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Courses and Requirements

The goal of Hamilton's Public Policy Program is to prepare students to examine, shape and participate in civic life in all its dimensions.

The Public Policy Program is administered through the departments of Economics, Government and Philosophy. A concentration in public policy consists of 11 courses: 251, 382 and the Senior Project; Economics 100 or 101; Economics 102 or 166; Government 116 and 230; and courses chosen from the following options:

two of the following ethics courses:
Biology 223 -- Bioethics
Classics 350 -- Ethics and Politics in Ancient Greece and Rome
Literature 152 -- Literature and Ethics
Philosophy 114 — Ethics of Belief
Government/Philosophy 117 — Introduction to Political Theory
Philosophy 125 -- Philosophy and Incarceration
Philosophy 206 --Ethical and Social Issues in the Digital Age
Philosophy 219 -- Introduction to Moral Theory
Philosophy 221 -- Food and Philosophy
Philosophy 235 — Environmental Ethics
Philosophy 307 -- The Concept of Authority
Philosophy 411 -- The Ethics and Politics of Food
Philosophy 431 — Kant
Philosophy 450 -- Ethical Theory
Philosophy 452 -- Evolution and Morality
Religious Studies 260/460 -- The Self Beyond Itself

and one of the following “issue areas” courses:
Economics 318 -- The Economics of Technology and Innovation
Economics 325 — Comparative Economic Systems
Economics 331 — International Trade Theory and Policy
Economics 333 -- Development and Social Change
Economics 340 — Economic Development
Economics 341 -- Energy Economics
Economics 348 -- Economics of Social Responsibility
Economics 350 — Economics of Poverty and Income Distribution
Economics 360 — Health Economics
Economics 378 -- Economics of Gender
Economics 380 — Environmental Economics
Economics 390 -- Labor Economics
Economics 415 -- Economics of Higher Education
Economics 433 -- International Finance
Economics 435 -- Industrial Organization Theory and Applications
Economics 440 — Public Economics
Economics 446 -- Monetary Policy
Economics 453 -- Economic Development in Latin America
Government 212 -- Climate Change
Government 285 — Introduction to Environmental Politics
Government 287 -- Political Theory and the Environment
Government 335 — Criminal Law
Government 338 -- American Public Administration
Government 340 -- Race and American Democracy
Government 356 -- The Political Theory of Personal Privacy
Government 359 -- The Organization and Politics of American Policing
Government 360 -- The Politics and Theory of Place and Space
Government 363 -- Poverty and Development
Government 365 -- Free Speech Theory
Government 376 -- Government Failure? The American Administrative State
Government 389 -- Capitalism, Democracy, and the Workplace
Sociology 204 -- Social Class in American Society
Sociology 216 -- Sociology of Aging
Sociology 223 -- Law and Society
Sociology 226 -- The Sociology of Health and Illness
Sociology 278 -- Race, Class, Gender
Sociology 308 -- Issues in Higher Education
Sociology 319 -- Globalization and Its Discontents
Sociology 326 -- The Sociology of Mental Health and Illness
Sociology 345 -- Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in Urban America
Sociology 372 -- Sociology of Disability
Sociology 373 -- Seminar on the Constitution and Social Policy

In addition, students must complete Mathematics 252, 253, or 254, or score a 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics exam.

Students are strongly encouraged to take Economics 100 and Government 116 in their first year, and to take Government 230 and Public Policy 251 in their sophomore year. No student may declare a concentration in public policy without either completing or being enrolled in 251. Concentrators must complete the following courses by the end of the junior year: 251; 382; Economics 100 or 101; Economics 102 or 166; Government 116 and 230; one of the required courses in ethics; and one of the “issue areas” courses listed above. The Senior Project may be completed in one semester (500) or two semesters (500-501). Concentrators fulfill the college’s Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies (SSIH) requirement by completing Public Policy 251 and 382. To qualify for honors in public policy, a student must submit a distinguished record in the concentration and perform with distinction in the Senior Project.

Credit from the Term in Washington Program may be substituted for up to two of the courses required for the concentration, with the approval of the program director. Students interested in pursuing graduate study in public policy or public administration are encouraged to take additional courses in economics, in substantive areas of public policy, and in mathematics and statistics.

A minor in public policy consists of 251, Economics 100 or 101, Economics 102 or 166, Government 230, and one of the required ethics courses above. If the student’s concentration is in economics, government or philosophy, these courses cannot count in both the student’s concentration and the minor. Instead, courses that are required for both the concentration and the minor will be used to satisfy concentration requirements, and they will be replaced by alternative courses in the minor requirements. These alternative courses will be chosen by the program director in consultation with the chair of the student’s concentration department. In addition to the required courses, there are many other courses in the College curriculum that will be of interest to public policy concentrators. Students interested in the concentration should consult as early as possible with Professor Wyckoff.

[247 F] The Pursuit of Happiness.
What is human happiness? What factors increase or decrease it? Why are some countries and cultures happier than others? How can government policies promote happiness? This course considers:-- the nature of happiness from the major philosophical traditions, --the cognitive biases that impede our ability to maximize happiness, --the empirical literature on subjective well-being from the fields of economics, political science, and psychology, --recent trends in capitalist societies and their effects on happiness, and --government policies that might improve human happiness. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, One course in statistics, from any discipline. (Same as Government 247.)

251 F Introduction to Public Policy.
The study of policy analysis using and comparing a variety of disciplinary and analytic traditions. Consideration of controversies over particular policies at the national and local level and the premises underlying them. Examination of methods and principles used in formulating and evaluating public policy. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, Economics 101. Open to seniors with consent of instructor. (Same as Government 251.) Anechiarico.

280 S Conflict Resolution: Policies and Strategies.
This course examines conflict from a variety of perspectives. We will investigate how arbitration, adjudication, and mediation differ, in addition to exploring how the policies and strategies of cultural and legal institutions dictate different approaches to mediation. Societies cope with conflict by enacting policies consistent with their culture and values. This course examines conflict resolution policies in the U.S. and abroad, including the legal system, the media, the educational sector, and international dispute resolution. Prerequisite, 101, 103, 106, 230 or consent of instructor. (Same as Communication 280.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Phelan.
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382 S Topics in Public Policy.
The application of theories and methods of evaluation, design and implementation in an intensive study of a significant problem of public policy. Emphasis on skills of analysis, writing and group problem-solving. Coursework may be supplemented by field work as well as participation by scholars and practitioners sponsored by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 251. (Same as Government 382.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

500/501 Senior Project.
A one- or two-semester senior project, culminating in a thesis. The Program.

(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)

Contact Information


Public Policy Program

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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