Summer Minor Program in U.S. Public Policy

A minor in public policy requires 5 courses (15 hours/credits), including:

ECON 1010: Intro to Microeconomics — Course can be taken at any time, before or after the summer program

POLA 3240: Public Policy — Must be taken during the summer unless students have previously completed this course.

Both courses from the NOLA City Politics/Policy track or the Community Engagement Policy Research track — Must be taken during the summer.

Elective — Must be taken during the summer

Important Policies

Pre-Requisites: There are no prerequisites for the courses during the summer. All courses are open to any student of any major.

Co-Requisites: In Session 2, students must take both courses in the track they select. That is, POLA 4011 must be taken concurrently with ENGL 3100 and SOCI 4210 must be taken concurrently with SOCI 4310. This is true whether or not the student is a public policy minor.

Minimum Grades: Students must achieve a C average (2.0) across all required coursework. Students cannot take courses in the program as S/U.

Non-minor Participation in Program: Courses are open to all students but declared minors will have priority registration.

Double-Counting: According to SLA policy, students must have 27 credits in each major that do not also count toward a minor. No courses may overlap between minors.

The Tulane Summer Minor Program in Public Policy will give students a foundation for graduate school in public policy or a career in government and politics at the local, state or national level. Students will complete relevant coursework and participate in service learning that together will provide them with tools in the analysis of policy, knowledge in substantive policy areas, and experience in local government. Students completing the minor will fulfill one of Tulane’s service learning graduation requirements.

Summer Schedule

Session 1: May 31-June 24

POLA 3240: Intro to Public Policy (required) — taught by J. Celeste Lay
This course covers the policy-making process for domestic policy in the United States. We focus on national policies. Policies are the decisions made by a variety of political actors that set and implement a course for action on particular political problems. Thus, they are the meat of politics — without policies, politics have no real stakes. We examine the important concepts and theories about policy-making and study the policy process in its various stages. In the process, there are several case studies we examine as well as an in-depth analysis of certain policies.

+ Choose 1 Elective:
POLI 3010 Genocide, Empire & Torture: U.S. Human Rights Policy through Film— taught by Geoffrey Dancy
This course is designed to give students an understanding of American human rights policy from World War II to the War on Terror. It will focus closely on how the ideology of human rights has been shaped heavily by historical and political factors over time. The course will use a blend of lecture, discussion, analysis of historical texts, and film review to create a well-rounded picture of American human rights promotion at home and abroad. The primary aim of the course is to deepen students’ perspectives on America’s human rights legacy, which is both troubled and hopeful. Classes will pay particular attention to the difficult trade-offs between rights and security that individual decisionmakers face, and the tensions that often arise between domestic and foreign rights policy. Students that take the course will come away with a more nuanced and politically grounded approach to analyzing human rights issues in the United States.


HISU 2910 Sexing the State: Women, Medicine & U.S. Public Policy — taught by Karissa Haugeberg
This course introduces the history of public policies related to women and medicine from the seventeenth century to the present in the United States. Students will read scholarly books and articles, memoirs, and films about Americans’ encounters with gynecology, midwifery and obstetrics, birth control devices, abortion, and reproductive technologies. Additionally, students will have opportunities to design research projects that will draw from archives located on Tulane’s campus. Students will learn about the history of voluntary and coercive sterilization programs, the history of gynecological and obstetrical care, legal and illegal birth control and abortion practices, and the mobilization of the anti-abortion and pro-choice movements. Students may submit for consideration their final papers to The Newcomb College Institute Journal for Research on Women.


Session 2: June 27-July 22

Choose Between Track 1: NOLA City Politics/Policy Research

POLA 4110: Policy Research Shop (required) — taught by Brian Brox
This class creates a partnership between city government and Tulane students in order to address issues of concern to the city and increase students’ civic engagement.  In this course, the professor solicits policy topics from the City of New Orleans and appointed officials and bureaucrats and the students write policy briefs on these issues related to poverty, crime, and education in New Orleans. In exchange for the policy brief, policy sponsors agree to allow the students to present their findings at an official forum, such as a city council meeting.  Students will spend 20 hours per semester conducting research for an office in City Hall as part of a required service learning element.


ENGL 3100 David Simon's Cityscapes: The Wire and Urban Policy in the 21st Century — taught by Jennifer Lightweis-Goff
Journalist and filmmaker David Simon, the auteur behind HBO’s The Wire and Treme, has been praised by no less a source than the MacArthur Foundation for his capacity to “make an argument for the city” in hour-long television dramas that illuminate the complex interplay of systemic and individual forces shaping the U.S. cityscape. In film criticism and writing on the city, the Baltimore of Simon’s The Wire has been taken as at once wholly idiosyncratic and representative of post-industrial urbanity, demonstrating the pressing social problems of urban decay and neoliberalism. This class, structured around David Simon’s shows for HBO – including the New Orleans-centered Treme – will analyze his televisual work alongside classic texts of urban planning and urban crisis. We theorize not only crime, race, class, education, and labor – the dominant themes of the shows – but also the tense interplay between the city and the suburb, the capital and the province, and the South and the North present in Simon’s work. Daily practices in the classroom will include large group discussion in the interdisciplinary idioms of urban planning, film studies, and public policy. Writings for the class will include a traditional research project as well as a short analytical paper that provides close analysis of an episode of The Wire or Treme.

OR Track 2: Community Engagement Policy Research

SOCI 4210: Urban, Ethnography, & Social Justice — taught by Christopher Oliver

In this course students will develop skills and a practical working knowledge of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks used in analyzing urban issues through an exploration of the city of New Orleans. The course will involve a combination of classroom instruction, practitioner engagement, applied field instruction, and professional development activities. A major component of this course will be hands-on, ethnographic explorations of the city, followed by detailed written reflections and analysis of these experiences. Students will spend 20 hours (per semester, not per week) as part of a required service learning element.


SOCI 4310: Crime, Punishment, and Community in NOLA: — taught by Stephen Ostertag
This course critically examines crime and violence (causes/sources, law enforcement and punishment) as they exist in the city of New Orleans, and seeks to discover suggestions on how to move forward on these issues from the perspective of city residents.



For 2016, each class will cost $2400, or a total of $9600 for the entire 4-course sequence.

On-campus housing can be provided for approximately $40 per night.

Financial aid may be available. Students should consult the Office of Financial Aid for specific information.


How to Register

Students should complete a minor declaration form and return it to J. Celeste Lay for her signature at 310 Norman Mayer Bldg.

Registration for courses will be through Gibson starting in April.



J. Celeste Lay at

Tulane University, School of Liberal Arts, 102 Newcomb Hall, New Orleans, LA  70118, (504) 865-5225,