Public Policy 536S

Public Policy 563S: Making Social Policy 

Looking at a range of social policy issues, Professor Jenni Owen's course focuses on the policy-making process, the role of different sectors in policymaking, when and why policymakers use research and when and why they don’t, and communicating with policymakers.

Throughout the course, students learn about the value of research in informing policy, and the constraints within which policy-making occurs. They:

  • Enhance their understanding of policy-making
  • Expand their knowledge about a range of current social policy challenges
  • Develop skills to bridge the research-to-policy gap, including the ability to write and speak about research for a policy or practitioner audience
  • Gain knowledge about intersections among the sectors – in particular between the public and academic sectors
  • Develop the ability to critically analyze policy material

Service-Learning in Public Policy 563S

While the students learn about the varying issues surrounding general policy-making through classroom discussions and readings, the service-learning aspect of the course allows the student to gain real world experience:

  • Student course work combines policy and research considerations with interactions with policy-makers, creating the potential for students to contribute useable insights in policy-making. 
  • Readings include research, policy, and practice articles from multiple disciplines.
  • Independent and group assignments combine the students' knowledge from the readings with their observations of "live" policy events.

Authentic Engagement with the Policy-Making Process

Students in Making Social Policy work in small groups to research and address a question or concern raised by a policy partner. Past and current service-learning partners have included:

  • A Durham County Commissioner
  • A member of the NC General Assembly
  • Governor Bev Perdue's Policy Office
  • NC General Assembly - Fiscal Research Division
  • NC Action for Children
  • NC Network of Grantmakers
  • Oak Foundation
  • State Director for a US Representative from North Carolina

Stemming from questions posed by the partners, the students have conducted policy research related to:

Childhood nutrition programs

How is the Childhood Nutrition Plan funded, and is there a link between the Program and obesity?

Public school districts and models of success

What are the best practices for achieving good educational outcomes with poor and minority children, and what kind of schools have proven successful?

Suspension in schools

What are some specific legislative options for addressing North Carolina's high rate of suspension?

Children of undocumented immigrants and college attendance

Examine the issue pertaining to children of undocumented immigrants and college attendance, focusing on the NC policy debate, and what other states are doing in this area.

Fiscal Research

Policy research related to adult care homes and community mental health placement requirements.

NC Network of Grantmakers

Examine options for postsecondary success through pathways other than college

North Carolina Office of the Governor

Explore options for providing a universal high quality pre-K program for four-year-olds in NC

For more information, contact professor Owen.