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Maxwell assists China in launching M.P.A. programs
As part of an ongoing effort to modernize and improve government services, China has selected the Maxwell School to help implement pilot master’s in public administration (M.P.A.) degree programs in several of the country’s universities.
China’s bureaucracy includes some 4.5 million people. Although many have college degrees, their training tends to be in technical fields rather than in administration, according to Jeffrey Straussman, associate dean of the Maxwell School and chair of the public administration department.
The Maxwell School was the first school in the United States with which Chinese officials consulted in their efforts to revive public administration as a field of study in their country after the discipline was abandoned for more than 30 years. Maxwell has been working with China since 1993. While progress has been considerable, the field is still at an early stage of development, Straussman says.
The first students to be enrolled in the pilot M.P.A. degree programs will be selected on the basis of a national examination that will be held in China in October. Some 2,400 people (100 from each of 24 Chinese universities) will be selected for the programs, slated to begin in the spring of 2002. The programs will target mid-career professionals with at least four years of experience working in government, state enterprises and not-for-profit organizations.
“Like the master’s in business administration initiative a decade ago, which was a response to China’s emerging market economy, the M.P.A. degree programs will help China prepare a new generation of public servants who will make China’s government professional, responsive and predicated on the rule of law,” Straussman says.
Straussman is one of two Maxwell faculty members who recently returned from a three-day workshop at Tsinghua University in Beijing on case-study writing and teaching. The case-study method is an interactive teaching method commonly used in M.P.A. degree programs, in which students are presented with a public administration problem for which they devise an appropriate solution.
The Maxwell case-study workshop is the first of a series of collaborative training activities designed to prepare Chinese faculty for the new M.P.A. degree programs. Straussman and Margaret Hermann, professor and director of the Global Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School, taught nearly 60 Chinese faculty members from more than 30 universities how to use case studies to illustrate important principles and theories, encourage students in critical thinking and help them develop creative problem-solving skills.
With the help of Maxwell faculty, faculty members at Tsinghua University will publish a book in early 2002 of selected cases written by workshop participants. The book will become a textbook for China’s M.P.A. students.