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American culture in seven weeks at Maxwell
American culture in seven weeks at MaxwellOctober 29, 2002Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
A group of Indian government executives has spent the past seven weeks learning a lot about international public policy and a little about American universities and culture. They returned home having heard former Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan lecture and having carved their first Halloween pumpkins.
When the Indian government realized the need to increase public policy training for its government mid-career executives, the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), India’s leading school of management, was chosen as the site for a new multi-year program. As part of the new program, IIMB and government officials also set about looking for an American university to host an annual seven-week segment on public administration and public policy.
Indian officials visited a number of American institutions and shortlisted six, including Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Maxwell’s number one ranking along with Harvard in public affairs was important, as were its academic strengths and variety of offerings” says Chiranjib Sen, chair of IIMB’s program. “But we also wanted to find a place where the students would fit in quickly.”
What struck Sen on visiting Maxwell last spring was its integrity. “I felt a kind of team spirit in the institution,” he says. “I felt it was unified and could mobilize quickly to meet our needs.”
When all was said and done, Maxwell was the team’s first choice to partner with IIMB. The first group of students was scheduled to arrive in early September. William Sullivan, director of the School’s Executive Education Program, and Public Administration Prof. Larry Schroeder set about mapping it out and recruiting colleagues to lecture to the Indian executives.
“Based on the wide range of interests and experience of the Maxwell faculty, I knew we would be able to carry it off without bringing in a large contingent of guest speakers,” Schroeder says. “Most of the lecturers were able to do a three-hour lecture in the area they are already expert in, rather than having to research a whole new area.”
The heart of the program was 18 three-hour lectures in a wide range of public policy areas, including drug policy, intergovernmental relations in the U.S., education policy, globalization and income equity, agricultural development and population policy. Speakers included faculty from Maxwell, the College of Law and the School of Management.
“It’s been a good exposure to international viewpoints,” says Vidya Vaidyanathan, former director of women and child development for the government of Karnaaka. “This has really given us a chance to know systems across countries.”
Participants also took field trips to an Onondaga County budget meeting, the county’s Justice Center, the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany and Pyramid Companies in Syracuse. And they carved their first Halloween pumpkins at a Maxwell party to celebrate both the American holiday and the Hindu Diwali (Festival of Lights). They had opportunities to mix with full-time Maxwell students, including participating in a three-day symposium in which they and other graduate students, from a multitude of countries, shared international policy projects they have been working on.
“One of the strengths of Syracuse University is the students,” says Kalpana Gopalan, director of employment and training in the Indian Administrative Service. “I haven’t heard ‘no’ in this University, from professors, students or anyone else.”
“We were really made to feel at home,” says Sumit Mullick, secretary to the government of Maharashtra. “It has been a short introduction to American culture.”
The seven week public policy training course at Maxwell marks the beginning of a relationship with the Government of India and IIMB that includes many activities. These include government officials enrolled in Executive Education’s master’s and certificate programs in public administration, Maxwell faculty teaching courses at IIMB and the delivery of short-term training courses in India for groups of government officials on various public administration topics. A second group of government administrators will visit Maxwell next fall for another public policy course.
“This is an exciting new project that will benefit the school and the University,” says William Sullivan, “and brings with it new opportunities for faculty research and a way to learn about the rapid political, economic and social changes that are occurring in India.”
The relationship with India will be managed by the Department of Public Administration and the Executive Education Program. Executive Education has a number of responsibilities at Maxwell including administration of the School’s professional graduate program in public administration, the design and delivery of training programs for government officials and managing relationships and projects with international institutions in China, Russia, Vietnam and now India.