Public Policy at TCNJ
The study of public policy seeks to explain and improve the efforts of the public sector to address a wide range of social problems. While many human interactions can be accomplished best through private interactions, some of the most important issues in society fall under the public sphere due to their direct or side effects on third parties or the mass public. Issue areas containing a significant public policy component include healthcare, the economy, foreign affairs, education, the environment, public infrastructure, privacy concerns, and a wide range of legal affairs.
Sadly, not all attempts to address such problems are successful. At times public actors seek to improve policies’ ability to meet social goals but at other times political actors may settle for suboptimal social outcomes, or even seek results that benefit the few at the expense of the many.
The discipline of Political Science stands as the primary means of understanding the public policy process, including group motives, institutional influences, and policy results. Analysts largely have studied policymaking in the United States yet Political Scientists increasingly use similar techniques to understand the public policy process in other countries or in international institutions. For practitioners who want a better understanding of how public action is crafted, and how to improve it, an understanding of political interests and institutions is crucial.
Public Policy Minor
Through the Public Policy minor offered by TCNJ’s Political Science Department, students learn how and why public policy is directed, formulated, legislated, implemented, financed, evaluated and adjusted. Students in the minor complete a total of five classes in core political institutions, in the various aspects of the policy process, and in applications thereof to specific issue areas. Examples of the latter include classes in “Healthcare Policy,” ”The Policy Aspects of Budgeting,” “Marijuana Policy across the States,” and “Foreign Policy.” All classes offer (use language from signature experiences).
An optional but highly recommended internship allows students to use and master such knowledge in an actual practice. Recent internships include positions with the Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce, others. The Brian Stack internship, named for a TCNJ alum, offers paid internships in the New Jersey Governor’s Office. Our students also find numerous and diverse internships while studying at The Washington Center. Students who perfect ideas for the improvement of public policy might compete for The College’s Demonstreus prize, awarded annually.