Kindling curiosity: Expanding horizons through public policy

Mehroz Mohammed

By Mehroz Mohammed

Ever since I started at UIC, I’ve always heard alumni and even fellow students talk about the one-of-a-kind experience given to us in terms of academics. I didn’t fully understand what was meant by this “one-of-a-kind-experience” until I took my first public policy class here at UIC.

Thinking back to my first public policy class, it’s always funny to me that I took the class with the purpose of it being a “filler” — my last attempt to reach my credit requirements for that semester. However, it’s fair to say that the class catapulted me into the realm of public policy.

When it comes to the actual in-class experience, I personally believe that course descriptions do no justice to the student experience in any of the public policy classes. For starters, each class is a mix of traditional students as well as nontraditional students who’ve had experiences in campaign work, lobbying or have returned to school to further their education.

Though at first it was intimidating to be one of the youngest students, I quickly found that this helped create a wide spectrum of ideas through which we were able to have pressing, yet very in-depth, discussions. Additionally, it was interesting to have conversations with students who had done outside work and returned to school as it really gave a look into real-life applications of policy and how it governs the world around us. This being said, there has to be credit given to the amazing professors at the College of Urban Planning and Public Administration (CUPPA) who take their time to expand course material beyond the classroom, allowing students to make deeper connection with the material at hand.

Being a criminology, law and justice major, I’ve also found that many of the concepts that are touched upon in the public policy courses have broader applications and essentially bridge together the information that I learn in my major courses. However, policy really applies to any subject of interest. Interested in art? Learn how policy has shaped the way in which art and recreation is financed. Interested in education? Find out how and why the Chicago Public Schools are failing. The possibilities are endless.

So whether you’re a first-year student looking to fulfill some general education courses or just looking for some 200-level electives, I highly suggest looking into the public policy classes as an option. As a fellow student, I guarantee you’ll learn something fascinating.

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