Comprehensive Education



The cover stories of the 2017 issue of GSPIA Perspectives focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. Dean John Keeler points out what made this important theme especially compelling now is that the 2016-2017 academic year was Pitt’s Year of Diversity, and within GSPIA an unprecedented number of events were organized to address many facets of the issue. 

In a matter of weeks, three major hurricanes levied profound impacts on communities across the Caribbean and parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Thousands of people are engaged in ongoing response and recovery operations, including GSPIA alumni: 

Rachel Vinciguerra traveled to Les Cayes Haiti during summer 2017, in part, to conduct a program evaluation for the Fi Ki Fò (strong girl), girls’ empowerment program, at Pwoje Espwa orphanage. During her internship, she and some colleagues noticed a gap in services and resources available to young women at the orphanage compared to men. As a result, Rachel and her colleagues established a pen-pal program between teen girls at Pwoje Espwa and young professional women in the U.S. called Write to Be. 

As part of the Shale Gas Governance Center fall lecture series, GSPIA alumnus and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale gave a talk on “Impact Fees: working as promised?” covering the history and implementation of impact fees on shale gas extraction.

Miriam Belblidia (MPA '09) came to GSPIA knowing she wanted to study disaster management. Ten years later, she is at the helm of an innovative water management company, Water Works, in New Orleans, working across the disciplines of science, art, and history to build community resilience. 

Daniel Scarnecchia (MPIA, ‘11) is currently a Researcher of Standards and Ethics and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI.) HHI is an interdisciplinary program that studies humanitarian crises and focuses on translational research to bring evidence-based approaches to real situations across the globe. Scarnecchia, who majored in Human Security, is focused on data governance and information access among people who are living through a humanitarian crisis.  

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently spoke to GSPIA students about the challenges and rewards of a career in public service. He focused his talk on the balance of being a good administrator with the idiosyncrasies of politics, noting that politics and public administration sometimes have competing interests, but are necessary partners. 

Nick McClure, a second year MPA student, spent his summer internship researching, writing and editing for GSPIA's Shale Gas Governance Center.  He applied to the internship with the goal to strengthen his skills as a researcher and writer. While his goals were fully realized, he also gained "unexpected, yet profitable, experiences in organizational development," explained McClure.  The following article describes his experiences in more detail.  

This spring Jennifer Murtazashvili (GSPIA) and B. Guy Peters (Political Science) will host an international conference exploring the relationship between bureaucracy and conflict. The conference is supported by GSPIA, the Ford Center for Human Security, the Ridgway Center for Security Studies, and the Global Studies Center.  Deadline, October 15, 2017.

Dr. Diane Ryan will deliver the inaugural lecture of the Hesselbein Forum at 5:00 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 28 at the Twentieth Century Club.  During her talk, Dr. Ryan will explore values-based leadership development as well as share research that demonstrates the importance of quality, character, mind-set, values, and principles in today’s rapidly evolving world. 

GSPIA will host Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (MPA ’97) at 11:45 p.m., Wed., Sept. 20 at the Twentieth Century Club (4201 Bigelow Blvd.). In this special talk, Mr. DePasquale will discuss the “Impact Fee” on unconventional gas wells in Pennsylvania.

John Mendeloff received a 2-year, $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, part of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to explain variations in fatality rates in the construction industry across the U.S. for the last 25 years. The research will look at policy variables like enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and and incentives provided by state workers' compensation programs.

Kyi Tha Tun was 10 years-old when he first realized it. Growing up in Burma (now called Myanmar), he recalls widespread poverty and waiting in lines for basic necessities at government cooperatives. What little they managed to find was poor in quality. His father explained why they had to wait in such long lines for very little: socialism, and a dictatorial military government that seized power in the coup of 1962. 

In 1988, the year Kyi turned 10, the same military junta still held power. Kyi began to see the country he grew up in as a prison, unaware that he would spend 14 years in an actual Burmese prison for helping to organize one of the largest student protests in the nation’s history. 

The Network of Schools of Public Policy (NASPPA) has announced the 2017 award recipients for outstanding achievement in public service education. Aziza Zemrani (MPA) will be recognized for her Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha in the Department of Public Affairs and Security Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.   The awards will be presented at NASPAA's annual conference in Washington, DC October 11 - 14, 2017.

Earlier this year, Alex Austin, a second year MPA student, had the opportunity to intern with the World Wildlife Fund. Originally published in GSPIA Perspectives, the following is an excerpt from his reflection on his experience.

In addition to a full-time course load, I spent the Spring of 2016 working remotely as the Energy Intern for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Northern Great Plains office located in Bozeman, Montana. As the energy intern, I was tasked with researching the effects of oil development on split estate surface owners residing in the Williston Basin region of Western North Dakota. The Basin is home to the Bakken oil-bearing formation which stretches from the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada to parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 

GSPIA and Pitt's School of Nursing have joined forces to offer nurses an opportunity to gain management skills through a new joint degree program. Nurses who are at mid-career or beyond may pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice in executive leadership in conjunction with a master’s degree in public policy and management (MPPM) from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. This new program will help strengthen their knowledge of nonprofit management as well as gain new analytical skills. To learn more about the MPPM program, click here. 

The GEPA working group, co-led by Dr. Müge Finkel of GSPIA and Dr. Melanie Hughes of Sociology, has been a Ford Institute working group since fall 2015. The GEPA working group brings together a multidisciplinary team of students to work with the Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to gather and analyze data on women’s global representation in public administration. This past year, graduate researchers built off of the work of the 2015-2016 working group, to analyze further disaggregation among countries with gendered data. 

The University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Pitt alumna Frances Hesselbein, has established The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA).
Since 1990, Hesselbein has been at the helm of a leadership institute founded as the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. In 2012, the organization was renamed to honor Hesselbein and her ongoing contributions. It continued its work and mission as The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute by providing social sector leaders with essential leadership wisdom, inspiration and resources to lead for innovation and to build vibrant social sector organizations. The institute has chosen to transfer many of its assets to the University of Pittsburgh to establish The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum.

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership released its annual report for the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Kevin Kearns, a GSPIA professor and director of the institute, highlighted the new and ongoing programs that make the Johnson Institute such a valuable asset to Pitt, the Pittsburgh community, and the world beyond. This year, the institute received the largest single foundation grant in its history from the Richard King Mellon Foundation in recognition of its community outreach initiatives such as the Leadership Portfolio Program and the Nonprofit Clinic. 

Dr. Louise Comfort accepted the 2017 B. Wayne Blanchard Award for Academic Excellence in Emergency Management in Higher Education from North Dakota State University. The award is given annually to scholars who have made contributions to the field of emergency management, a field to which Dr. Comfort has dedicated her career. 

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