Election Night Live! at Wagner


As the tallies of predicted Electoral College votes climbed above 200, the energy at Puck built to a crescendo; the anticipation, anxiety and curiosity that had simmered throughout the evening bubbled to the surface.

It was the moment everyone was waiting for at the Wagner Election Night Live! party with its more than 400 students, faculty and friends — a night that mixed issues and fun and reflected NYU Wagner commmunity’s passion for public policy in all its complexity.

Though it only happens once every four years, the Wagner ENL! party is one of the most anticipated events hosted by the school. In the week leading up to election night, the Wagner Events Team was firing on all cylinders, preparing a kind of celebration of democracy. The night was infused with election-themed activities, libations and décor. Guests were invited to craft patriotic stickers to support their issue or candidate, write a message of encouragement or critique to the election victor, grab a red or blue marker to help fill in an electoral map as each state was called, or to compete for prizes in the Electoral Scavenger Hunt.

With “red state” or “blue state” beverages in hand, attendees mingled with friends and colleagues watching the returns on big screens, each TV tuned to a different network, and listening to the pundits and predictions. In addition to hearing from Wolf Blitzer and David Gregory, Wagner Election Night Live gave participants access to political experts of a different sort; Wagner faculty on hand, including Professors Chan, Prasad, Elbel, Fritzen, Noveck, Gershman. Each led a conversation on the implications of the election for a particular policy or social issue:

• Professor Chan discussed economic policy issues, particularly fact checking some of the economic claims made in campaign advertising.
• Professor Prasad’s social policy discussion imagined what social policy priorities would be paramount in a Romney or an Obama administration, as well as the many social issues up for grabs at the state level that night.
• Professor Fritzen discussed the election from a global perspective, noting how other countries view the U.S. democratic process. Conversation quickly transitioned to the narrow scope of foreign policy in the election debates, and the focus on China as a “common enemy” for both campaigns.
• Professor Elbel discussed the implications for healthcare in the election. Questions around how Romney might change the ACA were a common thread, along with hopes that broader public health efforts will rise to the top of the agenda in the coming term.

As the night continued and food options transitioned from sushi to Hawaiian pizza, the volume of people and noise in the Rudin Family Forum grew. President Obama was the clear favorite in the room, and cheers erupted as each network called a state for the President, an emotional roller coaster evident throughout the night as guests exchanged high fives and frantic glances at the televisions and Twitter to see how the electoral numbers were adding up.

As MSNBC became the first to call the election for President Obama, a cheer rang out, the high fives turned to embraces and all eyes then scanned the remaining networks to see wehther they would join in. The conversation turned from one of “what ifs” to that of “what now;” many guests stayed past midnight, discussing the election contest that was, and what the start of the next four years would look like.

While Election Night Live gave the Wagner community a brief respite after a long presidential campaign and harrowing hurricane, ENL! was first and foremost an expression of what it means to be a part of one of the nation’s top schools of public Ssrvice. As Wagner events administrator Scott Sowell put it the morning after the election, “Last night I was reminded once again what extraordinary people make up the Wagner community. From leading conversations and mixing cocktails to hanging decorations and managing tech, not to mention numerous other tasks, each of you rolled up your sleeves and served however you could.” Now, the Wagner community and the rest of our fellow citizens will wait to see whether our newly elected or re-elected officials will do the same: roll up their sleeves and get to work on issues that really matter.

– by Catherine Dangremond, Angela Dooley, Courtney Jones, Ashley Kolaya, Alex Powell


This Week at NYU Wagner – November 05, 2012


News:

In the Press:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events:


This Week at NYU Wagner – October 29, 2012


In the Press:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events:


This Week at NYU Wagner – October 22, 2012


In the Press:

Blog Posts:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events:


Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees


MANY OF US know that conflict displaces people.

Most of us know that Iraq has been a conflict ridden area for quite some time.

Many of us know that violent leaders commit atrocities in certain parts of the world.

And most of us, by now, have heard of Joseph Kony.

So why bother spending your Tuesday lunch hour at the Puck Building listening to experts in the field of refugee humanitarian assistance and African news coverage discuss these topics?

Consider that even these well-publicized topics have hidden sides that don’t often make the headlines. As the number of displaced people from post-conflict areas rises, new refugee populations begin to change the landscape of the places they inhabit. Some wish to return home. Some wish to start fresh and build a new version of home. Each individual contributes to the shifting needs of a new population.

Adam Sirois, director of Global Development and adjunct faculty for the NYU College of Nursing, has spent years studying refugee populations in the Middle East. As an October presenter in NYU Wagner’s “Conflict, Security, and Development” lunchtime speaker series, Adam brought his on-the-ground experience interviewing Iraqi refugees in Jordan to the table. He spoke candidly about what the UN and NGOs in Jordan are doing effectively (targeting the neediest individuals, focusing on comprehensive wellbeing-healthcare that includes attention to mental health and directing resources toward psychosocial community development programs that build community in the long term), and what they’re not (communicating available resources to populations that need them and hiring competent workers in local offices to implement programs).

Then, in another October speaker event, the Conflict Series traveled 2,000 miles south with Blackstar News editor-in-chief Milton Allimadi, who discussed the evolution of African news coverage that brought us to the age of KONY2012. Referring to the internet sensation as “the most brilliant propaganda strategy we’ve seen in years,” Allimadi took us through the nooks and crannies of the most important game-changing stories that don’t get picked up by the major news outlets. He offered insights on the role of both the US government and Invisible Children in the 2008 Garamba Offensive (codenamed “Operation Lightning Thunder”), carried out by Uganda’s government against the LRA. “How do I know about this? I was there; I didn’t hear. No one talked about it. I know because of the revelation from Wikileaks!”

Allimadi’s perspective on the strategy behind KONY2012 paints a picture of a brilliantly-executed manipulation with many puppet masters. “For it [the video campaign] to have been effective, it means many people had to go along with it—with the falseness of it.”

Though many of us believe that social media has ushered in the dawn of a new “Citizen Media,” both objective and transparent, Allimadi facilitated a dialogue that calls into question our most basic assumptions about this notion. “This video is not a mere video,” says Allimadi, “it’s a part of US foreign policy, paving the way for a new White Man’s Burden.”

Pick up with the Conflict Series again on Tuesday, October 23 , the final installment of the Fall semester. Joey Ansorge, consultant, Security Sector Governance) and Andrew Michels, senior civilian advisory, Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell, Joint Chiefs of Staff, will lead a discussion entitled, “Liberia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan: Case Studies in Security Coordination.”

When: Tuesday, Oct 23 12:30pm
Where: The Rudin Forum for Civic Dialogue, Puck Building, 2nd Floor
RSVP: http://wagner.nyu.edu/events/conflictsecurityanddevelopmentseries-fall2012


This Week at NYU Wagner – October 15, 2012


News:

In the Press:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events:


This Week at NYU Wagner – October 08, 2012


News:

In the Press:

Blog Posts:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events:


Tech Innovation, Presidentially Speaking


By Ashley N. Kolaya

INVITATIONS BEARING the White House Seal found their way to several NYU Wagner in-boxes last week. The illustrious occasion? At this time of year, you might be tempted to think: campaign event, fund-raising gala, or perhaps more likely since graduate students made the invite list, a grassroots small donor initiative. In fact, the White House partnered with 92Y Tribeca to host an open house discussion on several of President Obama’s key technology and innovation initiatives.

The Sept. 28 event began with Todd Park, US Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President energetically taking the stage to introduce the newly launched Presidential Innovation Fellowship program. “I’m gonna give you a quick run-down of why you’re here; then, I’m going to put you to work.” And, Todd Park is a man of his word.

The aim of the Presidential Fellows program is to give government a bit more of an edge in the realm of science and technology policy. Think: an image that revolves around fewer dull, difficult-to-manage Kafkaesque documents, phone numbers, and websites that drag you from one wrong government office to the next. Instead, imagine a more innovative, user-friendly, well-branded enterprise (no, not Google) that answers today’s toughest policy questions with creative design and implementation strategies.

As Park puts it, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program aims to connect top technology innovators from outside the government sector with top policy shapers inside the US government to “create real and substantial changes that will in a very short time frame benefit the American people, save taxpayers money, and help create new jobs.” Fellows embark on a six-month “tour of duty,” during which they work to develop a “game-changing” response to policy concerns set forth by the administration. “That’s why you’re here,” said Park, “to help us change the game.”

Participants were introduced to the five “game-changing projects” currently under consideration by the Presidential Fellows and asked to weigh in, both with questions and with their own ideas. Issues ranged from open government data sharing to the implementation of electronic medical records technology to mobile money transferring for the developing world. On each topic, a White House representative presented the project goal, then turned the floor over to an audience full of idea-hungry and inquisitive listeners. Some were tech start-up owners; others represented the health care, international development, and academic fields; still others were graduate students interested in the new path to innovation being laid before them.

An appreciative White House team rabidly took down notes, offered contact information, and thanked participants for their great ideas. “This is why we’re here,” said Todd Park, “because we want to turn the best ideas into policy that affects positive change. And, you are the ones that have the best ideas.”


IPSA Hosts Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights


By Alexander James Powell
IN THE MIDST OF the recent 67th General Assembly meeting of the United Nations, NYU Wagner’s International Public Service Association (IPSA) invited Under Secretary of State Maria Otero to participate in a town hall discussion in the school’s Rudin Center. Otero, one of six Under Secretaries to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, deals mainly with civilian security, democracy and human rights worldwide and is currently most involved with Burma and the countries of the Arab Awakening. Her mission since becoming Under Secretary in 2009 has been to help governments protect their citizens by moving violence away from populated regions, support underrepresented groups, and facilitate transitional justice in countries experiencing major revisions to their governing bodies.

When the General Assembly of the UN meets, it is a truly busy time for the Under Secretary, mainly for the meetings and sessions outside the General Assembly. Over the past week Otero was able to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, the chairperson of National League for Democracy and opposition politician to the military rule that has dominated the government of Burma for decades. Otero also emphasized the impact that the informational discussion panel “Religion and Foreign Policy” had during the series of events. She mentioned that this meeting was filled beyond capacity; the topic has received increased attention since the assassination of her friend Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi. These panels and informal meetings, according to Otero, are where some of the most important interactions and discussions occur during the UN meetings.

A major concern for the Secretary of State and an obvious interest from the crowd was the issue of water security for poor nations. The role that Otero saw the U.S. government playing was ni mediating between nations that share a river as a border. These countries that are both part of the same river basin must work together to consider the long term impacts of water usage and releasing pollutants into the river. These issues are compounded in the situation of the ten countries that border the Nile River in Eastern Africa.

Finally Otero explained the Open Government Initiative, a program that encourages the transparency of nations’ budgets and operations for their citizens to oversee. The explanation of this effort begged a question from the audience as to the line between the U.S. government’s intervention with these international countries and the sovereignty they maintain. The Under Secretary’s response is summed up by the Presidential Study Directive 10:

“Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods. America’s reputation suffers, and our ability to bring about change is constrained, when we are perceived as idle in the face of mass atrocities and genocide.”

The statement emphasizes that is the responsibility of the U.S. government to act against these atrocities but Otero also stated that they mainly focus on those nations that want to be helped. They work with like=minded leaders that recognize they have a problem and admit that they need help fixing it. For the rest of the nations they can only encourage action and advocate for those suffering.

IPSA secretary Jessica Troiano and Under Secretary Maria Otero (right).

The NYU Wagner special event was hosted by the International Public Service Association (IPSA) on September 29 and was professionally moderated by Wagner’s own Jessica Troiano.


This Week at NYU Wagner – October 01, 2012


News:

In the Press:

Blog Posts:

Upcoming Events:

Recent Events: