Law and Public Policy

About the MajorLady Justice - Law

The Political Science Department offers a major in Law and Public Policy that allows students to combine law and public policy classes, with an emphasis on ethics.  Many students are concerned about important challenges that face our society in the future such as climate change, availability of health care, budget deficits or the prevalence of terrorism.  When courts, executives, government agencies or legislatures are involved in trying to address such social problems, we call what they do "public policy."  Majors in Law and Public Policy will address policy issues by grappling with the following questions:

  1. What can we do?  (What are the legal and constitutional constraints that shape policy options?  What legal claims might be brought?  What existing laws already impact this issue?)
  2. How should we do it?  (How do we get this issue on the public agenda?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of different policy responses?  How might we formulate and implement effective public policies?  How can we measure their effectiveness?)
  3. What should we do?  (What tradeoffs in values are implicit in these legal and policy responses?  How do I analyze the competing views of what is best for society?  What incentives might our policy responses generate that would create moral hazards for either administrators or beneficiaries or both?)

In the Classroom

Students who major in Law and Public Policy will develop the skills in analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving, oral communication, writing and research needed to engage with these questions.

About the Minor

A minor in Law and Public Policy requires a student take the Law, Public Policy, and Ethics course, the U.S. Legal System course and four additional elective courses.

Departmental Honors

A Law and Public Policy majors must have 3.5 GPA overall, 3.6 in the major, must write an original research paper, which must also be presented at a scholarly conference (on or off the campus).

Outreach and Engaged Learning

Majors have the opportunity to participate in a number of organizations such as Pi Sigma Alpha and our local chapter of Upsilon Iota, that organizes, advertises, and participates in lecture series, discussion groups, attracting guest speakers, and a host of other activities. Other organizations include:

  • College Republicans
  • Young Democrats
  • Pre-Law Club
  • The Mercer International Affairs Organization (MIAO)
  • Mercer International Mock Conference Association (MIMCA)

Beyond Mercer

This major is not a "pre-law track" in the sense that students considering law school are required to take any of these courses.  This major is, however, particularly well-suited for students who intend to pursue professional or career interests in policy-related fields such as law, government, public administration, health care, non-government organizations, and non-profit groups.

Required Core Courses

POL 101:  American Government
PHI 180:  Logic and Language
PHI 195:  Introduction to Ethics
ECN 150 or 151:  Principles of Microeconomics or Macroeconomics

LPP 244:  Law, Public Policy, and Ethics
POL 295:  Research Methods
POL 337:  U.S. Legal System
POL 348 or POL 349:  Constitutional Law
LPP 400:  Junior Practicum
LPP 401:  Senior Research

Need More Information?

Contact the Program Director:

Lori A. Johnson, J.D., PhD.
Associate Professor of Political Science
Pre-Law Advisor
Tel:  (478) 301-2794
230 Langdale Hall