What Exactly is Public Policy?

Public policy is the study of policy-making:

  • how policies are and should be made to serve the public interest
  • how policies should be designed and implemented to have the desired impact on individuals and communities, and
  • how policies should be monitored and evaluated to see if they are having the desired impacts.

The field of policy analysis has become critically important as societies have grown more complex and as governments and public organizations increasingly play a more active role in addressing social problems and influencing the quality of people’s lives. Policies are increasingly developed on the basis of information about household and community behavior, and programs and projects are regularly subjected to scientific evaluations and assessments.

By its very nature, public policy is interdisciplinary in scope. Thus, for instance, health problems in society have to draw upon developments in philosophy, economics, political science, medicine, and ethics (among other disciplines). Likewise, science and technology policy has to be based on science, ethics, economics, and philosophy, among other disciplines.

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