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Spotlight: Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

June 5, 2018 01:31 PM

Our Program

The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is Syracuse University’s home for scholars doing research on public policy matters such as taxation, education finance, and aging.

Significantly, Maxwell houses both Syracuse University’s professional degree programs and its scholarly, PhD-bearing departments in public affairs and in the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, geography). This structure – unique among major schools of public affairs – encourages interdisciplinary approaches to all research and instruction, and it bears numerous advantages to scholars and students of public policy.

To further nurture that kind of interdisciplinary research and conversation, Maxwell hosts or co-hosts nine research institutes organized around topics as varied as global affairs, environmental policy, and public wellness. Of particular note is the Center for Policy Research (CPR), which conducts a broad range of research and other activities related to public policy, involving faculty and students from several departments within the Maxwell School. CPR faculty members consult regularly with government agencies and other institutions concerning the issues they are studying and publishes frequent working papers and policy briefs. CPR also hosts the Paul Volcker Lecture in Behavioral Economics — just one of the high-profile lecture series at Maxwell with policy implications (among others, the Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy and the Bantle Symposium on Entrepreneurship, Business, and Government Policy).

Professional degrees offered at Maxwell include the concentrated, 12-month Master of Public Administration; 16-month MA in International Relations (combining IR social science scholarship with core management/leadership skills); a two-year joint MPA/IR; a joint IR/Economics degree for students interested in international development; and executive versions of the MPA and MAIR (the former in both a residential and online version). In addition, future research professionals and faculty often pursue the well-regarded PhD in Public Administration.

Maxwell’s MPA was the first in the nation when created in 1924. It has been ranked either one or two by U.S. News & World Report in every such ranking since the Public Affairs category was introduced in 1995. It is ranked top-ten in ten different subspecialty categories.

Maxwell-in-Washington Programs

In 2014, Maxwell opened a satellite operation in Washington, D.C., at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a well-regarded think tank. From this base, the Maxwell-in-Washington program provides a mix of policy-relevant professional development courses and faculty-supervised internships that fulfill the School’s hallmark emphasis on experiential learning. Significantly, Maxwell recently launched a D.C.-based executive degree in international relations that draws on both Maxwell faculty and CSIS experts.

Nearly 200 students participate in Maxwell’s D.C. programs annually. During a recent year, students completed a total of 130 internships at 82 different Washington organizations. Maxwell-in-Washington faculty exposed students to more than 150 public policy and international affairs experts representing government, NGOs, think tanks, the private sector, media, multilateral organizations, and foreign embassies.

Maxwell Faculty

The Maxwell School faculty includes a wide array of scholars and former practitioners, many of them with a policy emphasis. In the social sciences, a surprisingly large subset conduct policy work – via the Center for Policy Research or the other institutes, or in collaboration with scholars around the world. In Public Administration, virtually all incoming faculty members arrive with significant research and publication portfolios. Because of the Maxwell School’s multi-faceted, hybrid structure, few professors operate within a narrow band of the theory/policy/practice spectrum.

Faculty members conducting policy-related work through the Center for Policy Research are listed here:

Leonard Burman Burman holds the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics and serves as director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (likely, the nation’s most trusted source of nonpartisan tax policy analysis). He is a much-cited expert on federal tax policy, expenditures, and the changing role of taxation in social policy.
Amy Ellen Schwartz Schwartz  is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs, with appointments in Economics and in Public Administration and International Affairs. Her current research analyzes public-school nutrition programs and their impact on the wellness of school children.
Peter Wilcoxen Wilcoxen, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, studies the effect of environmental and energy policies on economic growth, international trade, and the performance of individual industries. He holds the Ajello Professorship in Energy and Environmental Policy.
Leonard Lopoo Lopoo is director of Maxwell’s Center for Policy Research. His research interests primarily involve the family: fertility, marriage, maternal employment, and the public policies designed to assist low-income populations.
Sara Hammersma Hammersma specializes in public economics, labor economics, and health economics — particularly, economic evaluation of government programs designed to improve the well-being of low-income families. She also studies the effects of employment subsidies, such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, on hiring outcomes.
Robert Bifulco Bifulco specializes in education finance and policy. He researches topics such as charter and magnet schools, desegregation policies, and school and teacher performance evaluations, while also studying state budget deficits and related decision-making processes.
Yinger is among America’s foremost policy experts on public education finance, and on racial and ethnic discrimination in housing and mortgage markets. Books include Helping Children Left Behind: State Aid and the Pursuit of Educational Equity (MIT Press) and, with Stephen L. Ross, The Color of Credit: Mortgage Lending Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement (MIT Press).
Popp is an economist with research interests in environmental policy and the economics of technological change. His research focuses on the links between environmental policy and innovation.
Hou is a public finance scholar interested in fiscal policy, public budgeting, and intergovernmental fiscal relations as related to the core of development and governance. Much of his research focuses on the smooth operation of government finance across the boom-bust cycles of the economy.
Rebecca Schewe Schewe conducts research, through interdisciplinary partnerships, that focuses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment. She specifically examines how the major social institutions of the state, economy, and community structure our human interactions with ecosystems.

Our Alumni

Roughly 8,000 students have earned graduate degrees in public administration and/or International relations from the Maxwell School. Together, they form one of the most respected and envied alumni networks in all of higher education. With their core skill set and exposure to interdisciplinary scholarship, Maxwell alumni have a reputation for a quality best defined as savvy – a rare combination of big-picture understanding and can-do, pragmatic action. For that reason, Maxwell graduates are especially well represented in the policy operations of government, NGOs, and other public agencies, where their analytical skills contribute to effective implementation of policies that impact people, society, and the world.

Among alumni of the Maxwell School are former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former university president Donna Shalala; Sean O’Keefe, former NASA Administrator and former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget; Mary C. Daly, executive vice president and director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; and dozens more at think tank and policy evaluation firms such as MDRC, RAND, and ABT Associates.

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