Dear Alumni and Friends,
First, I'm thrilled to report that the Ford School is featured in a new segment of Out of the Blue—now airing across the U.S. on the Big Ten Network. The program showcases the Ford School's highly-regarded "Applied Policy Seminar", now called "Strategic Public Policy Consulting" or SPPC, and the economic development consulting project one of our student teams completed this fall for One Lenawee , a group of business and civic leaders in southeast Michigan.
Under the leadership of Professor of Public Policy Elisabeth Gerber, six Ford School students surveyed nearly all of the 34 units of government in the county to understand how critical community services were being delivered, and where there might be opportunities for partnerships to reduce the cost and enhance the quality of these programs. If you watch the segment, you'll see our students talking about their process, and presenting their data and preliminary recommendations to local government leaders. We're so proud of the work students are doing in this seminar—it's a wonderful opportunity for them to gain real-world consulting experience, while helping non-profit and government leaders address pressing policy challenges.
Winter semester at the Ford School is already well underway. We hit the ground running the Monday after New Year's Day with our annual three-day "Integrated Policy Exercise" for master's students. This year's exercise, led by Assistant Professor John Ciorciari, was an international crisis scenario. In response to a hypothetical leak at the Iranian nuclear facility near Qom, students were tasked to develop rapid policy responses to a complex risk involving widespread panic, uncertainty, and a powerful imperative for diplomacy.
After months of background readings and prep work, our students spent the week immersed in the simulation. Visiting experts (a few of them Ford School alums) joined them to offer perspectives from the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Washington Institute, and the global health and humanitarian relief organization Direct Relief International. By Friday, the last day of the simulation, our students presented some exceedingly thoughtful policy responses to what would be a complicated and politically sensitive situation.
As it happens, this year's Ford School Commencement speaker—journalist, foreign policy analyst, and author Robin Wright —has written extensively about Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and militant Islam. She's also reported on and from more than 140 countries for major national and international publications, is a regular commentator on some of the foremost news programs, and is a recipient of the United Nations Correspondents Gold Medal. Her Commencement talk on Saturday, April 30, is sure to be both substantive and inspiring—and I welcome all of you to attend if you are able to make it.
Just after the close of the "Integrated Policy Exercise," I took a trip of my own to Seoul, South Korea's capital city, for the annual meeting of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). As the recently appointed vice president of the APSIA Executive Committee, I look forward to sharing information about the group's accomplishments in the years ahead. For now, let me just say that the trip allowed me to celebrate the New Year with more than 200 University of Michigan alumni who live and work in Seoul—all of whom were wonderfully warm and welcoming—and to engage in substantive conversations about the policy successes and challenges of the nation. While South Korea has in a few short decades gone from being a developing economy to a thriving member of the OECD, it is also facing some acute regional policy challenges.
As we share news of some of the noteworthy things happening here at the Ford School, we hope to hear about some of the noteworthy things happening in your lives and careers, as well. Please stay in touch with us, and with each other, by joining our Facebook and LinkedIn groups, updating your employment information in our alumni directory, and sharing news through Class Notes in State & Hill. We'd love to hear from you.
Susan M. Collins