A Ford School tradition and a glimpse at the future of public policy: PPIA 2013 Summer Institute

July 30, 2013

When she was a University of Texas junior, Cortney Sanders, as a member and chair of the Black Student Alliance and in conjunction with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, filed an amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin—a recent Supreme Court case challenging the legitimacy of affirmative action. The Ohio State University student William Crawford spent a semester as a White House intern in the Office of Scheduling and Advance. And now that Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Summer Institute has ended, Patrick Smith is going to leave University of California, Berkeley, for a semester to study French literature and international policy in Lyon, France.

These are just a few of the 18 PPIA 2013 Fellows, and they were a particularly impressive group. "In my inaugural year coordinating this program," notes Recruiting and PPIA Coordinator Julia Hoffert, "I have been awed by the savvy, engaged and all-around inclusive nature of this group."

For 32 years, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has hosted top students from colleges across the United States as part of the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Summer Institute, a national program that encourages diversity in public service. Launched by the Sloan Foundation in 1981, the highly competitive PPIA program helps students from a broad array of backgrounds prepare for graduate school and, ultimately, taking leadership roles in the public sector.

It's noteworthy that this year's incoming class of MPPs includes three U-M PPIA alums: Reynaldo Goicochea, Prabhdeep Kehal, and Diana Won.

Each year, an accomplished group of students from around the country spends seven weeks in rigorous preparation for graduate programs in public policy, and this summer was no exception. Classes introduced students to timely policy topics.

Susan Waltz taught a module on international policy. Fellows discussed a number of issues, including the recently finalized text of an international Arms Trade Treaty. Waltz charged students with creating economic/security profiles of a number of countries to shed light on what each nation's stake might be in a small arms treaty.

John Chamberlin gave a guest lecture on public policy and ethics, Ann Lin lectured on immigration and Matthew Davis taught health policy.

And because preparing students for graduate-level coursework is a central goal, students also took modules in statistics, taught by Justin Thomas and microeconomics, taught by LSA's Janet Gerson.

A highlight of this year's summer institute was a day spent learning first-hand about the Federal Reserve System at the Detroit branch of the Chicago Fed, where Dean Susan Collins is a member of the board. At the Ford School Spirit Day activities in Detroit that same evening, fellows were tired but still chatted enthusiastically. When asked later about the summer institute, Cortney Sanders explained it this way: "PPIA is social justice, it is the very act of policy for those who seek to change the world. Bringing people from all walks of life and merging their past experiences with new ones created at the Ford School is life changing."

[View photos from the PPIA trip to the Detroit branch of the Chicago Fed]