Policy requires politics:  behind every positive or negative decision governments make, there are elected politicians, politically skilled officials, journalists, and other stakeholders.  Understanding the world of politics is crucial to influencing and implementing policies for public health.  Indeed, it is impossible to understand public health policy outside of its political context.  This class presents the basic institutions and politics of contemporary public health policymaking through studies of institutions and contemporary policy debates.  Through analysis of case studies including obesity, state health plans, smoking and pharmaceutical regulations, students will explore the influence of politics on the definitions and decisions of public health issues.  They will leave the class with an understanding of how politics explains current public health policymaking debates and an improved ability to understand the politics of major public health policy issues.


Please view the course schedule for current advisory and/or enforced prerequisites.

Program Year



Course Number

HMP 685

Course Name

The Politics of Public Health Policy

Practice Area / Category