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What is Social Policy?

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. 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. Too few students complete high school, much less college. Racial disparities remain far too large. Middle-class families face 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 studying 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 Minor

Social policy is an interdisciplinary field to which the disciplines of economics, sociology, and political science contribute in equal measure. The social policy minor 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 those who plan to attend law school, programs in public health, or graduate school in the constituent social science fields.

In addition to coursework, students will choose one of two one-semester fellowships: the Washington, D.C. Policy Fellowship or the Baltimore Policy Fellowship. The fellowships will consist of an intensive semester of coursework at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and an internship.