University of Iowa offers new public policy and urban studies minors

The University of Iowa will begin offering two new minors in public policy and urban studies starting this semester.

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Raquele Decker

A maple tree is seen in front of the Old Capitol on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.

Alliyah Lipsit, News Reporter


Starting this semester, the University of Iowa will offer undergraduates the ability to minor in public policy and urban studies.

UI students are allowed to declare either minor regardless of their current major.

“We are facing many pressing challenges in our society that call for public policy solutions,” said Haifeng Qian, associate and interim director of the School of Planning and Public Affairs.

The public policy minor is suitable for students who are interested in changing society, Qian said.

“The minor allows them to systematically understand why public policies are needed, what are the impacts of past and current policies, how new policies are developed to meet societal goals, and how policies are adopted and implemented at the federal, state, and local levels,” Qian said.

As for the urban studies minor, Qian said students will learn how to better understand the process of developing innovative solutions for urban issues like housing, economic development, social justice, and sustainability.

“The Urban Studies Minor prepares students with knowledge and skills to build resilient, inclusive, and prosperous cities,” Qian said.

Students can begin declaring these minors right now if they want, School of Planning and Public Affairs Director Luci Laurian said.

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The two new minors are housed under the School of Planning and Public Affairs.

Laurian, who spearheaded the creation of the new minors, said students also have the option to simply take the classes required for the minors, but opt out of declaring until they know whether or not it’s suitable for them.

“I want the community to know it’s okay to explore, and it’s okay to try a field you may not be interested in, without even declaring a minor,” Laurian said. “So students can just take the classes without declaring the minor and then decide if they want to do it they can declare later.”

Because she is currently on professional development leave, Laurian said she also had help from Qian, who now serves as interim director in place of her, to create the majors. Qian helped set up the minor curriculum and revise the minor degree description.

Anne Barber, UI School of Public Affairs admissions coordinator, serves as the adviser for both minors. She reiterated the need to fill a gap in course offerings because of the School of Planning and Public Affairs’ lack of undergraduate degrees, despite the fact that the school offers courses to undergraduates.

“This is a great way for students that are interested in the types of study that our programs offer to take advantage,” Barber said.

Qian said the minors were developed not only as a way to allow UI students to explore career fields they may not have been able to explore otherwise, but also to fill gaps in the curriculum.

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