International & Comparative Policy Studies Program

What is ICPS?

ICPS is a program for students interested in interdisciplinary work in the areas of international relations, comparative policy analysis and international economics. For this kind of study, you need an historical understanding of the international system. You should be able to work comfortably with basic qualitative and quantitative methods necessary for your area of inquiry. You also need a solid disciplinary foundation in a home department, usually economics, political science or history. All ICPS majors take the Junior Qualifying Examination in their home department before they take the Junior Qualifying Examination of the ICPS Committee.

Is ICPS a department?

ICPS is not a department, but an interdisciplinary committee composed of faculty from the Division of History and Social Sciences. Like a department, the Committee monitors your progress in meeting your degree requirements. Unlike a department, the courses offered reflect the interests of faculty participating in the general domain of ICPS and reside in different departments. Since each ICPS major tailors a program according to a particular subject area, there is no official list of ICPS-approved courses to select from apart from the courses listed under the ICPS Core Requirements. Rather, these courses are approved on a case-by-case basis by the ICPS Committee as meeting ICPS requirements.  ICPS, in other words, is not a substitute for a department; rather, it guides a student through a home department in a particular way.

Does ICPS require focusing on particular areas of the world?

While you can certainly focus on any country or region of your choice in the course of your study, the ICPS program does not require that you do so. What the ICPS Committee requires is that you develop a range of analytical skills to study international or comparative policy issues in any area of the world.

Is ICPS multicultural studies?

No. Nevertheless, our students do study many different societies. In addition, they also study them using techniques borrowed from a variety of disciplines. But they do so as political scientists, economists, historians, sociologists or anthropologists. This means they bring to their research the kinds of questions and puzzles that characterize their disciplines.

Is ICPS an International Affairs Department?

Other institutions often have departments that focus on the grand theories of international relations. For them, this is the common core of a discipline entitled “International Affairs.” The ICPS program, however, draws a distinction between what is studied (international affairs) and the disciplines required to study it. We are political scientists, historians or economists who are interested in international affairs, but we are not professors of international affairs.

What else is special about the ICPS program?

As far as we know, we are the only program in the region that emphasizes the study of international policy. We are also special in that we give a prominent place to the use and application of the comparative method in the program.

How do I become an ICPS major?

First, chose a home department and arrange an academic advisor there. This department will be your home base as you reach out to learn about other issues in other disciplines. You will take your Junior Qual in this department whether you are an ICPS major or not. In conjunction with your adviser, during your sophomore year you should discuss the options you have. Sometimes it does make more sense to choose a regular major rather than ICPS (see below). If you do decide to pursue an ICPS major, write down your reasons for your planned course of action. List your concrete educational goals, as well as the courses you plan to take in your junior and senior years. Then review it with your adviser and the Chair of the ICPS Committee. Once you have a proper petition, propose it to the ICPS Committee. You should know, however, that the ICPS Committee might advise you that your interests are best served by continuing your major in your home department.