Public Policy

Coordinator:       JOHN CASKEY (Economics)
                           Cathy Wareham (Administrative Assistant)
Committee:         Erin Todd Bronchetti (Economics)
                           Robinson Hollister (Economics)
                           Ellen Magenheim (Economics)
                           Carol Nackenoff (Political Science)
                           Keith Reeves (Political Science)
                           Lynne Schofield (Mathematics and Statistics)
                           Lisa Smulyan (Educational Studies)
                           Richard Valelly (Political Science)
                           Robert Weinberg (History)


The minor in public policy enables students to combine work in several departments toward both critical and practical understanding of public policy issues, including those in the realm of social welfare, health, energy, environment, food and agriculture, and national and global security. These issues may be within domestic, foreign, or international governmental domains. Courses in the minor encompass the development, formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policy.

Note: The faculty of the Public Policy Program and the Curriculum Committee have determined that policy-related courses and internships have become so ingrained in the College’s curriculum that the interdisciplinary program has become redundant. Current students, through the class of 2016, will be able to pursue a minor in public policy. After that time, students may continue to take all of the same courses through the economics, educational studies, engineering, history, mathematics and statistics, and political science departments, but the public policy minor will no longer be offered. Internships related to public policy will continue to be supported by the College, even after the program ends.

The Academic Program

The minor in public policy may be taken together with a course major in any field or as a minor in the Honors Program. At a minimum, the minor consists of six credits and an internship. The program of each minor should be worked out in consultation with the coordinator of the Public Policy Program and approved by the coordinator, preferably at the same time as majors in the Course and Honors Programs are planned.

The public policy minor consists of 6 credits of work. Basic academic requirements for the minor cover three areas: (1) economic analysis, (2) political analysis, and (3) quantitative analysis. These may each be met by taking one course or seminar in each of the three categories; courses that fulfill these requirements are listed below.

In addition to these three preparatory or prerequisite courses, three credits must be taken from among the policy-oriented courses listed below. With the approval of the Public Policy coordinator, other courses, whether taken at Swarthmore or other colleges and universities, that have a substantial focus on public policy analysis can also count for Public Policy credit. If a student takes a two-credit seminar to fulfill a Public Policy requirement, only one credit of the seminar can be counted toward the requirement. Please note that seminars are limited in size and that most departments give priority to departmental majors and minors, so Public Policy minors might not be admitted. In addition, students should take into account course prerequisites when planning the minor program.

Some students may wish to focus their public policy studies heavily in a particular field, e.g. urban policy, food studies, poverty, health, or transportation. This is encouraged for students who have such specific interests.


Some direct experience or practical responsibility in the field, through work in a public, private, or voluntary agency, is required for graduation with a minor in public policy. Normally, students will hold internships between their junior and senior years. The internship program is supervised by the coordinator of the Program. Planning for the internship should begin six to eight months before the time it might commence. Students should keep the Program coordinator informed of their internship plans and, if needed, seek his or her advice in finding an appropriate internship.

Funding for an internship is sometimes provided by the agency in which a person serves. Frequently, however, students require support to cover their travel and maintenance costs during the eight to ten weeks of a summer internship. For students who are minors, the College can generally provide support, up to a specified limit, to help fund the internship. Other possible sources of support for an internship include the James H. Scheuer Summer Internships in Environmental and Population Studies, the J. Roland Pennock Fellowships in Public Affairs, the Joel Dean Awards, the Sam Hayes III Research Grant, the Lippincott Peace Fellowships, and the David G. Smith Internship in Health and Social Policy. Information on each of these sources can be obtained in the Public Policy Program Office, 105 Trotter.

Thesis / Culminating Exercise

Students who are honors minors in Public Policy must write a senior thesis for one of their policy credits. Frequently, but not always, the thesis is related to the internship and/or a student’s focus of study. Students writing a thesis should register for PPOL 097 in the fall of their senior year.

Honors Minor Option

Students construct an honors minor in public policy by combining the one-credit thesis with a related course or seminar. Policy work examined as a minor should meet three criteria: first, the thesis and the associated coursework should fit together in some fashion that is coherent and examinable; second, the honors minor preparation must meet the College requirement that the work be in a discipline outside the student’s major department; and third, each student must have his/her proposed preparation approved by the Public Policy Program coordinator who may consult with the Public Policy Committee.

For more information on the public policy minor, internships, theses and related topics, talk with the coordinator of the program.

Off-Campus Study

Minors planning to study abroad during their junior year should confirm that any required courses that have not been completed will be offered during their remaining time on campus. For students who will be away during the spring semester, it is highly recommended that the internship be secured before leaving or that the internship be done after the sophomore year. Communicating with the program office and, more importantly, with a prospective internship organization, from abroad is difficult and will limit opportunities.

Areas of Policy Focus

As noted above, some students may wish to focus their substantive work in policy heavily in a particular field. Given the size and interests of the faculty, not every area of public policy is well represented within the College’s curriculum and faculty. But generally students can fulfill even highly specialized interests within the tri-College community or by taking courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Courses that fulfill the public policy foundation requirements in political analysis, economic analysis, and quantitative analysis as well as other courses that count toward the program are listed subsequently. As noted above, students can petition the program coordinator to have appropriate courses that are not listed below count toward the minor.

Foundation Requirements

Political Analysis Courses
POLS 002. American Politics or equivalent policy analysis in political science
POLS 003. Comparative Politics
POLS 004. International Politics

Economic Analysis Courses
ECON 011. Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON 041. Public Economics
ECON 141. Public Economics*

Quantitative Analysis Courses
ECON 031. Introduction to Econometrics
ECON 035. Econometrics
ENGR 057/ECON 032. Operations Research
STAT 011. Statistical Methods
STAT 031. Data Analysis and Visualization
STAT 061. Mathematical Statistics

Policy Courses and Seminars (Arranged by Department)*
ECON 005. Savage Inaccuracies: The Facts and Economics of Education in America (Cross-listed as EDUC 069)
ECON 041. Public Economics
ECON 042. Law and Economics
ECON 044. Urban Economics
ECON 051. The International Economy
ECON 073. Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Economics
ECON 075. Health Economics
ECON 081. Economic Development
ECON 082. Political Economy of Africa
ECON 101A. Economic Theory: Advanced Microeconomics*
ECON 141. Public Economics*
ECON 151. International Economics*
ECON 171. Labor and Social Economics*
ECON 181. Economic Development*
EDUC 068/SOAN 020B. Urban Education
ENGR 004. Introduction to Environmental Protection
ENGR 066. Environmental Systems Engineering
HIST 049. Race and Foreign Affairs
HIST 054. Women, Society, and Politics
HIST 066. Disease, Culture and Society in the Modern World
LING 032. International Perspectives on Deafness
PPOL 097/098. Public Policy Thesis
POLS 015. Ethics and Public Policy
POLS 029. Public Opinion, Polling, and Public Policy
POLS 032. Gender, Politics, and Policy
POLS 033. Race, Ethnicity, and Public Policy: African Americans
POLS 039. Faith-Based Social Policy in the United States
POLS 041. Political Economy and Social Policy: The United States in the 1990s
POLS 042. Congress in the American Political System
POLS 043. Environmental Politics and Policy
POLS 048. The Politics of Population
POLS 055. China and the World
POLS 070B. The Politics of Punishment
POLS 104. American Political System
POLS 106. The Urban Underclass and Public Policy
POLS 111. International Politics*
SOAN 020B/EDUC 068. Urban Education

Course descriptions can be found in each department’s course listings in this catalog.

* Note: Seminars are limited in size, departmental majors and minors are often given registration priority, so public policy minors may not be admitted.