While many career fields ebb and flow, public policy endures and evolves to respond to the ever-changing needs of the citizens it serves. The "public" nature of how we live and work is integrated into virtually every area of society. Effective Public Policy strategy promotes strong communities through a broad range of private, nonprofit, and government (elected office and staff practices and initiatives that advance the people’s interests. Public policy leaders have tremendous potential for positive impact.
How Does Public Policy Benefit Communities?
Through legislation, advocacy, and education, public policy leaders develop solutions for challenges facing communities. Community legal systems in the United States are organized by municipalities—a city, county, or town whose government policies are implemented by local officials—both elected and staff.
Local governmental authority is designated by the State, and public policies are designed for the well-being of citizens in the community. Local governments are typically responsible for services that benefit the community, such as:
- Parks and public recreation
- Police and fire protection
- Judicial systems
- Public works
The benefits of public policy in communities often result from the collaborative work of municipal governments, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses. Because policies in one area often overlap with other areas, leaders in this space require special skills in both identifying and making the tradeoffs needed to create successful solutions. These same leaders must be able to work with many, diverse and often conflicting constituencies. Effective leaders collaborate with this diversity to build coalitions and solutions that leverage the best in every community.
Creating Safety and Security
Feeling safe at home and work is foundational to success in education, vocation, and social engagement. While local governments hold significant accountability for public policy’s role in community services such as crime prevention, disaster response, and court systems, comprehensive frameworks are a cooperative effort. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) recommends a “coalition of partners” for engagement in public safety.
Public policy safety and security matters also extend beyond law enforcement and emergency services. Policies related to public works, such as sanitation and street safety, are vital to the security of communities. Housing policies affect government-subsidized housing and the concerns of all residential neighborhoods related to issues such as public school zoning and environmental hazards. For any safety and security concerns in a community, understanding public policy is crucial to developing solutions.
Encouraging Economic Prosperity
The economic status of a community impacts the quality of life for residents and has far-reaching consequences in many facets of community life. The Brookings Institution links economic conditions to levels of community violence . The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has associated local economic conditions with physical health . Local systems that create and sustain employment keep more citizens actively participating in the economy and foster individual and family well-being. Public policies at the local level, such as tax structures, budgeting, and employment regulations, directly affect the economic prosperity of a community. Effective cooperation among governments and private sector leaders can generate economic development that moves communities forward.
Promoting Health and Wellness
Factors such as nutrition security, access to recreational spaces, and affordable healthcare significantly affect the health of communities. According to the Public Health Institute, “zip code is a better predictor of health than genetic code.” Life expectancy differences have been identified at the zip code level.
Public policy can positively impact the health of community residents through programs such as the distribution of vaccines, environmental regulations, and fitness programs in schools. Community development partnerships enhance the effect of public policy through advocacy, education, and other health initiatives not provided by the government. Leaders with expertise in public policy from different spheres of community life can work together to navigate local health challenges and solve problems together.
How Can You Impact Your Community through Public Policy?
Professionals working in a myriad of settings such as local governments, education, nonprofits, and businesses affect public policy development in communities in many different and complementary ways.
Government officials establish, implement, or enforce policies for the good of the community. Leaders in nonprofit organizations such as churches, foundations, and think tanks strengthen or supplement these public policy benefits through creative initiatives in pursuit of their respective missions. Educational leaders provide innovative and socially conscious perspectives to lead change and progress. Community-minded business leaders contribute to the welfare of local people through economic development and programs to give back to the community.
These are just a few of the vocational paths for community impact through the Master of Public Policy and Leadership:
- City or county manager: Direct operations for a local government
- Community service manager: Plan programs that support public initiatives
- Public relations manager: Develop an organization’s identity with targeted audiences
- Corporate social worker: Implement community development actions for a business
- Nonprofit executive: Plan and implement organizational strategy
- Education policy analyst: Review policies related to local school systems
- Political scientist: Study public opinion and current issues to equip policymakers
- Public information officer: Analyze data to inform policy decisions
- Elected official: Represent local populations in legislative, judicial, and executive government
Elevate Your Community Impact with Pepperdine School of Public Policy
The pathway to public policy careers is often through experience and advanced education. An online Master of Public Policy and Leadership degree provides the knowledge and skills vital in today’s leading roles for community impact. Pursuing this online master’s degree allows students optimal flexibility to continue working while in school. Earning this respected credential also sets candidates apart in a competitive job market.
The online Master of Public Policy and Leadership degree from Pepperdine School of Public Policy emphasizes an innovative approach to community building. Students learn to evaluate available resources, consider diverse viewpoints, and act on behalf of populations served. The online program is supported by modern learning technologies and best practices that bring Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s world-class faculty to the virtual learning experience.
Students complete this online master’s degree from Pepperdine School of Public Policy by stacking the Public Policy Leadership core graduate certificate with one of the following specialized graduate certificates:
- Public Policy Leadership Certificate (Core) : Examine the core principles of leadership, people-focused policy development, and the dynamics between the public and private sectors in a changing global economy.
- Leadership, Advocacy, and Policy Communications Certificate : Understand how public opinion is formed and how to communicate effectively in the contemporary media context.
- Education Policy Leadership and Innovation Certificate : Develop the skills for strategic problem-solving in educational systems.
- Local Government Leadership and Innovation Certificate : Explore the role of citizens and the scope of public policy within communities.
Pepperdine University is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Top 50 National Universities in the United States. More than 1,000 Public Policy graduates from Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy are serving communities worldwide through roles in government, nonprofit, and private enterprises.
Interested in studying on-campus? Learn more about the on-ground Master of Public Policy program we offer at our Malibu campus.