Master of Public Policy (MPP)

Our Commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Female students wearing glasses in class

As an MPP program focused on social policy, we prepare students to address social injustice and strive to walk the talk in our program’s curriculum, activities, policies, and culture. We are committed to nurturing belonging and affirmation for every MPP student and aspire to build a program centered on equity, inclusion and diversity (EID). Meeting these aspirations is an ongoing priority.

Representation in the Curriculum and the Classroom

Our commitment to EID takes many forms. With each new cohort, we set the stage for constructive dialogue and thoughtful analysis of social justice issues by assigning a summer reading for incoming students. For the last several years, the book has been The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander. MPP alumni of color lead the new cohort in a book discussion at orientation in August.

MPP students also take a required course on Social Policy and Management Through the Lens of Equity and at least one additional course that explores EID topics, such as immigration policy, criminal legal system disparitiesLGBTQ+ justice, disability policy, gender, and more. All MPP students write a policy brief on a topic of their own choosing as part of their capstone course in the last semester before graduation. Many students choose a topic focused on issues related to EID. Recent capstone presentations explored policy solutions related to LGBTQIA+ health disparities, substance use disorder treatment for incarcerated individuals, reforming state tax credits for immigrant families, and improving paid family leave policy.

The core MPP curriculum and concentration courses also explore issues of institutional racism, various forms of oppression and privilege as they impact opportunity and social welfare policy development. Our faculty strive to incorporate readings and texts by scholars of diverse backgrounds, as well as welcoming leaders and policymakers from underrepresented communities into the classroom as guest speakers. Faculty work with colleagues and our Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity to continue to expand the voices and experiences offered in the classroom.

Our faculty aspire to build a classroom environment where all can learn and contribute, while also digging into critical conversations about power, equity, and the policy structures that perpetuate injustice. To that end, the MPP program prioritizes training and skill-building opportunities for faculty to develop discussion, facilitation, and instructional techniques that foster an equitable learning experience for all students. 

The Student Experience

Student and alumni input are critical to continuous improvement. As a school and program, we strive to recruit and admit diverse cohorts of students that reflect our broader community. The MPP program includes student voices in its governance and programming. The program hosts Town Hall Meetings for each cohort every semester, to actively solicit feedback about the program and individual courses. Students also elect representatives to the MPP Student Association (MPPSA). A student chair from each cohort attends monthly program meetings, which integrates student voices and ideas into programmatic decision-making.

The MPP program also hosts regular gatherings for MPP students of color, hosted by a faculty member of color who is also a Heller alumnus. These meetings, in addition to other cross-Heller and cross-Brandeis affinity groups, provide space to discuss common concerns and find support when needed. 

The MPP faculty and staff strive to create a learning environment where every student feels like they belong in the program, at Heller, and at Brandeis. This requires persistent focus, dedication and continuous improvements. This work is essential to putting into practice our ideal of knowledge advancing social justice and is essential to supporting our students’ abilities to have a significant impact in their policy areas of interest.