We invite you to join us.
Policy is everywhere.
In our complex and globalized world, the increasing range of issues that are the subject of public policyis growing ever larger, to include problems such as climate change and terrorism that were not even on the agenda when the first public policy schools were created. We want our students to be on the lookout for policies that may be not be in the headlines,or even in our curriculum, and to pursue them using the analytic tools that we teach at the Batten School. I recently visited the University of Virginia’s Kluge-Ruhe Museum, a small museum specializing in Australian aboriginal art. Beyond the beautiful exhibits, there I learned of the very different ways that Australia and the U.S.–two advanced post-industrial democracies–have treated their “First Nation” populations. While the treatment of more recent immigrants is of great moment in the U.S. today, policies toward Native Americans are not presently in many headlines. And yet that issue is every bit as fascinating and important, offering potentially rich lessons for today’s students.
At the same time, when we say that “policy is everywhere,” we increasingly need to acknowledge the growing concerns that government is, in fact, more ubiquitous than it should be. No longer can we assume that the solution to every social or economic problem lies in government action. Increasingly, governmental solutions are being challenged as being unaffordable, ineffective, inappropriate, or even un-Constitutional. Our students are taught to consider which problems are the relevant concern of government, and, if not, where they are better addressed.
Leading from anywhere.
As our students explore the opportunities for leadership in different kinds of organizations, we want to help them understand that, although they can they lead from anywhere, they may have to do so in very different ways. Courses rooted in social psychology and practical experiences stemming from capstones and internships train our students that leadership is inherently contextual. Successful leadership in a governmental organization may be very different from successful leadership in a non-profit institution or a private entity. Leadership at the local and national levels may require unique skills. And successful leadership in one policy arena may look quite different than leadership in another. Leadership is not a “one size fits all” concept. Rather, it must be tailored to the specific context in which it is being exercised.
In short, at the Batten School, our joint focus on policy and leadership is more than just a tagline—it is something that permeates our curriculum and shapes our purpose. We invite you to join us, explore these ideas more fully, and help us refine and develop them.