Public Policy Minor


Citizens interested in addressing societal problems and even experts with deep, technical knowledge of particular issues often find that politics and governance interfere with and complicate proposals for change.  The process through which policy problems are defined, whether issues find a place on the political agenda, and the particular alternatives that gain prominence may owe less to their efforts and preferences than to political developments and the institutional context. Once policies are enacted, the political process starts anew as implementation unfolds.  Policies may develop very differently “on the ground” than intended, as policy design and delivery can alter their meaning or actual outcomes and produce unintended consequences.  Political factors also influence the sustainability of policies and how, once in place, they themselves influence the political process.

The public policy minor enables students to comprehend such paradoxes by developing their understanding of the political dimensions of public policy and how they shape its conception, formulation, implementation, chances of success, intended and unintended consequences, and evaluation.  Students will have the opportunity to take courses that deal with public policy in the United States, Africa, China, Europe, India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, and with attention to domestic policy (including health, education, energy, criminal justice, natural resources, immigration, social welfare policy, and urban policy) and foreign policy (including foreign aid and national security). The minor is housed in the Government Department but policy courses offered by other departments, if their content pertains to the purposes of the minor, will also be approved for elective credit.


The requirements to earn the Minor are:

1.  Submit an online enrollment application to the Undergraduate Field Coordinator, Danielle O’Connor in the Government Department.

2.  A minimum of 15 credits and five qualifying courses.

3.  Among the five qualifying courses, students must successfully complete a gateway course (which will be offered at least twice in every three years): 

• GOVT 3032 The Politics of Public Policy in the US.

4.  Students must also take one methods course. The following courses fulfill this requirement:

• GOVT 3990 Puzzle Solving with Data

• GOVT 3999 How Do You Know That? Causal Inference in the Social Sciences

5.  An additional three electives, from a list of eligible courses.

Note: We recommend that students consult with an advisor about charting their pathway through the minor. Some may opt to choose their electives exclusively from one of the following groupings: US domestic policy, foreign policy, comparative policy. Others may seek a diversity of courses or courses with a common theme.

6.  Students must earn a minimum grade of C+ on all classes to be used toward the minor.

7.  Government majors who wish to qualify for the minor may count a maximum of one course toward both the major and the minor.

Students are encouraged to sign up for the minor early, rather than waiting until they have completed the requirements.  This will permit them to benefit from faculty advising and other opportunities.  Students may tailor the minor for their particular academic and career goals.

Eligible Courses

This is only a partial list of courses that will count toward the policy minor.  If a course is listed below, it will count toward the public policy minor.  If you have questions about whether another course counts toward the public policy minor, please refer questions to Kanika Khanna (see below), and include a syllabus with your inquiry.

Fall 2022

GOVT Courses and Cross-Lists

  • GOVT 2012 Crime and Policing
  • GOVT 3121 Crime and Punishment
  • GOVT 3293 Comparative Politics of Latin America
  • GOVT 3313 Middle Eastern Politics
  • GOVT 3353 African Politics
  • GOVT 3547 WIM: America, Business & International Political Economy
  • GOVT 3613 Politics of Sustainable Development in Latin America, Part I
  • GOVT 40001.101 Democracy and Representation
  • GOVT 4283 Latino Politics as Racial Politics
  • GOVT 4000.104 Comparative Urbanization
  • GOVT 4000.106 China, Tibet and Xinjiang
  • GOVT 4000.107 China and Asian Security

Outside Courses

Please note that when these courses are offered as cross-lists in other departments, taking this same course in any of those listed departments counts toward the policy minor electives.

  • PAM 3190 Nonprofits and Public Policy
  • PAM/SOC 3360 Evolving Families: Challenges to Public Policy
  • AEM 4450 Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries
  • CRP 3900 City and Regional Futures: Planning Practice, Policy and Design
  • CRP/EAS 4443 Global Climate Change Science and Policy
  • ECON 3805 Competition Law and Policy
  • ILRIC 4360 Global Comparative Disability Policy

    Cornell in Washington: Courses in this program will also count toward the minor.


    Kanika Khanna, Minor Coordinator

    Danielle O’Connor, Undergraduate Coordinator
    210 White Hall, (607) 255-4180

    David Bateman, Assistant Professor
    218 White Hall

    Peter Enns, Associate Professor
    205 White Hall

    Gustavo Flores-Macias, Associate Professor
    219 White Hall

    Sergio Garcia-Rios, Assistant Professor
    308 White Hall

    Peter Katzenstein, the Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor of International Studies
    321 White Hall

    Suzanne Mettler, the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions
    217 White Hall

    Jamila Michener, Assistant Professor
    305 While Hall

    Elizabeth Sanders, Professor Emerita
    312 White Hall

    Nicolas van de Walle, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government
    206 White Hall

    Jeremy Wallace, Associate Professor
    211 White Hall

    Christopher Way, Associate Professor
    306 White Hall

    Jessica Chen Weiss, Associate Professor
    319 White Hall