The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
A highly spirited, good-humored and at times poignant NYU Wagner convocation ceremony filled the beautiful Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 17, including a keynote address delivered by visiting scholar, best-selling author, and astute social critic Irshad Manji.
Her subject was "moral courage," a matter she teaches at Wagner with great passion and insight. As part of her presentation, several students stood in the auditorium; their faces were beamed onto a jumbo screen and their voices were amplified as they explained to hundreds of asssembled classmates, friends and family members what the phrase "moral courage" means to each of them.
It was just one of many emotional and powerful moments as the more than 350 graduates cheered -- all of them poised to embark on the next step of their amazing careers in public service within and across sectors and disciplines.
In another twist on the standard graduation ceremony, three MPA graduates -- Nilbia Y. Coyote, Chesray L. Dolpha, and Kuo Jeng Yang -- greeted the audience with "Welcome" in dozens of languages that reflect the United Nations-like variety of native tongues embodied by Wagner's student body and its diverse global ties.
Ellen Schall, Wagner's dean, led the ceremonies, while New York University Provost David W. McClauglin offered words of welcome and praise, and Associate Dean and Professor Rogan Kersh recited the Athenian Oath. Faculty and student awards aplenty were yet another highlight of the day.
Congratulations to the Class of '11. Forward!
A reporter's Week in Review piece in The New York Times refers to research co-authored by Professor Joe Magee of NYU Wagner in 2006.
"In one recent study," according to the May 23, 2011, article entitled "A Sexist Pig Myth," "researchers led by Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University primed participants to feel powerful by having them write about an incident in which they had control over others and then distribute lottery tickets to themselves and another study subject. These 'high-powered' people were significantly less accurate in reading emotions from facial photographs than a comparison group of participants who were not primed in the same way. This and other experiments suggest that power can blind people to the emotions of those around them and lead to 'objectifying others in a self-interested way,' " the authors concluded.
Joe Magee is associate professor of management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. His research is concerned with roles of hierarchy in organizations and society.
Instead of face painting and kielbasa, there were brightly colored worm tunnels, and a crocheted room. Italian ices and ferris wheels -- the stuff of traditional street fares everywhere -- were replaced by fresh thinking about environmental sustainability, neighborhood heterogeneity, and cutting-edge networking.
The streets and suites all around NYU Wagner's headquarters in the historic Puck Building were awash in new ideas on urban living May 4 to May 8 at the first-ever Festival of Ideas for the New City. Workshops and discussions, dealing with everything from art and housing to urban planning and public policy, took center stage at multiple locations throughout downtown.
The first-ever brainstorm of its kind, the Festival of Ideas was organized by the New Museum, with assistance provided by NYU Wagner and the Cooper Union, and other major partners.
Participants in the festival events included small businesses, local non-profits, and a raft of arts organizations.
The talks tapped the knowledge of thinkers from a variety of arenas. Artists, urban planners, architects and even musicians like David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) - who opened an event on bicycle transportation called "The Sustainable City" -- populated and energized the discussions.
The events were all aimed at coming up with ways of making city life more beautiful, durable, collective, connective, and innovative.
Two of the discussions were hosted at Wagner's headquarters at Lafayette and Houston streets, with Wagner also dispatching expert participants to other happenings, such as Professor and Associate Dean Rogan Kersh. Wagner's Josh Mandell attended the Downtown Policy Issues World Café, co-hosted at the Puck by NYU Wagner and IDEO, the design firm; he wrote up the lively discussion about new ways to use shared space, solar panels, and even white paint. Thirteen.org was also there, picking up intelligence.
Just three weeks into his role as head of the nation's largest public school system, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke with NYU Wagner's Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) on April 27.
He discussed his career path, including founding a youth mentorship program, heading the National Urban League, and serving as Deputy Mayor of Education and Community Development. Chancellor Walcott also talked about leadership lessons he has learned from these experiences, including the importance of recognizing mentorship moments, the growth that comes from hiring people who will challenge you, and strategies for maintaining work-family balance in public service careers.
Gordon Brown, the British Labour Party leader who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from June 2007 to May 2010, and is a current Member of Parliament, spent an engaging day at NYU Wagner on April 11 with groups of students, faculty, alumni, staff, and the dean, Ellen Schall. In the evening, he spoke to more than 150 friends of the public-service graduate school as the guest of the Henry Hart Rice Forum moderated by Mitchell Moss, Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Wagner.
The Right Honourable Mr. Brown projected optimism about globalization. He said vast increases in producers and consumers in fast-developing countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil will benefit the West, as long as the U.S. and Europe invest heavily in science, technology and education and keep the doors of global trade open.
In this way, Mr. Brown argued, the West can ensure it will profit and gain new sources of employment from globalization -- and ease the understandable anxiety so rife today about economic change.
"For the first time last year, in almost 200 years, Europe and America are being out-produced, out manufactured, and out-invested by the rest of the world," he said. "...It makes people insecure; it makes people feel, ‘Are we witnessing the decline of the West?...And then people feel insecure about their jobs."
It is this economic "sea change," which surpasses even that of the Industrial Revolution, that holds the seeds of opportunity for a more balanced global economy, according to the former prime minister.
"The people who are producing goods in China, India, and elsewhere - they don't want just to be workers producing goods; they want to be consumers too," he said.
"They want to enjoy some of benefit of the goods that come with a higher standard of living. They want to be part of the industrial society as middle class consumers of the future," and they want to have "houses, electrical goods, better clothes, higher quality food, health care, and education."
"There is a huge opportunity for us in what is about to happen, because we in America and Europe can be the people who are equipped to sell goods and services that are sold in the rest of the world," added Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown, who has a PhD in History from the University of Edinburg, was introduced by Dean Schall and queried by Professor Moss about his youthful influences (mainly his parents and his school teachers), rapport with U.S. presidents (from Clinton to Bush to Obama), and Scotland's historical impact on the American experiment.
The event was held at the Kimmel Center of New York University. Mr. Brown is the university's inaugural Distinguished Global Leader in Residence.
In his remarks, the former prime minister warned against a "race to the bottom" that will occur if countries are permitted to attract business via deregulation. What is required, he stated, is the development and maintenance of consistent international standards for investment.
Fielding a question from a Wagner student about the environmental impact of burgeoning consumer economies, he said that worldwide treaties, such as the one attempted but not enacted at the recent Copenhagen Climate Summit, are clearly merited .
Paul C. Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at NYU Wagner, has accepted an invitation from the Comptroller General of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, to serve on the principal advisory board of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," it investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes.
Dodaro was nominated by President Obama in September 2010. He became Acting Comptroller General of the United States on March 13, 2008, succeeding David M. Walker, who appointed him upon resigning. Dodaro became Comptroller General of the United States on December 22, 2010, when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Professor Light has written 19 books, including the award-winning Thickening Government and The Tides of Reform. His most recent book is Driving Social Change: How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems, a study of social entrepreneurship. Light is also a co-author of a best-selling American government textbook, Government by the People.
His research interests include: bureaucracy, civil service, Congress, entitlement programs, executive branch, government reform, nonprofit effectiveness, organizational change, and the political appointment process.
The GAO Advisory Board is the most influential panel of its kind at the agency, and meets several times a year.
A new course at NYU Wagner taught by Mike Peng of IDEO, an adjunct professor, introduced students to the concept of design thinking. In their final projects, student teams employed design thinking, an approach most commonly used in the development of consumer products, to effect policy change and social impact. The challenge was to come up with people-centered improvements for New York City schools, subways, hospital care, or other services. In this NYU Wagner video, Peng discusses design thinking and its relevance for change makers. The students presented their final presentations, also excerpted here, at the close of last semester (Fall, 2010). The course title was "Design Thinking: A Creative Approach to Problem Solving."
Richard Brodsky, a highly respected former New York State Assemblyman, has joined NYU Wagner as a Senior Fellow.
Brodsky will work on developing courses and symposia on a variety of public issues, including governance reform of private and public institutions, national and international capital movement between the private and public sectors, and other matters reflecting his long experience in government.
In addition, he will work cooperatively with other disciplines and elements of the University community, and write and speak on issues of public importance within and outside NYU. Much of his efforts will focus on the important but under-developed connections between government and other sectors. He also will teach, and has begun to do so this semester, co-teaching a graduate class on Public Policy and The Arts.
"I am delighted that Richard Brodsky has agreed to join us as Senior Fellow," said Ellen Schall, Dean of NYU Wagner. "Richard brings enormous experience in the workings of state and local government, a keen understanding of what it takes to bring about change, and, not least, unmatched enthusiasm."
Brodsky was a Member of the New York State Assembly from 1982 to 2010, and is a graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard Law School.
"NYU Wagner, as part of a global network university, has a critically important role in educating leaders for public service, he said. "Now, more than ever, we need individuals of the highest caliber, integrity, and training to devote their careers to public life and the public good. I'm delighted to work with the outstanding faculty, administration and student body at one of the world's great universities. My thanks to Dean Schall and the leadership of NYU."
The Capstone Program at NYU Wagner came in for high praise in the State of the Borough address delivered February 24, 2011, by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
"In October," he stated, "New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service chose the Kingsbridge Armory for a study through its highly competitive Capstone Program. The Capstone Program is very well-respected, so much so that multiple city agencies have used its services to design and plan major projects. For several months, Capstone has been providing our task force with valuable support as we move forward on developing a new plan for the Armory.
"The report of this task force must be the cornerstone of a new RFP, and I invite the Mayor to join with me to responsibly develop the K ingsbridge Armory. Responsible development means that whatever plan we choose has a direct positive impact on all citizens...." said Diaz.
The Capstone Program is learning in action. Part of the core curriculum of the MPA and MUP programs at Wagner, it provides students with both a critical learning experience and an opportunity to perform a public service. Over the course of an academic year, students work in teams, either to address challenges and identify opportunities for a client organization or to conduct research on a pressing social question. Ultimately, Capstone contributes not only to the students' education, but also to the public good.