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Program sparks interest student, professors join

€The new undergraduate public policy program opened to both majors and minors this fall, and is already raising heads and interest all over campus.

“This is the ideal place for an undergraduate public policy program,” said Emery Roe, head of the new program. In describing his plan to build the “premier” undergraduate program in public policy, Roe laid out the reasons Mills’ newest major will be successful.

According to Roe, a lot of undergraduates have been demanding public policy in schools across the nation.

“You can’t talk about women without talking about public policy.” Women’s issues are policy issues, according to Roe.

Public policy is, by nature, interdisciplinary, and Mills has a reputation for providing a broad, liberal arts education. According to the public policy department’s new website, “the policy analysis toolkit remains interdisciplinary, but graduate programs have become specialized and professionalized… A liberal arts education is necessarily interdisciplinary and provides the foundation for the policy analysts’ contribution to citizenship and society.”

Roe also cited Mills’ multi-cultural surroundings and student body, pointing out that students at Mills are in a unique position to look at policy problems from the perspective of the people involved. Oakland is a city of people diverse in background, and different groups’ interests do not always overlap. Public policy students learn to examine the issues involved in creating policy while examining the differing needs of communities.

Roe came from U.C. Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources to head the public policy department at Mills. His professional interests are broad, and he has written on policy issues including environmental sciences, technology, rural development and agriculture, land use planning, and methods of policy analysis.

Students are already showing interest by declaring the public policy major. Sophomore Paula Galie said she chose the new major because she wants to tie her passion for environmentalism to her academic pursuits, so that she will be prepared for a career which includes policy making and analysis. “I chose the public policy major because I think public policy is the most effective way to institute changes that are important for the environment.”

Recently declared public policy major Inez Sunwoo said “I am excited because before this major, I was trying to transform other majors into what I wanted… Public policy will give me more room for other classes. I have a passion for educational reform, and the program makes allowances for people who want to bridge activism and career.”

Last semester, Marianne Sheldon, dean of social sciences, told the weekly “This is a very significant addition to the Mills curriculum. We live in a world that desperately needs women in leadership roles.” Mills is now the only women’s college in the United States to offer a multi-disciplinary public policy major.