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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 Brooks MPA Program.

MPA Infrastructure Concentration

The issues of population growth, rising living standards, urbanization, resource shortages, and an increasing focus on sustainability and social equity 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 Brooks MPA Program, 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 the Brooks MPA Programs’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.

The MPA Program also offers an Infrastructure Policy, Management and Finance certificate. This certificate program is designed for the student who is interested in working in the infrastructure space in a planning, finance, project management, and/or operations role post-graduation and/or wants to gain a deeper understanding of issues related to infrastructure. This program is not restricted to just Brooks MPA Program students, and is open to graduate students in public administration, planning, engineering, and business administration. Interested students should contact John Foote, Lecturer in Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy, at for more information.

Representative Infrastructure Courses

Regulation and Infrastructure Policy

This course focuses on the delivery of basic infrastructure including roads, bridges, tunnels, sea ports, airports, drinking water systems, wastewater treatment systems, and energy systems, among others. The provision of basic infrastructure is an important policy issue in both developed and developing countries. Infrastructure delivery includes the design, construction, operation, maintenance, funding, and financing of infrastructure facilities across array of economic sectors. We will examine a range of issues related to infrastructure policy, noting the distinction between alternative methods of funding versus financing infrastructure. Funding can come from user fees or more general tax revenue, as well as through innovative approaches such as tax-increment financing and value capture. Financing is relevant only once adequate funding is in place. We will examine creative contracting approaches in delivering infrastructure, such as public-private partnerships, or PPPs. We will also consider how the provision of infrastructure is regulated. That includes controlling market power in the pricing of services, ensuring proper asset maintenance and high service quality, as well as alternative organizational structures for delivery. We will examine theoretical approaches to infrastructure policy as well as case studies. A global perspective is maintained throughout. This course provides an overview of essential academic material related to infrastructure policy as well as an introduction to many potential employers in this area.

Infrastructure Finance

This course covers the fundamentals of finance and then moves through the process of evaluating and financing a project. We look at the investment decision associated with a public asset and then at various techniques and options to finance the asset. We also explore the public policy aspects of the design and implementation of a financing strategy. This course uses case studies that not only illustrate and provide practice in finance techniques and tools, but also require analysis of public policy questions that are central to the provision of public goods and services.

By the end of the semester students should be able to structure a financing of an infrastructure asset, and critically assess the pros and cons of various financing alternatives.

Infrastructure Practicum

This engaged learning course provides students with a first-hand look at the technical, social, economic and political dimensions associated with an actual infrastructure issue. Students learn about the methods, challenges and opportunities involved in planning, executing and maintaining public infrastructure. At the end of the practicum, participants prepare, as a group, a white paper that addresses a particular aspect of the issue. For prior practicum white papers, see

Government and the Marketplace

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.

Corporations, Shareholders, and Policy

This course 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.