Why Study Public Policy?

Start by considering these five reasons why the study of public policy should be important to you:

  1. As inheritors of an enduring democracy, also the sole superpower, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to participate in civic affairs. As responsible citizens, we need know-how: the analytical, ethical, and practical skills necessary to effectively engage in public affairs. Regard this responsibility as a life-long duty and relish it.

  2. The sheer extent, scope, and cost of the intervention of government in society, the economy, and world affairs makes the study of public policy essential for a participation to keep the culture of democracy vibrant. Similarly, the amount of spending by government at all levels makes this an important topic. As taxpayers, we have a stake in effective public policy and in the overall scope of the government in our lives. We also consume a vast and varied bundle of public services, many we may not recognize as such. A detailed, current discussion of the dimensions, growth, and composition of government spending will be provided in chapter five, which deals with the budget as part of the policy cycle.

  3. Understanding policy analysis permits us to actualize solutions to practical problems which are brought to the agenda of government, or might be. These may be our own problems, those of our community, our profession, or problems to which we feel a special commitment. Knowing how public policy works can improve our ability to deal with these issues. (At the moment, I am President of a lake association in New Hampshire that must seek approvals for a rebuilt dam. Tonight, I go to a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection over flooding issues in my community. I must know the regulations and the implementation process of the regulators. I need to understand public policy. )

  4. Public policy analysis can become a professional role for students trained in political science, economics, law, environmental studies, business, and other disciplines. These fields constantly interface with government and have a direct stake in the quality and character of public policy. To the extent that analysts can understand how policy is made, what impacts are derived, and how policy can improve, more effective public policy might be formulated. See the video of my former Ramapo College student Mark Lotwis.

  5. The Ramapo College Mission Statement emphasizes teaching character building and effective citizenship. Public Policy respects and supports that obligation.

The next section provides discusses the scope of public policy.

The Public Policy Cycle Web Site | Page: © Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | ™ ProfWork | wkhayes@gmail.com
Initialized: June 17, 2001 | Last Update: 05/28/2014