The need for interdisciplinary approaches to complement
specialized training in undergraduate education has been widely recognized
both at Rice University and across academia in general. Many of society's
problems that Rice undergraduates will work to solve no longer are
self-contained but instead have spill-over affects across a broad
range of disciplines.
For example, students in highly technical, specialized sciences such
as bioengineering or environmental engineering also must have an understanding
of the social and political institutions and processes that both impact
and are impacted by their work. It is also clear that the institutions
Rice undergraduates will be working in are no longer narrowly defined;
success in these institutions will come to those who are well trained
in their specialty but who also have an understanding of the broader
networks that crisscross modern society.
Health care is another area where this is particularly evident. Successful
doctors and health care providers today must go beyond mastering the
technological aspects of medicine to understanding the broad and complex
socioeconomic matrix that surrounds health care. Students need the
opportunity for more than just exposure to concepts from outside their
discipline-they also need practice with their application.
The Policy Studies major provides students with such an opportunity.
Students gain useable knowledge that provides value-added benefits
in their future job performance. This has the benefit of providing
Rice students with a competitive advantage over students from other
schools as they enter the job force or continue on to professional
or graduate schools.
The major contains eleven courses. The curriculum in the Policy Studies
major has the following elements: a four class basic curriculum, a
six class area curriculum, and a final research project.