An important goal of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy is to disseminate ideas and concepts through teaching and outreach at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. There are a variety of courses at Cornell relating to infrastructure policy spanning a range of disciplines. Many of those courses are listed in the concentration in infrastructure offered through the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs.

MPA Infrastructure Concentration

The issues of population growth, rising living standards, urbanization, resource shortages, and an increasing focus on sustainability have made the imperative of building and maintaining our physical infrastructure more significantly challenging. The state of our transportation, water and sewer, power, and communications assets has a strong influence over how well and how responsibly we live. The Cornell Institute of Public Affairs (CIPA), recognizing this importance of infrastructure, and has established a concentration in this area to allow Master of Public Administration students to develop the skills and understanding to work in the areas of planning, implementation (i.e. financing and building) and operations. Building on CIPA’s tradition of a multi-disciplinary and flexible curriculum design, students can approach the broad area field of infrastructure from a number of number of perspectives, drawing on Cornell’s strengths in engineering, finance, planning, resource, policy analysis and sustainability studies. Students with this concentration will also have access to practitioners in the field of study and internship opportunities. MPA graduates with an infrastructure concentration will be well equipped to work in either the public and private sectors and between these two sectors.

Courses Taught

CRP 3850/6590
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Bikes):  Current Issues in Transportation Planning
Spring; Credits: 2 or 3
Visiting Lecturer: John Foote; (cell) 617-833-7252; 

Overview: Transportation is a critical aspect of planning. It is an essential element of our social and economic well-being and has a significant impact on our environment. This course will examine a variety of public policy issues that directly relate to how we plan, design, finance and manage our transportation infrastructure. In the context of roads, rail, public transit, and bikes, we will discuss:

  • the relationship between transportation and land use;
  • demand analysis and pricing strategies;
  • investment analysis;
  • the role of technology; and
  • sustainable transportation systems and livability. Each class will feature current real world issues that will be used as cases to illuminate assigned readings.

Texts: Several chapters in each of following texts will be assigned. Both of these texts are on reserve in the Fine Arts Library.

  1. The Geography of Urban Transportation, edited by Susan Hanson and Genevieve Giuliano (The Guilford Press, 2004).
  2. Essays in Transportation Economics and Policy, edited by John R. Meyer, Jose A. Gomez-Ibanez, Clifford Winston, and William B. Tye (Brookings, 1999).

Also, Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway, Matt Dellinger (Scribner, 2010). This book is on reserve and also available on Amazon.

Complimentary materials (journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, pod casts, etc.) will be assigned.

DEA 6250
Collaborative Sustainable Building Practice

This course is designed to respond to one of the biggest barriers for the transformation of the building sector from business-as-usual towards more sustainable, i.e. the fragmented delivery value chain and the complex stakeholder network involved in different stages of a building’s life-cycle. Key questions addressed in the course are, what are the underlying interests of various stakeholders in a building project, and what are effective tools, strategies, and processes to motivate and engage multiple stakeholders to create high-performance buildings to support sustainability, quality of life, and resilience building.

PAM 2470
Government and the Marketplace

Fall. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON 1110, PAM 2100 or equivalent. R. Geddes.

This course provides an overview of basic topics in the economics of regulation. It uses the tools of microeconomics to investigate the interaction between government and the marketplace, with an emphasis on how that interaction affects consumers. The rationale for and the effects of regulation of markets will be examined. Alternative theories of government intervention in the marketplace will be considered, including public interest theories such as externalities and public goods, as well as private interest theories such as redistribution and regulatory capture. The theories will be applied to specific types of regulation, including individual industry regulation (e.g. electricity, transportation, postal services, financial services), as well as broader social regulation (e.g. health, safety, environmental). Methods of government intervention including direct regulation, government enterprise, and the liability system, will also be considered. Current regulatory issues will be used as examples. Students will also become familiar with the major regulatory institutions and the distribution of regulatory responsibility between local, state and federal governments in the United States.

PAM 3340
Corporations, Shareholders, and Policy 

Fall. 3 credits. S-U or letter grade option. Prerequisites: ECON 1110, PAM 2000 and PAM 2100. R. Geddes. 

Uses economic analysis to study the interaction of the market, the corporation, and the law and how these interactions affect the well-being of shareholders and consumers. Examines the costs and benefits of the corporate form of organization. The legal institutions defining the corporation, such as limited liability and shareholder voting, are analyzed along with regulations governing these institutions. A particular focus is mechanisms that control the behavior of managers. Those mechanisms include hostile takeovers, insider trading, outside directors on the board, the role of large investors, and executive compensation plans. Additional topics include government ownership of corporations and nonprofit enterprises.