Policy Management Major Ending at End of Semester

Claire Jeantheau ’21, Staff Writer

Recent challenges in faculty availability will lead to an elimination, at least temporarily, of the policy management major. 

Since its beginning in 1982, the policy studies department at Dickinson has seen several iterations, leading to its current division between the law and policy and policy management majors. 

James Hoefler, professor of political science and chair of the policy studies department, said that the policy management program will be ending after the spring 2019 semester due to significant demands on a limited group of faculty. Besides competing teaching commitments, the move to a five-course teaching load has proved to be a strain. There is a possibility for a later reinstatement of the major, but only after these issues have been resolved. 

“We’re stretched too thin,” Hoefler said. “Some people are retiring, or will retire, and then we’ve got all these certificate programs that I and others are involved in, like social innovation and entrepreneurship, health studies, international studies. They’re kind of pulling all of us who have contributed to this one program off in different places.” 

According to Hoefler, student interest is far from a problem within the policy management major, with 54 students currently declared. The size of its major pool rises above the law and policy major, which has 34 declared majors. Hoefler added that students who have already declared the major will be able to stay on course to graduate with it, although interested students will need to reach a decision soon. 

“This year is the last year that you can start the policy management major,” Hoefler said. “So if you’re not in the gateway foundations course right now, you won’t be able to start it next year.” 

Elizabeth Imphong ’21, a double major in English and policy management, was affected by the new requirement that students take the foundations course this spring before declaring. “I think it is unfortunate that the major is ending, because policy management is such a uniquely creative department,” Imphong said. “Policy management is also the only major that prepares students for careers in public policy and non-profit management.”

Nicole Beidleman ’20, who declared her major in policy management last year, also has negative feelings about the end of the program. 

“I am disappointed that the program may be ending,” Beidleman said.  “When I tell people on campus I am a policy management major, people always respond that it’s a really great major.”  

Hoefler described the previous division between the law and policy programs as one based in specialization—the former track has a greater focus on legal systems. He believes that people were drawn to the policy management major for its real-world applicability. 

“All of the iterations [of the policy program] have to do with complex problem solving in a policy context. […] People just have so many different ways they want to go with their life, and this is the one major that I think speaks to a lot of different people, that I think gives them a pre-professional sort of orientation, and helps them get out into the productive workforce,” Hoefler said.