social Media. Jennifer Halen

Gov 94hj: Technically Justice? The Politics of Technology and Criminal Justice Reform. Jennifer Halen

Gov 94ka: New Insights into North Korea. John Park

Gov 94na Japan and Globalization. Nicholas Fraser

Gov 94oa: Inequality and American Democracy. Theda Skocpol

Gov 94pf: The Great Food Transformation. Sparsha Saha

Gov 94wt: The Politics of Urban Inequality in the United States. Shanna Weitz


Harvard Kennedy School Policy Courses:

BGP 100: Business-Government Relations. Roger Porter

DPI 122: Politics and American Public Policy. David King

DPI 391: Race, Inequality and American Democracy. Khalil Muhammad

DPI-415 Comparative Politics and Policy. Pippa Norris

IGA 103: Global Governance. Kathryn Sikkink

DEV 308: Social Institutions and Economic Development. Michael Woolcock


Gov Courses Offered Previously:

Gov Ethics & Public Policy Courses:

Gen Ed 1058 Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech and the Future of Human Nature, Michael Sandel 

Gen Ed Ethical Reasoning 39 Money, Markets, and Morals, Michael Sandel

Gov 1033 Educational Justice, Meira Levinson

Gov 1734 Ethics & War, Stephen Rosen

Gov 94bh Ethics & Public Policy, Eric Beerbohm

Gov 94ca Casino Capitalism: Gambling, Finance, and the Ethic of Speculation, Michael Sandel

Gov 94km Moral Life During War


Gov Courses on the Politics of Policy Making:

Gov 1108 The Politics of Economic Inequality, Thomas Remington

Gov 1142 Principles of Public Policy, Mireille Paquet

Gov 1152 Europe and the Developing World. Catherine Gegout.

Gov 1203 Capitalism and Democracy in East Central Europe, Grzegorz Ekiert

Gov 1247 Geopolitics of Energy

Gov 1263 Improving Governance in Developing Countries, Horacio Larreguy

Gov 1279 The Political Economy of Northeast Asia, Yuhua Wang

Gov 1288 China’s Economic Development, Nara Dillon

Gov 1368 The Politics of American Education, Paul Peterson

Gov 1739 War and Politics, Stephen Rosen

Gov 1760 International Relations of East Asia, Iain Johnston

Gov 1982 Chinese Foreign Policy, Alastair Iain Johnston

Gov 1780 International Political Economy, Jeffry Frieden

Gov 93c: Public Policy Practicum. Alexander Gard-Murray and Jenn Halen

Gov 94ach The Politics of Inequality in Latin America, Alisha Holland

Gov 94au Political Economy, Torben Iversen

Gov 94cb The Politics of Naturalization and Citizenship, Colin Brown

Gov 94ch: The Politics of Human Rights. Stephen Chaudoin

Gov 94cp Political Economy of the Environment, Alexander Gard-Murray

Gov 94gm. The Politics of Climate Change, Alexander Gard-Murray

Gov 94hg The Political Economy of Inequality in Latin America, Fran Hagopian

Gov 94ip Identity, Politics & Policy, Ana Weeks

Gov 94jf The Political Economy of Economic Growth, Jeffry Frieden

Gov 94kr Immigration & Citizenship. Riva Kastoryano

Gov 94lf Philanthropy, Nonprofits, and the Politics of American Education. Leslie Finger

Gov 94nd: Global Cities in East Asia. Nara Dillon

Gov 94pi Political Economy of Development in Africa, Pia Raffler

Gov 94q US-Latin American Relations, Jorge Dominguez

Gov 94rg A Revolt Against Globalization? Peter Hall

Gov 94si Grand Strategy in IR and US Foreign Policy, Sergio Imparato

Gov 94sp: Future of War. Stephen Rosen

Gov 94ym The Politics of Climate Change, Yascha Mounck

Gov 2047: The Political Economy of the School. Paul Peterson


Summer Internships: We encourage students to do policy-related summer internships.  In addition to cooperating with the Institute of Politics internship program, we are also expanding our own international internship program, which provides funding and internship opportunities in China, Brazil, and Europe.  During the pandemic, we encourage students to do remote internships or other kinds of internships that they can pursue safely, following public health guidance for their local areas.

Applying: Concentrators should complete the Public Policy plan of study supplement, review it with their concentration adviser, and submit the completed form to the Government Department Undergraduate Coordinator, Karen Kaletka