Why Study Public Policy at New College?

At New College, our Public Policy AOC is designed to give you the research, analysis and communication skills you will need to succeed in graduate school and beyond. Working one-on-one with a faculty mentor you will design a plan of study that matches our courses to your specific academic interests and goals.

Public Policy area of concentration

The Public Policy AOC is an interdisciplinary program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the major public policy issues facing society. The goal is to allow students to examine policy problems within a non-partisan, objective framework, and to formulate effective policy solution to such problems. Policy issues are inherently multi-faceted, and, as a result, require an array of analytical tools to understand. Economic factors and the political process are fundamental to policy issues, and thus the disciplines of political science and economics constitute the core of the Public Policy AOC.

But important insights into specific policy issues can be gained from a number of other fields, such as sociology, environmental studies, anthropology, international studies, and gender studies. Students, in consultation with a faculty mentor, are free to choose the issue that sparks their interest.

In the past, issues selected by students have included, among others, state constitutional balanced-budget requirements, local energy policy, coastal zone management, racial discrimination, bicycle pathways, and educational policy-making. Student will also have an opportunity to pursue internships designed to provide real-world experience in the way policy issues are approached at the local, state, national, and international level. 

Area of Concentration Requirements

The usual beginning point for studying policy issues are the introductory theory course in economics and introductory courses on the American political system. Successful completion of these courses will result in a solid foundation on the economic principles that shape policy formation and analysis, and the political processes and influences that determine the actual adoption (or not) of policy proposals. Students then build on this foundation by taking upper-level courses in political science, economics, and other fields that might inform the particular policy issue that they wish to analyze.

The final step in the AOC is the Senior Thesis, in which students apply the analytical tools and insights they have learned into a comprehensive analysis of a specific issue of their choice.

Course Requirements

Economics: Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Macroeconomics, Public Finance – Government Expenditures, and Public Finance – Taxation.

Political Science: Introduction to American Politics, Power and Public Policy, plus at least two other policy-related Political Science courses.

Other: In addition to the eight courses listed above, students are required to take two additional policy-related courses. Students are encouraged to consider policy-related courses in other disciplines. Sociology, in particular, offers several policy-related courses on a regular basis. Students may also take classes from Public Policy faculty members that address some specific policy domain, for example, health care policy, environmental policy, urban policy, or immigration policy.

Students pursuing an AOC in Public Policy are also required to take a course in basic statistics. While no additional courses in quantitative analysis are required, students are strongly encouraged to take additional courses of this nature if they plan on pursuing a career in some aspect of public policy.

In order to complete a Public Policy Area of Concentration, the Senior Thesis must be sponsored by a member of the Public Policy faculty, who are listed below. One other member of the Public Policy faculty must be on the Baccalaureate Committee.

Joint Disciplinary AOC Requirements

Economics/Public Policy: For this Joint Disciplinary AOC, the student must complete all the requirements for an Area of Concentration in Economics, including completion of both Public Finance Courses (Government Spending and Taxation). In addition, the student must satisfactorily complete Introduction to American Politics and Power and Public Policy, plus one other non-economics policy-related course. A non-Economics member of the Public Policy faculty must be on the Baccalaureate Committee.

Political Science/Public Policy: For this Joint Disciplinary AOC, the student must complete all the requirements for an Area of Concentration in Political Science, including American Politics and Power and Public Policy. In addition, the student must satisfactorily complete Introductory Microeconomics and Introductory Macroeconomics, plus one other non-political science policy-related course. A non-Political Science member of the Public Policy faculty must be on the Baccalaureate Committee.

Other Discipline (not Political Science or Economics)/Public Policy: For this Joint Disciplinary AOC, the student must complete the requirements for the “Other Discipline” Joint Disciplinary Area of Concentration. In addition, the student must satisfactorily complete Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Macroeconomics, American Political Development, Power and Public Policy, either Public Finance: Government Expenditures or Public Finance: Taxation, and one other course in Political Science. The student must also complete a course in quantitative methods. A member of the Public Policy faculty must be on the Baccalaureate Committee.


  • Richard D. Coe, Professor of Economics; Division Chair
  • Tarron KhemrajProfessor of Economics and International Studies, William G. & Marie Selby Chair
  • Tracy Collins, Assistant Professor of Economics
  • Keith A. FitzgeraldAssociate Professor of Political Science, Faculty Chair
  • Frank AlcockAssociate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies
  • Barbara HicksProfessor of Political Science; Director, International Studies Program
  • Sarah Hernandez, Associate Professor of Sociology & Latin America and Caribbean Studies

Recent Theses

  • Creative Environmental Planning: Its Elements and Constraints
  • The Concept of Representation: Normative and Empirical Considerations
  • Planned Unit Development: A Community Within a Community
  • A Framework for Environmentally Balanced Policy Making
  • The Florida Public Interest Research Group
  • Drink to the Bird: A Black Conspectus of Ralph McGill
  • From ‘Common Sense’ to COMSAT: Mass Communications Policy and American Media
  • Public Policy and the Government Corporation