Policy Studies

Do you want your career to have impact?
Are you interested in achieving a more sustainable society?
Do you want to study with people who share your passion?

Discover how to make change happen with a degree in Policy Studies! With a focus on sustainability, our degree program equips you with the knowledge, insights, and skills to make a difference in your communities and beyond.

Graduates from the Policy Studies program will contribute to society’s well-being, able to promote community goals like increasing urban agriculture and protecting urban ecosystems. Policy Studies skills can also be used in the private sector, where there is a growing demand for people capable of developing a corporate sustainability strategy or starting a green business.

Sustainability initiatives that have gained in popularity and importance include:

  • Urban Agriculture
  • Bike Lanes & Light Rail
  • Affordable Housing & Net-Zero Buildings
  • Alternative Energy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Green Entrepreneurship & Clean Technology

Sustainability policy can make these innovations a reality and you can be part of these changes with a degree in Policy Studies.

The major and minor in Policy Studies are both interdisciplinary and applied. During the degree, you will work with sustainability policy practitioners on current community-based projects. At the same time, you will learn about policy from the perspective of economics, environmental studies, philosophy, political science, and psychology, developing the critical and ethical thinking skills necessary to successfully engage with key sustainability issues.

For KPU students who are already declared in a different program, the Policy Studies minor enables you to discover and build on your passion for sustainability and sustainability policy.  Whether you are in political science, geography, philosophy, sustainable agriculture, urban ecosystems, or another KPU program, you can add the Policy Studies minor to your credential.  Please speak with your academic advisor about this option.

Who Studies Policy Studies?

Successful students in Policy Studies are looking for a field of study that allows them to engage with challenging sustainability problems, such as those related to climate change, environmental degradation and urbanization. Our students share a desire to apply their theoretical learning to practical problem-solving as well as a passion to bring about positive change.

Department's website: kpu.ca/arts/policy-studies

Policy Studies graduates will begin rewarding careers as policy analysts, sustainability researchers, sustainability program coordinators or consultants with all levels of government, as well as not-for-profit organizations and the private sector.

Graduates of this interdisciplinary degree will also be ready to succeed in further studies at graduate school or law school.

Registration in some course sections is restricted to students in particular programs. See Timetables - kpu.ca/registration/timetables - for current section information.

Visit the BC Transfer Guide - bctransferguide.ca - for information about course transfer in B.C.

POST 1100  3 credits  
Sustainability and Ethics  

Students will examine various concepts of sustainability. They will explore evaluation methods including ethical reasoning, and may include other approaches such as game theory, cognitive science, and behavioural economics. Students will evaluate key sustainability policy issues such as climate change, global and intergenerational inequalities, and decolonization. Note: This course is cross-listed with PHIL 1111. Students may not get credit for both courses. Students in the Policy Studies (POST) program must take POST 1100.

Level: UG

Cross-listing: PHIL 1111

Attributes: ASTR, ARTS

POST 2140  3 credits  
CityLab3 - Rethinking Community  

Students will explore sustainability and develop leadership and civic skills by working on projects relevant to community partners. Students will think critically about community and/or project goals, imagining and evaluating possibilities for change. Using team-based processes, students will explore the community through field trips and research, generate, analyze and present sustainability ideas, practices and/or projects.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits of courses at the 1100 level or higher

Attributes: ASTR, ARTS

POST 2150  6 credits  
CityLab6 Cultivating Community  

Using the Surrey community as a classroom, students explore sustainability through field trips and investigations, and identify community needs. Students engage in complex thinking about community values and goals, and (re-)imagine possibilities for change. Students research and apply best practices and generate sustainability ideas through team-based design processes. In collaboration with city staff and/or community organizations and members, students develop and present goals, proposals and implementation plans that further community sustainability. Students evaluate their projects and when possible implement them.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 15 credits at the 1100 level or higher.

Attributes: ASTR, ARTS

POST 2200  3 credits  
Collective Power: Taking Action on Public Issues  

This course examines how governments respond to pressure for collective social change and a sustainable future, within a Canadian context. Using historical and current case studies such as Indigenous sovereignty, racial justice, environmental policy, and the climate emergency, students will examine sustainability goals, the policy cycle and a range of collective action tools. Students will explore the roles, powers, and relationships between activists, citizens, public servants, think tanks, decision-makers, and Indigenous Nations. Students will learn to design a public policy intervention.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 9 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher.

Attributes: ASTR, ARTS

POST 2900  3 credits  
Special Topics  

Students will explore a selected topic in policy and/or sustainability. They will conduct research to develop an understanding of the topic. Note: This is a lecture-based course with extensive class discussion. The area of study will be established in advance by the department. Students may take this course twice on different topics. It is recommended that students take POST 1100.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher

Attributes: ASTR, ARTS

POST 3110  3 credits  
Applied Sustainability Seminar  

Working with a community partner, students will investigate a sustainability challenge with a focus on public policy solutions. Students will examine evidence and case studies; explore goals and possible solutions; compare and evaluate policy tools; and, advance recommendations for change. They will produce professional quality reports and presentations. Students will develop insight into the practical difficulties of decision-making and policy development as it applies to real-life situations such as the climate emergency, equity issues such as racial justice, or urban biodiversity.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 45 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher

Attribute: ARTS

POST 3300  3 credits  
Sustainability Challenges: Public Policy and the Common Good  

In the neoliberal era, one where globalization and transnational capital continues to dominate our lives, the role of government, its sovereign ability to act in the interests of citizens, and the concept of public interest are being re-examined. In this course, students will explore two central issues critical to sustainability: what notion and scope of "public good" should direct government policy, and is the public good best achieved through government control, private interests or a combination of the two.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 30 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher

Attribute: ARTS

POST 4110  3 credits  
Applied Public Policy Seminar  

Students will examine complex public policy issues with a focus on sustainability, such as the climate emergency, the housing crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and Indigenous sovereignty. They will study theories of change, applied to current political events and issues. Students will explore how equity, jurisdiction, stakeholder analysis and other evaluation tools are integrated into decision-making. Students will produce professional deliverables, including recommendations for action. They will develop their own position on a topic, and engage with the real world as a change agent. NOTE: Students may earn credit for only one of POLI 4110 or POST 4110 as they are identical courses.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 45 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher, including one of POST 3110, POST 3300 or any course in POLI at the 3000 level

Cross-listing: POLI 4110

Attribute: ARTS

POST 4150  3 credits  
Psychology and Sustainability: Attitudes and Behaviour  

Students will explore the challenges involved in changing attitudes and behaviour as it pertains to sustainability policy. They will examine the foundations of attitudes, how they are formed, changed and their relationship to behaviour. Students will also learn what makes persuasion campaigns effective, as well as individual and social factors that interfere with attitude-behaviour consistency. They will learn to apply this knowledge to the evaluation of sustainability policy designed to change attitudes and behaviour. Note (1): This course is a requirement for the BA in Policy Studies. For Psychology students this course counts as a general elective not a Psychology Major/Minor credit. Note (2): This course is cross-listed as PSYC 4150. Students who have taken PSYC 4150 may not register for this course. Students may earn credits from only one of POST 4150 or PSYC 4150.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 60 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher

Cross-listing: PSYC 4150

Attribute: ARTS

POST 4900  3 credits  
Special Topics  

Students will examine a selected topic in policy studies and/or sustainability. They will critically analyze relevant literature and develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Students will examine and evaluate recent developments in the specific field, assess the implications of these developments, and identify future directions of research or policy development. Note: This is a seminar course. The area of study will be established in advance by the department. Students may take this course up to three times on different topics.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): 45 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher

Attribute: ARTS

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