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. This interdisciplinary concentration draws on the tools and insights of political science, economics, and philosophy to evaluate governmental decisions and design more effective programs. At Hamilton, public policy is a hands-on major where students take on projects that make a difference in the lives of people and communities. 

Students Will Learn To:

  • Understand the ethical dimensions of policy decisions and the justice implications of policy research
  • Communicate clearly and persuasively about public policy issues in their own research
  • Engage with stakeholders and policy makers as interns and researchers
  • Establish a foundation for professional work in policy science and policy making

A Sampling of Courses

Medical equipment lines a health center wall

Comparative Health Policy

Investigation of health policy from a comparative perspective. The course introduces fundamental concepts in health policy and examines different health care systems across the globe as well as case studies in health care delivery and public health. 

Explore these select courses:

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.

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.

This course provides an introduction to microeconomic analysis and its applications to environmental policy. We first consider the conditions under which markets fail to efficiently allocate scarce resources in the context of environmental issues, such as managing natural resources and climate change. We examine policy instruments including regulations, taxes, subsidies, quotas, and tradable permits to address those market failures. The last part of the course focuses on analyzing distributive impacts of environmental policies and understanding the economic forces behind environmental justice issues.

This course focuses on understanding community-mobilization, organizational leadership models and perspectives for creating social change. It will promote an intersectional understanding of campus and community conditions that give rise to damaging experiences. Students will collaboratively develop leadership change strategies that oppose more common, “expert”-driven approaches. Required field study: week one of spring break. Prerequisite: participation in LLI  (January) and Intro level WMGST, PPOL, AFRST, or SOC course and consent of the instructor.

Meet Our Faculty

Frank Anechiarico

Maynard-Knox Professor of Law, Director of Public Policy


Public administration, public ethics, and law and society

Explore Hamilton Stories

Dewayne Martin ’24, 2023 Truman Scholar

Martin ’24 Becomes Hamilton’s Second Truman Scholar

Dewayne Martin ’24 has been awarded a 2023 Truman Scholarship, the nation’s premiere scholarship for students interested in pursuing public service. Martin becomes the second Hamilton student to receive the award created in 1975; the first was Frederick Nelson in 1978.

Phil Bean chats with students during his class on the history of Utica media.

The Levitt Justice Lab: A Program Built to Inspire

The Levitt (Center) Law & Justice Lab, a program designed for students interested in synthesizing perspectives on public policy issues, just concluded a semester focused on exploring policies affecting homelessness in Utica, N.Y. The experience was led by Professors Frank Anechiarico (government), Herman Lehman (biology), Philip Bean (history), and Gwendolyn Dordick (government).

banner - Crafting Criminal Justice Reform

Police Districts Use Partnership Racial Justice Report

“We have been building bridges,” says Professor of Government Frank Anechiarico, who has been leading the College/Community Partnership for Racial Justice since its inception last summer.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in public policy are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • 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


Department Name

Public Policy Program

Contact Name

Frank Anechiarico, Program Director

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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