International & Comparative Policy Studies

What is ICPS?

The program at Reed in international and comparative policy studies (ICPS) is designed to meet the academic needs of students interested in pursuing a major involving interdisciplinary work in the areas of globalization, international relations, comparative policy, and development. Course offerings reflect the interests of faculty members working in this general domain. Courses applicable to the ICPS major come from relevant areas within the departments of economics, history, political science, and sociology; students are expected to combine their ICPS course of study with work in one of these four departments, providing students with a firm disciplinary basis within the social sciences. ICPS majors will be identified respectively as ICPS–economics, ICPS–history, ICPS–political science, or ICPS–sociology

To be admitted to the ICPS program, a student must petition the ICPS Committee for acceptance to upper-division standing prior to declaring their major. The petition process is normally initiated in the second semester of the sophomore year, and must be submitted by the end of the fourth week of the first semester of the junior year. Since acceptance into the ICPS program is not automatic, applicants should be prepared to pursue an alternative course of study. 

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. ICPS 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.