America is faced with a number of important social problems that pose difficult challenges to our society. Too many Americans are trapped in cycles of poverty and disadvantage, living in areas with serious crime and drug problems. Schools in poor neighborhoods struggle to prepare children for the kinds of jobs the labor market demands, and too few students complete high school, much less college. Racial disparities remain far too large. Middle-class families face their own problems of unemployment, changing workplaces with new types of jobs, and finding good schools for their children. Our home, the city of Baltimore, is a particularly appropriate place for immersion in the study of the causes and consequences of urban poverty. In addition, Johns Hopkins lies in close proximity to Washington, D.C., the center of government activity as well as think tanks and foundations that generate much of the debate that surrounds social policy in America.
Social policy is the study of policy solutions to the problems of education, inequality, poverty, crime, and other issues faced by society’s families and children. It is an interdisciplinary field to which the disciplines of economics, sociology, and political science contribute in equal measure. It is a basic-science field with a strong applied-research focus that can prepare students for careers in government, nonprofits, and the private sector. Students who undertake the social policy minor will work with faculty who are experts in the study of poverty, the labor market, social demography, family structure, educational inequality, political participation, organizational dynamics, and health and welfare policy. They will be strongly grounded in social science training and will apply that training to real-world applications and policies. In the minor, students will be motivated to think about how knowledge translates into policy solutions, making this an appropriate specialization for young people who plan to attend law school, programs in public health, or graduate school in the constituent social science fields.
Our program is just beginning, but we look forward to bringing together a community of faculty and students and practitioners with a common focus and commitment to research, teaching, and learning in the field of social policy.