Public Policies for Humans by Professor Matthew G. Nagler

This past summer I served as an Academic Affiliate of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST). A cross-agency group of applied behavioral scientists authorized to advise Federal agencies by an Executive Order of President Obama, SBST applies findings from the social and behavioral sciences to improve Federal policies and programs. For me – an economist whose research incorporates psychological research findings into models of economic behavior – this gig offered an opportunity to see directly how my research interests could be put to real-world use.

SBST’s job is an important one. Many Federal programs face serious challenges when it comes to the way in which real-live people interact with them. Websites often present constituents with information about Federal programs that is daunting to read and sort through. Intended beneficiaries often fail to find out about key Federal programs, causing the money allocated to help them to go unutilized or to go to people whose need is not as great. Perhaps you can recall a time when someone told you about a Federal program you should consider taking advantage of, but you didn’t because you feared having to navigate the various web pages, publications, and forms. SBST’s task is to provide Federal agencies the help they need to make government work better for real humans, so that we humans can benefit more – and more easily – from what government does.

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Colin Powell School to Revitalize NGO Initiative

Photo caption: Fnu Duojizhand, Anasimon Takla, Juan Pablo Celis and Anne Joost

In 2013 the City College of New York (CCNY) became one of a handful of colleges in New York to be associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). This year, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and its interdisciplinary International Studies Program are revitalizing the NGO initiative.

Since 2013, CCNY NGO has worked on becoming an active member of international civil society and on promoting the participation of its academic community in United Nations activities. CCNY NGO complements other campus initiatives such as Diplomat-in-Residence, CCNY membership in the UN Academic Impact, and the Model United Nations (MUN), all of which are dedicated to educating future leaders in global affairs.

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Five Minutes with: Preeya Saikia


***A note from Ms. Saikia: All views expressed are my personal views and are not necessarily the views or the position of the Administration or the Government of the United States of America. Thank you.


1. You have been working in the Office of Management and Budget and we wonder, when you first applied to the PSM program, where did you imagine your degree would take you? 

I pursued an MPA at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership because it was my understanding that in order to advocate powerfully on behalf of the public I needed to further my education.

When I applied to the PSM program, I was two years out of my undergraduate program, during which I spent some time working at a human rights advocacy firm in Cambodia. I was inspired to make this trip because by the time I had my diploma I decided that a career in the public sector or social services would best fit my values. My training in economics prepared me to approach problems analytically, but I wanted to learn how to approach problem solving through a macroscopic lens.

My MPA experience certainly added to my ability to think critically, but it also taught me how to evaluate policy ideas and articulate abstract concepts, and it provided me with ample practice to hone skills to work well on a team, which is fundamental to my job.

2. You’re living and working in DC during a time of great change. Can you tell us a little about what that means for your department and the work you do? Can you tell us a bit about where you hope your current experiences will take you in the future?
My immediate plans after this Administration are to look at career opportunities at the local and state government level, as well as management consulting for public and social sector clients.

There Is No Military Path to Victory in Afghanistan

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By Professor Rajan Menon (originally written for the National Interest, 9/12/2016)

Few will say it, but the facts are indisputable: America’s war in Afghanistan has failed. There comes a time when persisting in a lost cause amounts to foolishness, indeed irresponsibility. That time has arrived.

Washington’s minimal goals were to vanquish the Taliban, root out Al Qaeda and build a stable, effective government whose army and police would eventually fight the Taliban independently and successfully while maintaining law and order across the land. These objectives have not been meet.

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On Graduation

If you’ve never been to a CCNY graduation, you should come.

All graduations are joyous events; all graduations affect transitions between years of preparation and a world rife with new possibilities.  And, I’ll admit that it’s been years since I’ve attended a graduation that did not take place on a CUNY campus—but I still think our graduations are different.

I think they’re different because they’re filled with young people rewriting their entire family history.  When you wander around after a Colin Powell School graduation ceremony, you’re surrounded by parents who’ve sent sons and daughters into a world they didn’t understand and couldn’t explain to their children.  For many it may feel like a huge gamble: will their children grow unfamiliar to them, alienated from home and culture? Will the embrace of an education build walls, or create ladders? Will a child’s opportunity be a family’s loss? Despite the risks and doubts, or perhaps because of them, students and families arrive at graduation day as to a new continent they never thought they’d reach.  The air is spiced with their joy.

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Meet Associate Director, Michael Busch

Meet Michael Busch, Associate Director in the Office of Student Success at the Colin Powell School.

At the heart of our vision for the office of student success lies a vast expansion in the idea of what advisement should be. Narrowly conceived, advisors guide students through the classes they need to graduate. Properly expanded, student success connects young people to the requirements, opportunities and capacities they need to succeed on campus, and after they leave.

Michael Bush, Associate Director of the Office of Student Success, immediately grasped the possibilities inherent in this expanded definition of student success. As a teacher on this campus he’d spent years working with students on research papers, nurtured countless rough ideas into fully formed research papers. But in the world outside the classroom, student papers needed to speak to a broader audience.They needed to refine and struggle with first and second drafts, and to determine more precisely the need to which their work spoke. To prepare students to better shepherd their ideas, Michael devised the concept of the Annual Colin Powell School Undergraduate Student Research Symposium.

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Five Minutes With: Sara Arcia, Graduating Class of 2016 and president of the SocioLights, the Sociology Department’s Student Club

Each issue of our newsletter includes an interview with a current student or member of our alumni network (which spans the globe). This issue features Sara Arcia, class of 2016 and president of the Sociology Department’s Student Club, the SocioLights.

Sara, tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to the Colin Powell School:

Sara: I am the youngest of three children and the first to go to college immediately after high. I was raised by a single mother and have an older brother and sister, who are all super supportive of me. I come from a working class family and was raised in the Bronx. College was really tough for me at first because I didn’t have anyone around who I could get advice from on what college would be like or how to navigate the application process. I wasn’t extremely confident when I sent my college applications because I didn’t have anyone to give me pointers on what was most important. When I came to City College for my campus visit, I really enjoyed the campus feeling and immediately felt a connection and started to imagine myself attending classes here.

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Have you seen A New Light in Harlem?

Do you know a young person who wants to be a leader in public service? Get access to world-class preparatory coursework and field experience without amassing piles of debt? Are you a scholar, educator, or community organizer looking to break down walls between the Academy and the surrounding community? Who knows that in order to find better answers to pressing questions of the 21st century, we need to hear more voices? Watch and learn more about the mission of the Colin Powell School—”A New Light in Harlem.”

Our original upload to YouTube got over 600 views in just a matter of days! We had to do a *tiny* bit of clean-up, so we uploaded a new version (click below).

The film features interviews with General Colin Powell, Dean Vince Boudreau, and faculty, students, alumni, and board members, spotlighting the amazing community we have up here on the City College campus.

Do you know a young person who wants to be a leader in public service? Get access to world-class preparatory coursework and field experience without amassing piles of debt?

Are you a scholar, educator, or community organizer looking to break down walls between the Academy and the surrounding community? Who knows that in order to find better answers to pressing questions of the 21st century, we need to hear more voices?

Watch and learn more about the mission of the Colin Powell School—”A New Light in Harlem.”