To provide context for the area of study guidelines for area of study Public Affairs.
Area of Study Guidelines: This set of guidelines helps students plan their degree plans by spelling out what the academic world and many employers understand a particular concentration to mean. The guidelines are found in many academic publications.
Disciplinary — A program of study guided by the existing framework of a discipline.
Interdisciplinary — The simultaneous and interrelated study of two or more disciplines.
Problem Oriented — A program of study organized around a problem.
Professional/Vocational — A study which focuses on acquiring knowledge and skills needed for specific career performance and applications. It also entails inquiry into the conceptual foundations of the profession, the role of the professional in that career, and the relations between the profession and society at large.
Thematic — A program of study focusing on a particular theme or set of ideas.
Public Affairs is a broad label that has been used for more than 40 years in higher education and the professions to describe an “eclectic” and “interdisciplinary” approach to the study of organizations and individuals that operate in what is considered the public interest and the social issues and problems with which they are faced. Students who are currently employed in public service or those who aspire to careers in public service might be served by an area of study in Public Affairs. The area of study is designed for those who are interested in serving and bettering society through public service, civic engagement, political and government careers, public communications or non-profit service.
Studies and faculty in Public Affairs often rely upon “input from economics, psychology, sociology, planning, business administration, statistics, law, engineering, and environmental science, in addition to the traditional fields of public administration and political science. Mackelprang, A.J. and A. Lee Fritschler: “Graduate Education in Public Affairs/Public Administration,” 35 Public Administration Review 182-90 (Mar.-Apr. 1975).
Students interested in concentrations in such subjects or related subjects might consider Public Affairs as an Area of Study. Depending upon a student’s interest and focus, it might also be desirable or appropriate to consider a degree in Community and Human Services; Social Science; Business, Management and Economics; or Interdisciplinary Studies, however. An arts management concentration might also be a degree in The Arts; technology policy might come under a degree in either Science, Math and Technology or Business, Management and Economics.
Students with a degree in Public Affairs should demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following, as appropriate to the concentration. Students may address these competencies in various ways. They could be included in one or more studies or advanced standing components and might not necessarily appear as these explicit titles.
THEORETICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS:
The theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of subjects related to the student’s concentration should be explored. Knowledge of the philosophy of American government is essential for most students in Public Affairs.
HISTORICAL AND COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES:
Knowledge of the historical origins of American government and the public institutions that are central to the student’s concentration should be demonstrated. The student should also have an understanding of how these institutions compare to those of other countries, of other times or of jurisdictions within the United States.
LEGAL OR POLICY ENVIRONMENT:
Public institutions operate within a legal environment and are affected by – if not part of the process of creating – public policy. Students should demonstrate an understanding of how these factors affect their areas of concentration.
ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL OR BUDGETARY ISSUES:
Students in Public Affairs should understand the economic and financial environment in which they function.
The development of oral and/or written communications skills is important in all concentrations in Public Affairs.
RESEARCH SKILLS AND INFORMATION ANALYSIS:
Obtaining and evaluating information is a key skill for students in Public Affairs.
TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE:
For some students in Public Affairs, specific technical or scientific knowledge might be necessary.
The above competencies may be infused in a number of studies or courses; students need not demonstrate that they have a separate study or course in each area.
Public Affairs concentrations include, but are not limited to:
Government-related: Public Administration; Public Policy; American Government and Politics; Political Science ; International Affairs; Women in Government; Urban Planning Law-related: Criminal Justice; Legal Studies; Law, Justice and Society; Homeland Security; Social Justice and Peace Studies Communications: Public Communications; Journalism; Public Relations Health-related: Health Policy; Environmental Policy; Public Health Other: Emergency Management; Public History; Non-Profit Management and Leadership; Gender Policy; Technology Policy; Urban Affairs; Arts Management
These are examples of common majors or concentrations in colleges, schools and departments of public affairs in other institutions of higher learning. Many others may be appropriate concentration titles for a degree in Public Affairs, as well.
1 Mackelprang, A.J. and A. Lee Fritschler: “Graduate Education in Public Affairs/Public Administration,” 35 Public Administration Review 182-90 (Mar.-Apr. 1975)
Introduction to the Area of Study Guidelines