Public Policy, Academics | Earlham College
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Public Policy

Overview   |   Opportunities   |   Outcomes   |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study  


Majors in Public Policy are expected to achieve both depth and breadth of knowledge in several fields, with Politics acting as an anchor for additional work in Economics, Statistics and Theory. Public policy students gain competence at:

  • thinking analytically and critically;
  • understanding policy contexts and processes;
  • conducting and using research;
  • applying statistical, economic and other quantitative and qualitative tools of analysis;
  • developing written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills; and
  • understanding their civic responsibilities and how to make ethical judgments.

These are critical skills for not only gaining meaningful employment post-Earlham, but also to have the largest possible impact on changing the world for the better once you have landed a job. Incoming students have the opportunity both to build a foundation by completing several core requirements and the flexibility to find their own path as they choose the electives that will help define their undergraduate experience. Students and faculty work closely both in and out of the classroom – these collaborative learning opportunities are invaluable in helping students find and meet their potential. Finally, each new major has a dedicated adviser who is committed to providing the guidance needed to not only succeed as an undergraduate, but to prepare for life beyond Earlham.


Public policy is the study of what government does, why, and what difference it makes. Stated another way, it refers to all of the laws, regulations and programs developed by governments to solve problems. Thus, majoring in public policy provides students with the critical knowledge and skills needed to make problem solving their specialty. Policy majors will learn to grapple with society’s most urgent issues, ranging from economic policy to environmental protection to national security. Addressing these problems requires in-depth knowledge, analytical skills and a sophisticated understanding of how governments and markets work. Earlham’s major in public policy meets those objectives with a collection of multidisciplinary courses, primarily from the Politics and Economics departments – but also including elective courses in History, Management, Psychology, Philosophy and Sociology.

Special Learning Opportunities

Many Politics courses include detailed simulations that help students develop collaborative and communications skills. Every year, Earlham students organize and run a large and successful Model UN conference for regional high school students – which requires an understanding of foreign policy. The Politics capstone experience calls on students to reflect on their Earlham experience and consider the connections between various aspects of the College experience, including courses, internships and off-campus studies. Recent student-faculty research projects include a study of the issues surrounding orbital Earth science research and creating a policy brief recommending the development of a college garden on campus.


An Earlham education is already terrific training for either a career in public affairs or graduate policy studies, but the major adds more rigor to this preparation. Given that the field has several well-defined career paths, our majors having the credentials to pursue jobs with government agencies (local, state, national, and international), consulting firms, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. In addition, our graduates regularly pursue graduate studies in public policy analysis, public administration, urban affairs, and law. In recent years Earlham students have successfully gained admission to top ten schools in each of these fields – most recently this includes Syracuse, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford, the University of North Carolina, Bard, the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Earlham has a growing relationship with Indiana University, which has the second-ranked public affairs program in the nation.

Meet An Earlhamite

Dennis Vera
A Resilient Heart

Dennis Vera ’19 places a priority on people, loves to socialize and has a deep love for family. She also refuses to give up.

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Becky Ioppolo
Real-World Confidence

Becky Ioppolo’s ’13 Earlham experience pointed her toward different fields and ways of thinking. And it gave her courage, all of which has proven helpful.

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Alejandra Traslosheros Reyes
Justice Driven

Growing up in four different countries taught Alejandra Traslosheros Reyes ’18 that you can never learn enough.

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Our Faculty

Jonathan Diskin
Professor of Economics; Co-Director of the Center of Social Justice

Thor Hogan
Associate Professor of Politics and Environmental Sustainability

Rajaram Krishnan
Professor of Economics

Mark Lautzenheiser
Associate Professor of Economics

Peng Yu
Assistant Professor of Politics

Plan of Study

The Major

Students choosing to major in Public Policy must complete the following course requirements:

Both of the following Politics courses:

  • POLS 121 Introduction to American Politics and Policy
  • POLS 242 Intermediate American Public Policy

The following Economics courses:

  • ECON 101 Introduction to Macroeconomics
  • ECON 103 Introduction to Microeconomics

Both of the following Statistics courses:

  • ECON 204 Statistics for Economics
  • ECON 305 Econometrics

One of the following Theory courses:

  • POLS 360  Foundation of Political Theory
  • POLS 362  Modern Political Theory

The following Capstone experience:

  • POLS 488 Senior Capstone Experience

Completion of a significant (100 hours) public service internship or similar experience, including an on-campus Presentation of Learning

Completion of the Politics Department A.R.T.S. Skill Themes:

  • “A” for Argument: courses where students learn disciplinary definitions and practice constructing a scholarly argument;
  • “R” for Research: courses where students must demonstrate an ability to conduct case-study research and propose reasonable solutions to real-world problems;
  • “T” for Theory: courses where students practice effectively summarizing and properly citing theoretical material [the Theory requirement fulfills this theme], and;
  • “S” for Simulation: courses where students will work in groups to actively participate in either real-world or simulated debates and activities.

Three of the following approved elective courses (no more than two from one department):

  • ECON 205: Mathematical Foundations of Economics
  • ECON 301: Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • ECON 303: Intermediate Microeconomics [ECON 205 prerequisite]
  • ECON 330: Money and Capital Markets
  • ECON 341: Labor Economics
  • ECON 343: Economics of the Environment
  • ECON 344: Economics of the State
  • ECON 345: Urban Political Economy
  • ECON 348: International Trade
  • MATH 180: Calculus A
  • MATH 300: Statistics [MATH 180 prerequisite]
  • MGMT 203: Introduction to Human Behavior in Organizations
  • PHIL 310: Philosophy of Law
  • POLS 322: Climate Policy
  • POLS 324: Energy Policy
  • POLS 341: Political Parties and Elections
  • POLS 343: Legislative Toolkit
  • POLS 345: American Presidency
  • POLS 346: Constitutional Law
  • POLS 360: Foundation of Political Theory
  • POLS 362: Modern Political Theory
  • POLS 372: International Law: Sovereignty, Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
  • POLS 373: International Law: Environment and Development
  • POLS 378: International Political Economy
  • PSYC 354: Interviewing and Field Research
  • PSYC 379: Community Psychology

The Minor

Students choosing to minor in Public Policy must complete the following course requirements (no more than two courses can overlap with a major in Politics):

Both of the following Politics courses:

  • POLS 121: Introduction to American Politics and Policy
  • POLS 242: Intermediate American Public Policy

The following Economics course:

  • ECON 103 Introduction to Microeconomics

Both of the following Statistics courses:

  • ECON 204: Statistics for Economics
  • ECON 305: Econometrics

One of the following Theory courses:

  • POLS 360: Foundation of Political Theory
  • POLS 362: Modern Political Theory

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.