Spotlight: The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia
February 24, 2015 03:35 PM
The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia is situated in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia – two hours from the nation’s capital and an hour from Virginia’s state capital, Richmond. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, U.Va.’s location offers students access to real-world clients and research opportunities while providing an immersive, full-time residential setting. Outside of the Beltway, students see problems through a different lens and engage with prominent guest speakers in open discussion. Small by design, the School offers a strong sense of community and personalized experience.
The School is made possible by a generous gift from the late Frank Batten, Sr., who was the chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications Inc. and founder of The Weather Channel. In establishing his founding gift, Batten expressed his noble goals for the School, its students and graduates:
“Never has there been a greater need for the University's most important product: enlightened and ethical leaders who leave Grounds prepared for public life--in their communities, in their professions, in the world at large.”
Leadership at the Core
The Batten School develops leaders and generates new knowledge to solve the world’s toughest public policy challenges. Through policy and analysis training in critical leadership skills, the school inspires students to act vigorously, effectively and ethically on behalf of the common good. The School teaches that policy is everywhere, and students can lead from anywhere.
The Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program includes courses that incorporate the analytical and research tools essential for policy analysis; civic leadership; the historical, political and ethical contexts of public policy; and courses that apply these analytic and leadership skills to real-world problems. In addition, students are required to pursue a summer internship between the first and second years of the program. They also enroll in elective courses offered by the Batten School and other U.Va. schools. The capstone of the program is the Applied Policy Project, in which students serve as consultants for real-world clients.
The Batten School also offers multiple dual degree options which allow students to complete two programs simultaneously, pairing disciplines from across U.Va.’s top-ranked graduate programs in less time than it would take to complete them individually. Batten offers five dual degree options:
MPP/JD – with the School of Law
MPP/MBA – with the Darden School of Business
MPP/PhD – with the Curry School of Education
MPP/MPH – with the School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences
MPP/MUEP – with the School of Architecture
Open to current U.Va. undergraduates from all majors, the Accelerated Bachelor/MPP Program allows admitted students to complete both a bachelor's degree and an MPP degree in five years, rather than the normal six.
The Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Leadership, a competitive, interdisciplinary liberal-arts degree housed in a professional school, prepares graduates for a life of civic engagement. This degree allows for easy progression to a variety of careers in the government, education, nonprofit and private sectors, as well as advanced degree programs in law, business, journalism and the social sciences.
Social Entrepreneurship Initiative
Professor Christine Mahoney spearheads the pan-university Social Entrepreneurship @U.Va. Initiative, which links multiple disciplines and schools together to bring entrepreneurial thinking to social ventures, NGOs and government institutions. The Initiative sponsors numerous in-classroom and hands-on project-based courses, hosts a lecture series and sponsors student competitions.
Public Policy MOOC
In February 2015, the Batten School launches “Public Policy Challenges of the 21st Century,” a massive open online course on the Coursera platform. In addition to lectures from the school’s faculty, it includes discussions with policymakers such as U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, former Congressman Tom Davis, former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and more. This comprehensive public policy course examines U.S.-China relations, health policy and defense policy, as well as issues of federalism.
Allan C. Stam, Dean and Professor of Public Policy
Stam began his term as the Batten School’s second dean on July 1, 2014, joining the school from his previous position as a professor of public policy and director of the International Policy Center at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. Stam’s work on leadership includes a structured biography project focusing on how political leaders’ formative life experience impact their willingness as heads of state to take risks and escalate armed conflict, examined in greater detail in his forthcoming book, Presidents, Kings, Dictators, and War (Cambridge University Press). His previous book projects include The Behavioral Origins of War, Democracies at War, Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century and Win, Lose, or Draw: Domestic Politics and the Crucible of War.
Harry Harding, Professor of Public Policy and Politics
A world-renown expert on Asia and U.S.-Asian relations, Harding’s major publications include The India-China Relationship: What the United States Needs to Know, A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China Since 1972, Sino-American Revolution: Reform After Mao, China’s Foreign Relations in the 1980s and Organizing China: The Problems of Bureaucracy, 1949-1976. Harding has a concurrent appointment with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Christine Mahoney, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Politics, Social Entrepreneurship Initiative
Christine Mahoney's research focuses on advocacy and activism; specifically she studies the framing, messaging and strategic decisions of civil society organizations seeking to change public policy. Her book, Brussels vs. the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union, is the first large-scale comparative study of lobbying in the U.S. and the EU. She is the co-chair of the ECPR Standing Group on Interest Groups; and recipient of the 2011 Emerging Scholar Award from APSA’s Political Organizations & Parties section.
Eric Patashnik, Professor of Public Policy and Politics
Patashnik’s current research explores the politics of evidence-based medicine in the U.S. His study asserts that one reason for the inefficiency of the U.S. health care system is its failure to generate and use hard evidence about the relative benefits of treatment alternatives, such as surgery versus drugs. Patashnik directs the Batten School’s Center for Health Policy. He is also a Fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration.
Christopher Ruhm, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Public Policy and Economics
Ruhm’s recent research has focused on examining how various aspects of health are produced, including the rise in obesity and the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and health, and on the role of government policies in helping parents with young children balance the competing needs of work and family life. His earlier research includes study of the determinants of health and risky behaviors, effects of job displacements and mandated employment benefits, transitions into retirement, and the causes and consequences of alcohol and illegal drug policies.
Craig Volden, Professor of Public Policy and Politics
Volden studies legislative politics and the interaction among political institutions, with a focus on what policy choices arise from legislative-executive relations and federalism. His major work, Revolving Gridlock, co-authored with David Brady of Stanford University, explores the conditions under which members of Congress are able to overcome the constraints that frequently produce policy gridlock. His current projects include research into innovation and policy diffusion across states, an examination of business-government relations regarding regulations and an analysis of the legislative effectiveness of members of Congress.
Craig Volden on legislative effectiveness
For more information on the Batten School, visit their website, as well as their Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.