To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.
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A thought-provoking New York Times op-ed earlier this week led me to reflect on the last two years of my public policy education. The editorialist, Mark C. Taylor, suggested that graduate education—indeed all levels of education—sorely need structural reform if we are to cope effectively with the complex, cross-sectoral challenges facing the world today.
"Restructure the curriculum, beginning with graduate programs and proceeding as quickly as possible to undergraduate programs. The division-of-labor model of separate departments is obsolete and must be replaced with a curriculum structured like a web or complex adaptive network. Responsible teaching and scholarship must become cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural."
"It would be far more effective to bring together people working on questions of religion, politics, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, religion and philosophy to engage in comparative analysis of common problems. As the curriculum is restructured, fields of inquiry and methods of investigation will be transformed."
Perhaps public affairs education leads this trend. In training to be public leaders, network-builders, jacks-of-many-trades, we necessarily speak multiple disciplinary languages. In some ways, I think of Humphrey as an issue-focused liberal arts graduate education that transcends the "-iums". (A group of students at Humphrey have been bringing disciplines together for this exact purpose--to escape the ivory silos and learn from one another.)
What are the new liberal arts that public and nonprofit leaders need in order to make sense of the world?