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The curriculum in the Public Policy program is designed to prepare students for careers in government, human services, social work, urban affairs, city planning, law, community organizing, business, communications or academia.

Students are required to develop a concentration within the program. Possible concetrations include: children and families; education; environmental policy; development policy; foreign policy; health care; law; national policy process; sexuality; technology; or welfare.

The program offers an interdisciplinary major, a B.A., and an interdisciplinary minor.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Anthropology/Sociology or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

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Requirements for the Major (B.A.)

interdisciplinary, 10 courses

One course in each of the three Public Policy core groups (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences); two credits in skills courses, at least one credit of which must be in statistics; at least four 200-level or above courses forming a concentration in an area chosen by the student (see examples below); and a capstone course that requires writing a policy brief. No more than four courses may be taken from any one department or program (PPOL 499 excepted). The capstone course should be completed in the senior year, but it may be completed in the junior year if circumstances require this. Each semester, there are a variety of courses offered in which students may elect to write a policy brief (often in addition to the regular course work) and which thus can count as the student's capstone course.

Requirements for the Minor

interdisciplinary, 6 courses

Two Public Policy core courses from two different divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences); one credit in skills courses; and three courses forming a concentration in an area chosen by the student (see examples below). No more than three courses may be taken from any one department or program (PPOL 499 excepted).

Additional Information

PPOL Petition Instructions


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with the analytical skills needed to solve societal problems.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Public Policy a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

PPOL 101 Democracy and Public Policy


Examine the role the federal government plays in policy-making by examining domestic policy issues through various perspectives such as modern conservatism, modern liberal and radical/democrat socialist. Once you've established the various roles of of the federal government, study the evolution of American political ideas and institutions during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in HIST 105, Intro to the American Experience.

PPOL 219 Sexual Minority Movements and Public Policy


Explore the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered movements from both contemporary and historical perspectives and address the sources of these movements, the barriers that they have faced, and how they have movilized to overcome these barriers. Then enroll in SOC 221, Race and Ethnic Relations, and discover how racial, ethnic and sexual minority groups deal with prejudice and discrimination, and segregation and assimiliation.

PPOL 328 Environmental Policy


Assess the capability of the American policy process to respond to energy and environmental concerns and examine the nature of the problem in light of recent research on issues such as global warming, pollution and acid rain, solid waste management, and deforestation. Expand your knowledge of environmental policy by enrolling in ENV 205, Intro to Environmental Law, and study environmental policies like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and National Environmental Policy Act.