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Design of Public Institutions

Students in this concentration apply organizational, political, and economic analysis to the study of policy-making and policy-implementing institutions. The emphasis is on the causes of differences in the performance of alternative forms of institutions, and on the social forces that influence the kinds of policy institutions that are adopted.
Advisors: Jonathan Bendor, Bruce Cain, John Cogan*, Stephen Haber, Rob Reich, Barry Weingast
Below is a list of suggested courses. The list includes classes that students have taken in the past to complete this particular concentration, as well as additional classes that may be considered toward this topic. Students may choose to take other courses, though all concentration courses must be discussed with and approved by the faculty adviser whether or not they are on the suggested list. Students may also propose directed reading, Overseas Studies (BOSP), and Bing Stanford in Washington (BSIW) courses.


  • COMM 164. The Psychology of Communication About Politics in America


  • ECON 111. Money and Banking 
  • ECON 112. Financial Markets and Institutions: Recent Developments
  • ECON 137. Decision Modeling and Information
  • ECON 141. Public Finance and Fiscal Policy 
  • ECON 160. Game Theory and Economic Applications

Human Biology

  • HUMBIO 120. Health Care in America: An Introduction to U.S. Health Policy

Political Science

  • POLISCI 120B. Campaigns, Voting, Media, and Elections
  • POLISCI 131L. Modern Political Thought: Machiavelli to Marx and Mill
  • POLISCI 225C. Fixing US Politics: Political Reform in Principle and Practice
  • POLISCI 236. Theories and Practices of Civil Society, Philanthropy, and the Nonprofit Sector
  • POLISCI 351A. Foundations of Political Economy 
  • POLISCI 351B. Economic Analysis of Political Institutions 

Public Policy

  • PUBLPOL 124. American Political Institutions in Uncertain Times
  • PUBLPOL 129. Conversations on the Indian Economy
  • PUBLPOL 132. The Politics of Policy Making
  • PUBLPOL 133. Political Power in American Cities
  • PUBLPOL 134. Ethis on the Eduge: Business, Non-Profit Organizations, Government, and Individuals
  • PUBLPOL 135. Regional Politics and Decision Making in Silicon Valley and the Greater Bay Area
  • PUBLPOL 154. Politics and Policy in California 
  • PUBLPOL 168. Global Organizations: The Matrix of Change
  • PUBLPOL 178. The Science and Practice of Effective Advocacy
  • PUBLPOL 225. Place-Making Policies


Stanford in Washington

Urban Studies

  • URBANST 111A. The Politics of the American City
  • URBANST 131. VIP: Very Impactful People - Social Innovation & the Social Entrepreneur
  • URBANST 132. Concepts and Analytic Skills for the Social Sector 
  • URBANST 133. Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory