The Institute of Policy Studies


Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 12.46.41 PM

GCAS Institute of Policy Studies

Director: Dr Benjamin Balak 

The Institute for Policy Studies is the explicitly applied program in the GCAS and will draw on the offerings of the other institutions in order to integrate them into a pluralistic program of action and intervention in the political-economy. It is therefore transdisciplinary in that it not only applies different disciplinary practices but integrates them synergistically to examine policy in its broadest sense.

Learn how politics and economics interact in theory and practice to shape policy throughout the world, and gain analytical and practical skills to intervene. Study how to analyze the tradeoffs made among competing values, ideologies, and interests when producing public policy. Acquire a broad understanding of major public policy debates as well as an understanding of the theoretical approaches of the various schools of thought involved. Finally, evaluate and criticize outcomes in order to be able to design more effective policies, and explore ways to make them a reality.


  • Understand underlying structures:

    • Conditions that encourage and discourage effective human social and political cooperation (e.g. theories of collective action and organizational behavior).

    • Institutions, processes, and incentives involved in shaping policy in the real world (e.g. investment theory of politics).

    • Media and propaganda: The rhetoric of economics and pop-economics, and how it is used.

  • Acquire a framework for formulating and evaluating normative social objectives, such as human rights, liberty, social justice, social responsibility, efficiency, opportunity, equality, and other central concepts of moral and political philosophy.

  • Learn some tools used to evaluate policies in terms of their efficacy in achieving given social objectives.

  • Apply the principles and skills to research and propose practical solutions to decision-making problems in the real world.

Note on Pedagogy:

The GCAS Institute of Policy Studies is an evolving institution within an evolving institution seeking to radically intervene in higher education. As such we are committed to responsive adaptability and change: a permanent revolution in which people interact in collaborative exchanges of experiential teaching and learning.

In other words: everything is subject to change but practices are in place to insure that participants can only be benefited from said changes.

Institute for Policy Studies Curriculum

(updated: 2023/7/3 subject to change)

Graduate Certificate (Starting Spring 2016)




2023 F&S

GCAS Series: Contemporary Critical Practices

(Core GCAS year-long course)



Real-World Pluralistic Economics

(Institute for Policy Studies core course)



Economics, Media, and Propaganda

(Institute for Policy Studies Institute core course)



Schools of Thought: Values, Ideologies, & Interests

(Institute for Policy Studies Institute core course)


Course in other institutes (director’s approval)

Independent Studies (director’s approval)



Candidates for the Graduate Certificate must:

  • Take the GCAS Series year-long course (6 credits)

  • Take at least three courses for a minimum total of 9 credits
    This can be done in either of the following ways:

    • All 9 credits can be earned by completing the 3 core courses of the Institution for Policy Studies (see table above).

    • Taking 1 or 2 of the Institute for Policy Studies Institute core courses (3 or 6 credits) and adding courses at other GCAS Institutes for a total of 9 credits.