To create graduates who become changemakers in their communities, North Park University is introducing an interdisciplinary public policy major that will incorporate social sciences, physical sciences, and the humanities.
Public policy programs equip students to create laws, regulations, civic budgets, and other programs that affect average citizens. Longtime North Park professor Dr. Jon Peterson is spearheading the program. The professor of politics and government said the major is perfect for students who want to improve their communities.
“Wherever you want to make a difference, you’re going to run into a government,” Peterson said. “Even if you want to change something through a community organization, you can’t do it without dealing with the government, so it’s vital to learn how the system works.”
The new major will require 36 semester hours of major coursework and 120 total credits for graduation. Course offerings will include American government, an introduction to public policy, and principles of microeconomics, among others. Students will also be strongly encouraged to intern during their studies.
Together, North Park’s Center for Civic Engagement and Politics and Government Department have developed internship partnerships with many organizations, including the offices of U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, the State of Illinois Governor’s Office, and the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office.
Public policy majors can further tailor their area of study to suit their interests by adding a minor. For instance, students focusing on environmental issues can combine the public policy major with a biology minor. Peterson said the major is flexible and comprehensive in scope, allowing students to work in various fields.
Public policy graduates tend to secure jobs in civil service at all levels of government, from federal to local. Other options include private sector careers at nonprofits and institutions that engage with government agencies and pursuing advanced degrees in public administration, public policy, or law school.