GOVT S-1507 Introduction to Public Policy

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7-week session | CRN 34115

With political polarization fast becoming the defining issue of our time, there is a pressing need to understand the intentions behind governmental action. In this course, we work to first define public policy and then identify the characteristics of effective policies. The course focuses on policy research related to today's most meaningful public debates concerning education, immigration, health, criminal justice, and social inequality. Students critically engage with qualitative and quantitative academic literature, identifying the implicit assumptions, veiled ideology, and methodological choices that drive different research results. Beyond the theory, students design and conduct their own study with the goal of advancing public policy research.

Course information
Class meetings

Tuesdays, Thursdays, 6:30-9:30 pm

Required on campus weekend

  • Saturday-Sunday, July 28-29, 9 am-5 pm
  • One Brattle Square 202

Start date

Tuesday, June 26


4 credits

Course tuition


Enrollment status

  • Limited to 35 students
    Registration Closed
  • Notes

    This course is taught via live web conference using Zoom. Not open to Secondary School Program students. Harvard College students see additional information. Along with the web-conference meetings, this course includes an intensive—and mandatory—weekend residency. Students must be present for the entire on-campus weekend session to earn credit for the course. The course begins via web conference during the first week of the Summer School term, and continues to meet through the week ending August 10. Please see the course website or syllabus for the specific weekly course meeting dates. Tuition does not include hotel accommodations, transportation, or meals for the on-campus weekend session. See Visiting Campus and Finding Housing for information about visiting Cambridge. International Students see important visa information.



    Viridiana Rios Contreras, PhD.

    Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science, Purdue University