Education for a Change

A A Email Print Share

Why Study Public Policy?

Those who study public policy examine how political processes create essential programs that work to change society. The Policy Center's students study such policy areas as:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Mediation
  • Reconciliation and peace-building
  • International relations and foreign policy
  • Human rights
  • Energy policy
  • Family services
  • Health care
  • Poverty
  • Religion and conflict

[Photo by Dr. Douglas Harper]

M.A. Snapshot:
Students Discuss their Research

Is Public Policy for Me?

A degree in public policy can prepare you for a career in many different settings, in the governmental, nonprofit, or for-profit sector.  The website describes 25 different career paths a public policy graduate might pursue.

Students come to the Policy Center at Duquesne University from a wide variety of undergraduate majors. Some have studied political science or sociology, but that is not necessary. What is essential is a commitment to making a difference in society.

At Duquesne we give students a broad look at policy—how it is formulated, how it becomes a reality, and how to evaluate it. We also combine policy with conflict resolution—which adds a unique and exciting dimension to our program. Policy programs at other Pittsburgh universities focus on the administrative or statistical aspects of policy development.

Policy in Pittsburgh

Why study policy in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is known worldwide for the strength of the public-private partnership that rebuilt the city after World War II from a grimy industrial city to a major educational, financial, medical, environmental, cultural and research center. Such dramatic changes brought enormous needs for planning and political innovation.

pittsburgh skyline

Pittsburghers responded, building a new downtown, replacing vacant factories with research facilities, rebuilding traditional neighborhoods, retraining displaced workers for new jobs, and creating innovative organizations to accomplish the above.

Policy Center students have worked in many of those organizations as Community Development Fellows or interns.  Many have found permanent employment in those organizations when they completed their studies.

These organizations run the gamut from public and nonprofit economic and workforce development to community development to social service organizations.  Many of Pittsburgh’s governmental and nonprofit organizations are known worldwide for their innovative approaches to making a difference in social and political conditions.  Pop City, a weekly e-magazine highlights news of Pittsburgh’s progressive public and nonprofit sectors.

Policy at Duquesne

Why study policy at Duquesne?

Pittsburgh's downtown with College Hall, the home of the Policy Center, in the foregroundThe Social and Public Policy program is distinguished by:

  • Small class sizes that allow for individualized attention from faculty.  
  • The program caters to students who work, so full-time enrollment is not required.  
  • A thesis option for M.A. students provides good preparation for professional opportunities.
  • The combination of Policy Analysis courses and Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies courses ioffers curricular breadth and depth.
  • Duquesne's location on a beautiful, safe, self-contained campus on the very edge of downtown Pittsburgh. You have the advantages of a true campus while enjoying easy access to the governmental and nonprofit organizations immediately next door.  

Duquesne's commitment to ethics and social justice is reflected in our faculty, their research and activist interests. This means that policy studies at Duquesne reflect the University’s call to:

“Seek truth and to disseminate knowledge within a moral and spiritual framework in order to prepare leaders distinguished not only by their academic and professional expertise but also by their ethical standards, and guided by consciences sensitive to human needs.”

Our Commitment:

At the Policy Center, we are committed to truths that serve a higher purpose, beyond probability ratios and cost/benefit analyses. We are committed to:

  • evaluating the ethical implications of policy
  • research and education that helps communities change for the better, both here in the local Pittsburgh area and in the remotest parts of the globe
  • education and training for a change.

Our faculty include:

  • a brigadier general in the U.S. Army (Dr. Lewis Irwin) and a captain in the U.S. Navy (Dr. Moni McIntyre)
  • a recognized expert on global energy markets (Dr. Kent Moors)
  • a former ethics consultant to the Navy Surgeon General (Dr. Moni McIntyre)
  • one of the pioneers of visual sociology (Dr. Douglas Harper)
  • the former director of Pittsburgh's Economic Development Department (Dr. Evan Stoddard)
  • a certified practitioner of the Inside-Out Program (Dr. Norman Conti)
    If you study public policy, you will learn how the world works.
    If you practice public policy, you can change how the world works.

    Learn more about being a graduate student at Duquesne University, including information on housing, parking, and student services, from our Graduate Admissions Web site.

    Mission & History

    Our Mission

    The Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy equips graduates with the analytic skills and ethical awareness needed for excellence in public-service organizations. The Center teaches students to resolve conflicts and social problems through policy and practice, whether local, state, regional, national or global.  Its interdisciplinary faculty is committed to social justice and the human consequences of policymaking and implementation.

    Our History

    Dr. Michael Weber, Graduate Dean, proposed bringing together the Departments of Political Science and Sociology to create a Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy to replace their existing M.A. programs.

    The Policy Center matriculated its first ten students.

    The Policy Center set up its first computer lab, with a grant from Westinghouse Electric.

    The Policy Center implemented a new curriculum, including Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies as a new concentration and certificate.
    Duquesne University awarded scholarships to bring students from war-torn African countries to study in the Policy Center.

    A number of Policy Center faculty members and students undertook projects and research as part of Duquesne University's pioneering Community Outreach Partnership Center in the Hill District and East Liberty.

    The Policy Center welcomed its first Peace Corps Fellows.

    The Policy Center welcomed its first IREX/Muskie Fellows from the former Soviet Union.

    1999 & 2000
    The Policy Center hosted USAID-funded summer workshops on peace-building in Cyprus for Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot students.

    The first faculty member to be assigned directly to the Policy Center began work.

    The Policy Center sponsored its first annual Conference on Public Policy and Conflict Resolution.

    The faculty made the Enhanced Research Paper an alternative to writing a thesis.
    Dr. Joseph Yenerall became the Policy Center's director.

    The Policy Center established an Energy Policy Research Group.

    The Policy Center co-sponsored "The Politics and Ethics of Welfare Reform" with the Center for the Study of Catholic Social Thought.
    Francis Fox Piven gave the keynote address at the Policy Center's fifth annual conference, "Poverty Policy."
    The Policy Center began an evaluation of "Project Search" for UPMC and Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh, with funding from Mitsubishi Corporation.

    The Policy Center's sixth annual conference focused on "Energy and Environmental Policy Issues."

    Dr. Charles Hanna became the Policy Center's director.

    Our Faculty

    Dr. Kent Moors with the Russian ambassador after briefing European diplomats at Windsor Castle, 2012Faculty of the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy come mainly from Duquesne University's Political Science and Sociology Departments, which collaborate in managing and teaching in the Center. Our faculty have a wide variety of research interests and impressive practical experience in social and public policy. Because of the range of their interests and expertise the faculty can and do oversee and contribute to students' research in many policy areas.

    The faculty are excellent and committed teachers. Classes are small, offering plenty of opportunity for close instruction and active participation.


    Clifford Bob, Ph.D., Political Science, MIT
    globalization, nongovernmental organizations, ethnic conflict, human rights

     Norman Conti, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
    policing, neighborhood development, social networks

     Pat Dunham, Ph.D., Political Science , Miami University (Ohio)
    Congress, the Presidency, voting behavior

     Mark L. Haas, Ph.D., Political Science & International Relations, University of Virginia
    foreign policy, international relations, international security

     Charles F. Hanna, Ph.D., Sociology, Kent State University
    policy evaluation,  social deviance, crime and punishment

    Douglas Harper, Ph.D., Sociology, Brandeis University
    urban housing, homelessness, agricultural policy, visual sociology

    Fr. John Sawicki congratulates Dr. Lew Irwin on his appointment as a U.S. Army brigadier general as Dr. Charlie Rubin looks on, 2012Lewis G. Irwin, Ph.D., Political Science, Yale University
    policy-making, policy analysis, public finance, defense, foreign policy

    Michael Irwin, Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    spatial processes, urban & community studies, demography, social ecology

    Daniel Lieberfeld, Ph.D., International Relations, Tufts University
    mediation, identity and culture in conflict, leadership in peacemaking

    Sarah MacMillen, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Notre Dame
    death and bereavement, social theory, religion, cultural sociology, political sociology

    Moni McIntyre, Ph.D., Theology & Christian Ethics, St. Michael’s College (Toronto, Ontario)
    health care ethics, feminist theology, ecological ethics, peacemaking

    Ann Marie Popp, Ph.D., Sociology, University at Albany
    crime, criminal justice, social inequality, urban policy

    Charles T. Rubin, Ph.D., Political Philosophy, Boston College
    environmentalism, technology, ethics and public policy

    Leslie Rubin, Ph.D., Political Philosophy, Boston College
    equality and liberty, ethics, literature and politics, political philosophy

    John Sawicki, Ph.D., C.S.Sp., Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University
    national security, counter-terrorism

    Matthew Schneirov, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
    popular culture, health and illness, contemporary social movements

    Jennie Schulze, Ph.D., Political Science, George Washington University
    international organizations, minority rights, minority integration, nationalism, kin-state politics, Baltic States, EU enlargement and post-communist transitions

    Our Graduates

    Dan Curtiss training Red Cross personnel on a ship in the MaldivesGraduates of the Policy Center are changing and improving conditions world-wide, in a wide variety of organizations and settings. They say that the knowledge and skills they learned in the Policy Center positioned them for the significant responsibilities they took when they finished their studies.

    Read what graduates say about how the Policy Center prepared them for their future.
    See some of the positions they secured.

    Some are changing conditions abroad. Learn more.

    Some are effecting change in the U.S. Learn more.

    Some pursued a Ph.D., to influence another generation of change agents. Learn more.