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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2006




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Ford School to offer undergrad degree

A new undergraduate program will enable students to earn a bachelor's degree from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The program was approved by the Board of Regents in December and this month received final approval by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.

Students will apply to the program during their sophomore year, and if admitted will transfer into the Ford School for their final two years. The school, which currently offers professional master's and doctoral degrees, will accept applications for the undergraduate program beginning winter 2006 and will welcome its first class of juniors in fall 2007.

John Chamberlin, professor of public policy and political science who is overseeing the program's establishment, says 50 juniors would be accepted into the program each fall. The school currently has about 200 students and 35 faculty members. Several new faculty members will be hired as the undergraduate program moves forward.

"An undergraduate program in public policy will reinforce the University's commitment to the missions of teaching, research and service related to public affairs," says Ford School Dean Rebecca Blank.

The Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy will be a multi-disciplinary social science degree program that emphasizes the analysis of contemporary public policy issues. The proposed degree will combine core coursework in economics, political science and statistics with policy electives and integrative policy seminars that provide opportunities for students to work together in teams to apply their skills in the analysis of both domestic and international policy problems.

"I am excited about the opportunities that the BA program will provide for its students," Chamberlin says. "We hope to recruit a group of students who will make up a small and engaged learning community, students who bring to the program a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, intellectual perspectives, policy interests and career aspirations."

New courses for the degree program will be open to other U-M students, enriching the offerings available to all undergraduates. An introductory course will expose students to public policy analysis and will be required for those who wish to become public policy majors.

This course, open to all undergraduates in fall 2006, is entitled "Public Policy 201: Systematic Thinking About Problems of the Day," and will be taught by former provost Paul N. Courant, professor of public policy and economics.

Discussion of Ford School involvement in undergraduate education began in 2000, soon after Blank became the school's dean. The approved program is the result of planning efforts during the last several years that included the Ford School faculty and staff as well as members of the Office of the Provost and the LSA dean's office.

In August faculty and program staff will move into the five-story, 80,000-square-foot Weill Hall, at the northeast corner of State and Hill streets.

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