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Prospective first-year students formulate ideas on improving their own communities through public policies
Prospective first-year students formulate ideas on improving their own communities through public policiesApril 08, 2008Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
One hundred of Syracuse University’s prospective first-year students will present their ideas on public policies that can improve their community at the 63rd annual Maxwell Citizenship Scholarship Conference, sponsored by the Public Affairs Program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The participants have applied and been accepted for admission in the Fall 2008 semester. The top 25 students in the competition will win a total of $224,000 in scholarships.
The event will take place Saturday, April 19, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Morning sessions will take place in Maxwell and Eggers halls. The participants will then move to Goldstein Auditorium in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center for a luncheon and awards ceremony.
All admitted students were offered the opportunity to submit a three-page public policy proposal to competition director William D. Coplin, professor of public affairs and chair of the Public Affairs Program. After the papers were read, 107 finalists were designated to attend the conference.
The local public policy memos sought to improve society in a variety of ways. Several students called for municipal and school policies to save energy and improve the environment, others sought to improve student performance in schools, and many dealt with specific local zoning and tax issues. Policies to prevent car accidents resulting from underage drinking were also recommended
The papers, which are graded prior to the conference, must recommend a government action that the students think should be considered. The proposed public policies can require state or federal action. Each paper contains an overview of the student’s stand on the issue; an explanation of the problems addressed and the proposed solution; a description of financial, legislative and administrative requirements the policy must meet; and a plan for evaluating the costs and benefits of the policy. Half of each student’s score is based on the written analysis of the policy issue. The remainder is determined by the student’s ability to persuade his or her peers to support the proposed public policy. Students present their proposals to small peer groups, who discuss and rate the presentations.
The paper and conference theme is designed to stimulate interest in local communities and local public policies. “Unfortunately, our school and college curricula do not cover local governmental policies as much as federal and international policies,” says Coplin. “The conference theme seeks to reward those students who are able to come up with ideas at the local level. Local government has the biggest impact on most people’s lives and is where most people can have the biggest impact on government policies.”
The presentations are graded by Coplin using the standards employed in his freshman course, and a peer score is the other 50 percent, which is a measure of the degree to which their peers see them as leaders. The student with the highest score will be awarded an annual scholarship of $5,000. The second-highest scorer will receive a $4,000 annual scholarship and the third-highest scorer will receive a $3,000 annual scholarship. The next 22 highest scorers will win $2,000 annual scholarships.
The Maxwell School of Syracuse University, founded in 1924, is the premier academic institution in the United States committed to scholarship, civic leadership, and education in public and international affairs. Maxwell is home to SU’s social science departments and to numerous nationally recognized multidisciplinary graduate programs in public policy, international studies, social policy and conflict resolution. Maxwell’s graduate program in public administration — the first of its kind — is ranked consistently the best in the nation.