In Federalist #51, James Madison asked, "But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." America's Founders understood – centuries before there was ever a term, "public policy" – that the interaction of governing institutions and citizens must always comprehend the complexity of the human spirit.
While many policy programs emphasize the quantitative aspects of policy-making, since our own founding nearly two decades ago, the Pepperdine School of Public Policy has taken a uniquely comprehensive approach to graduate policy education. Our distinctive "James Q. Wilson Core" includes required coursework in ethics and the American Constitution along with rigorous quantitative classes in economics and statistical analysis. Beyond this foundation, we add a great variety of electives in subjects ranging from prudential international leadership to econometrics.
Public policy is not just something to be created; it must be implemented. And taken together – the quantitative and qualitative factors inherent in most every public decision – determine whether a policy will be sustained by that public.
From the local level to the global, public leaders today are faced with an array of challenges that often bring into question the legitimacy of institutions, and the role of citizens in solving public problems. Recent failures in governance demonstrate the need to look at public policy in a new way that understands the limits of government along with the opportunities for informed and engaged citizens.
Effective public leadership in the current environment demands a renewed appreciation of the philosophical and historical dimensions of public policy along with familiarity with the latest in quantitative analytical tools.
This is the unique preparation we offer students here at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, and why we can say from our breathtaking perch overlooking the Pacific Ocean that "you will see public policy differently from here."
Pete Peterson (MPP '07)
School of Public Policy