The Social Policy program explores how policies function as the guiding principles that serve as the foundation for social programs. The Social Policy program analyzes the ways in which social policies and social institutions influence the course of human lives, and the ways in which individuals can influence social policies. The program provides a strong background in the social sciences and an understanding of current social policy issues. This interdisciplinary program also draws upon current research in the fields of African American studies, anthropology, communication studies, economics, gender studies, history, philosophy, political science, public health and sociology.
Real-World Practical Experience
All Social Policy students complete a one-quarter internship for academic credit during their junior year, during which they put into practice the skills and knowledge introduced in the classroom. The experience also includes conducting social science research. The program is offered year-round in Chicago and during the summer in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Click here for more information about SESP undergraduate practicums.
Recent practicum sites have included:
- Health and Policy Medicine Research Group
- Senators Durbin and Obama’s office (Chicago and D.C.)
- The Sierra Club
- Public Defender or Attorney General Office
- Voices for Illinois Children
- U.S. Department of Education (D.C.)
- Association for Bay Area Governments (San Francisco)
- AIDS Health Project (San Francisco)
Flexible Course Work
In addition to core courses in life span development, research and statistics, students have the flexibility to tailor the program to their unique interests by creating an interdisciplinary specialization. Many students choose to double major or minor while maintaining social policy as their primary focus.
Faculty members utilize lectures, group work, case studies, presentations, field trips and guest speakers to educate students about the theory of policy development, the actual implementation of policy, and its impact on human lives. Students use theories and research skills learned in course work to propose solutions to real problems.
Students may pursue research apprenticeships and independent study opportunities with faculty members in the School of Education and Social Policy or the Institute for Policy Research. Faculty research projects include studies of welfare and poverty, community development, public opinion and policy, achievement gaps in education, homelessness and education reform.
Concentration coursework addresses topics such as:
- the intersection of politics and social policies
- child welfare and juvenile justice
- the role of the courts in social policies
- community organization and development
- disparities in education, housing, health, and other public programs or services
- economic models as they apply to public and private programs