The Public Policy Camp is an initiative to introduce the field of public policy to a group of students who might not otherwise be familiar with it, as well as increase the pipeline of diverse students into APPAM institutional member graduate public policy and public affairs schools.
Syracuse University Maxwell School
Moving Beyond Activism to Good Public Policy: Having a Voice at the Table
Attendees of the 2018 Maxwell
Public Policy Camp
The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is Syracuse University’s home for innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research in the social sciences, public policy and public administration. Maxwell scholars and students conduct wide-ranging research through nine interdisciplinary research centers, each focused on a topical area within public affairs. Having diverse perspectives at the policy table leads to better, more effective and inclusive, public policy. There continues to be a lack of trained policy professionals of color in leadership positions in the public policy community. We must work collectively to address this problem.
In the first session of the Maxwell's Public Policy Camp, students explored the definitions of public policy and beauracracy. Maxwell faculty Tina Nabatchi led a boisterous explanation of how policy impacts her morning routine – from her regulated coffee maker to the public roads she drove on. “I love beauracracy!” Nabatchi declared. “Public policy is everywhere. It touches the most mundane areas of our lives. But also, the most intimate aspects of our lives.”
Nabatchi used an online response platform in which students could input answers to questions she posed. One question created a word cloud of terms that come to mind when students think about public policy. The terms included government, regulation, education, freedom, healthcare, limitations, equality, and rights.
She defined the policy cycle as:
- Policy analysis
- Agenda setting (who’s voice matters?)
- Policy formulation (who defines the problem and how we fix it?)
- Implementation (how do we guarantee policies are implemented equally or with equity?)
The panel session included Naomi Barry-Perez, U.S. Department of Labor, Michael Mitchell, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities State Fiscal Policy division, Jeralyn Cave, Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign, Lorraine Collins, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., and Parag Mehta, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. They spoke at length about their experiences as persons of color in government, non-profit, advocacy, and corporate settings.
“The system is absolutely set up with barriers to make people fail,” Barry-Perez said. “If you don’t come from a background where someone is helping you understand that they exist and how to prepare for them, it’s going to be hard thing to get through.”
Mehta echoed this sentiment. “Government actually does a lot of wonderful things, but we don’t do a very good job of talking about it. The system is rigged to make things complicated that aren’t complicated and to make things opaque that should be transparent. It’s not by accident, it’s intentional.”
Collins added “this higher you get into organizations, the less color you see. And so be able to maneuver, still be true to who you are, and also know that you’re there to be a change agent.” Jeralyn agreed. “Make sure that wherever you’re going that your values align. Are you perpetuating a system that allows harsh systems to continue? If you are the only person that is in a particular space, be bold and be radical.”
Mitchell address a student comment about being in spaces with very little diversity. “When I started, I was one of 4 researchers of color out of 120. If was a very difficult space a lot of times. You walk into a room and the room becomes ‘diverse,’” he said. “Ask yourself, in this given room, what are my levelers, what is the locus of control I have, and how can I grow that to make the room more inclusive? How can I make visible how choices are being made about priorities?”
After lunch and a talk from Maxwell alumn Lloyd Blanchard from the University of Connecticut, the afternoon continued with a series of two breakout concurrent sessions in which student chose from several topical discussions with faculty or alumni. The closing reception provided opportunities for students to continue conversations with speakers and session leaders.
UC Riverside School of Public Policy
At UC Riverside, students began the day with a table activity addressing the question “What is Public Policy?” Students and table leaders discussed the size, scale, and scope of the public sector, the Scientific Method, market failures and why government is necessary, and the shortcomings of the public sector.
“We strongly believe that more college students need to be exposed to the field of public policy, so they can understand how evidence-based, innovative policies can address some of the biggest challenges facing societies around the world today," said UCR SPP Dean Anil Deolalikar. Established in 2012, the UC Riverside (UCR) School of Public Policy is home to the only undergraduate public policy program in the ten-campus University of California system, as well as the only Master of Public Policy program offered by a major research university in inland Southern California.
Overall, the Public Policy Camp was wonderfully organized and attended. In addition to 12 participants, 42 students from 11 different schools attended the activities held throughout the day.
During lunch, a career panel was moderated by David Brady. Panelists Rafael Elizade, Senior Advisor and District Director for Congressman Mark Takano, Tyler Madary, District Director for Senator Richard D. Roth, Barry Wallerstein, UC Riverside School of Public Policy, and Gregory Wilkinson, Former Partner, Best Best & Krieger LLP, offered their perspectives and input on questions relevant to their careers and education, but also to students currently in the field. A general theme from this panel was that the work may be hard but always be willing to question things and take on responsibilities that others may shy away from. Students were lined up to ask questions regarding good versus politics and how to reconcile one’s own ethical standards and beliefs when it comes to establishing policies.
Following lunch, the afternoon continued with two table activities. The first addressed Real World Policy Analysis, touching on diversity and how public policy matters to different constituencies, the role of politics in public policy, the importance of budgeting and getting funding, and finally wrapping up with discussing career trajectories and steps needed to get there.
The final interactive table activity called the “Fiscal Ship” highlighted different governing goals and policy solutions available to keep the National Debt from rising. This experience was an eye-opening one for the students in terms of how to balance reducing the debt with meeting one’s governing goals. Students experimented with accepting unanimous goals and solutions related to different policy areas, solutions, and tax implications.
The day was wrapped up with a visit from the Mayor of Riverside, May Rusty Bailey, who offered a light hearted yet informative presentation on his personal experiences with public policy. Mayor Bailey explained that in his role, he is representative, a problem solver, and a decision maker and echoed the fact that while decisions may not always be popular, if they are backed by solid research and critically thought through, they will be effective and gain support. Bailey also stressed that one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is seeing results and knowing that he has provided positive benefits to his constituents. Much like his predecessor worked for years on reducing smog, he hopes that he can leave a legacy of job creation and an “innovative district”.
Enjoy these recordings from the UC Riverside Public Policy Camp:
Mayor Rusty Bailey