An economist by training, Paul Gary Wyckoff's current research focuses on the empirical foundations of public sector decision-making.
As a senior public policy major, you will have the option of evaluating a policy or issue submitted by a local government. Through this, you could help shape public policy; other students have. Your courses will focus on the outcomes of government decisions and take a practical approach to real-world problems.
About the Major
Government majors focus on the process of decision-making, while public policy majors focus on outcomes, from massive programs such as Medicare and Social Security to the details of social services and education policy. The interdisciplinary concentration draws on the tools and insights of political science, economics and philosophy to evaluate governmental decisions and design more effective programs. This practical approach makes public policy a hands-on major where students can make a difference in the lives of people and communities.
Gary (Wyckoff) was a good professor in the classroom, but he shone working with students one-on-one or in small groups. He gets to know all of his students on a personal level, truly caring for their well-being, not just their success in his class. When I visited him last month, I was touched that he asked how my vision was – I'd had lots of vision issues my senior year – and that he asked about me not just professionally but also about my family.
Jen Kleindienst ’09 — public policy major
Why draw on three disciplines? Because in the real world, policy decisions have three distinct dimensions. Students evaluate decisions by asking fundamental questions: Is this policy economically feasible, and what are its costs and benefits to society? Is this policy morally defensible? Is this policy politically viable? Taken together, these perspectives give students the tools to analyze governmental decisions, to research issues and practices – and to write and speak with force and clarity about public policy.
Careers After Hamilton
- Director of Product Strategy, IBM
- Sustainability Coordinator, Wesleyan University
- Volunteer, Peace Corps
- President/Co-Founder, Biomarker Strategies
- Director of Environmental Advocacy, Safe Climate Campaign
- Strategic Advisor, City of Seattle
- Writer, Money Magazine
- President/CEO, Consumer Health Foundation
- Program Lead Editor, U.S. Global Change Research Program
The Pursuit of Happiness 247
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.View All Courses
Introduction to Public Policy 251F
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.View All Courses
Conflict Resolution: Policies and Strategies 280
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.View All Courses
The Politics of Public Policy 314
Analysis of the values and choices central in the democratic policy-making process with a focus on political institutions, with an emphasis on presidential leadership and how complex systems of governance actually function. Also looks at ethical and global implications of policy making to trace some of the principle tensions in democratic public policy making. Utilizes several case studies that exam the political implications of policy decisions.View All Courses
Topics in Public Policy 382S
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.View All Courses
Senior Project 500/501
A one- or two-semester senior project, culminating in a thesis.View All Courses
Connections and Careers
Networking and Internships Lead to Job at Goldman Sachs
Immersed in Real-Life Law — and Loving It
On day one of his internship in the Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office, his supervisor meted out an unvarnished observation about a law career. “If you like this,” the supervisor told Federico Romero ’22, “this is what you’ll do. If you don’t like it, I’ve had a lot of interns that don’t like it, and they pursue something else.”