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How School of Public Service Students Are Tackling Real World Problems

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Photo of Dean Corey Cook

September, 2017

The School of Public Service, like so many Idahoans, are mourning the loss of Governor Cecil D. Andrus. While Governor Andrus’ contributions to the Gem State are immeasurable, the School of Public Service is particularly grateful for his work establishing the Andrus Center for Public Policy. The Andrus Center advances his legacy by championing wise use of our environmental resources and public lands, proper funding of education for our children and the cultivation of leadership from all segments of our society. A permanent exhibit honoring Governor Andrus will be housed in the recently-announced School of Public Service building, currently in the planning stages. In our increasingly uncivil public sphere, the Governor’s rare combination of passion, patience, good will and civility serves as a model for current and future leaders. He will be missed.

We live in a time of rapid and constant change. Today’s university students will soon be tasked with solving problems that don’t yet exist. So how can we as a university give them the tools they need to thrive as individuals and to make a positive impact in their world? When so much about the future is still unknown, some of the most valuable lessons we can teach are the skills for identifying, analyzing and finding solutions for difficult challenges.

In this issue of Public Interest, we’ll share a few examples of how we are preparing students to tackle complex situations head-on. Whether we’re analyzing how local democratic practices change lives in Brazil, working for solutions to food insecurity, connecting students with service-minded professionals working in their field, or even working on ways to preserve a clear night sky, we understand the importance getting our hands dirty to solve real problems.

Corey Cook
Dean, School of Public Service
Boise State University

Photo of night sky with stars and a treeline

Master of Public Administration students help preserve views of the night sky

Light pollution makes the beauty of the stars a rare sight for many urban dwellers. But, with a little help from Boise State Master of Public Administration students, a region in Central Idaho is on track to become the nation’s first Dark Sky Reserve, preserving clear night skies for astronomers and dreamers alike.

A Fall 2016 MPA Capstone class produced the Dark Sky Reserve Designation Guidance Report for the Idaho Conservation League (ICL). For the project, the class analyzed the social, economic, and ecosystem benefits of a Dark Sky Reserve between Ketchum and Stanley and produced a feasibility analysis. Their report is being used extensively in the application and Reserve development.

“This wasn’t a one time project.” said Dr. Monica Hubbard, the Boise State Public Policy and Administration professor who taught the class. “It created opportunities for Boise State students to work on future community and academic projects with the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies.”

Photo of MPA students

Public Policy and Administration students learn how to make a difference through real-world experience

Master of Public Administrations students gain hands-on experience through service-learning projects, learning how to solve current problems. Recently a Master’s level class investigated food insecurity among Boise State students and shared their findings and recommendations in a public presentation on Boise State’s campus.

Course instructor Wendy Jaquet thinks that grappling with real issues facing students is an important part of the learning process. “I try to make sure that my students experience working on an issue that is close to home. I believe that this prepares them for the practice of public administration in the real world.”

Read How MPA Students Are Learning How To Make A Difference on Our Website >

photo of Dr. Brian Wampler and MPA student Ana Costa in Brazil

Exploring How Local Democracies Affect Quality of Lives in Brazil

Political Science professor Brian Wampler spent three weeks in northeast Brazil working on an ongoing book project exploring how local democratic practices affect the quality of people’s lives. While in Brazil, Wampler also participated in an academic conference and gave a presentation to a federal think tank.

Master of Public Administration student Ana Costa also worked in support of the project. Costa was responsible for developing and writing case studies of three municipalities. In Brazil, Costa identified interview candidates, set up interviews, and helped conduct interviews with more than 45 people.


Photo of Marilyn Shuler and Cecil Andrus
Photo Credit: Marilyn T. Shuler Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Albertson’s Library.

Marilyn Shuler Gift and Match Challenge helps raise a new generation of Idaho leaders

Marilyn Shuler and Governor Cecil Andrus held a shared belief in the importance of education. So it’s fitting that Marilyn Shuler would leave a gift to further the work on the issues she and Governor Andrus cared about so deeply.

For every dollar the Andrus Center raises through this campaign, the Marilyn Shuler estate will match it dollar for dollar, doubling the positive impact for students while also honoring the legacies of both Marilyn Shuler and Governor Cecil Andrus.


Photo of Jennifer StevensJennifer Stevens Joins School of Public Service

Historian Dr. Jennifer Stevens has joined Boise State University as a Professor of the Practice. She works with the School of Public Service’s Urban Studies and Community Development program as well as the College of Arts and Science’s History Department.

Stevens has worked as a professional historian for nearly 25 years and is the principal and president of Stevens Historical Research Associates in Boise.

Amanda Ashley, Director of our Urban Studies and Community Development program, said of Stevens, “Dr. Stevens is a true public servant and community innovator. Her cutting-edge practice, committed civic involvement and award-winning research reflects the soul of our school mission.”

On September 21, Stevens will receive a 2017 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in History from Boise City Mayor David Bieter and the Boise City Department of Arts & History.

Read About Jennifer Stevens in Idaho Business Review >

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Public Policy Research Center wraps up Operations

After five years at Boise State, the Public Policy Resource Center has completed operations.

The PPRC provided research and mentoring opportunities through support of over 20 students on externally funded research projects and over 10 Boise State faculty members as research fellows or through PPRC travel and development grants. These interdisciplinary research and collaborative efforts have resulted in a significant number of peer reviewed articles and other scholarship products and have increased awareness of Boise State research capacity and interests across the globe.

Photo of honorees
Photo credit: Allison Corona. Pictured: Marianne Hudson, Luke Fowler, Jeffey Lyons. Twyla Perkins was unable to attend.

Honoring excellence

Three faculty and one staff member were recently honored for their excellent work.

  • Excellence in Teaching Award:  Jeffrey Lyons, Political Science
  • Excellence in Research Award:  Luke Fowler, Public Policy & Administration
  • Excellence in Service Award:  Marianne Hudson, Criminal Justice
  • SPS Administrative Staff Award: Twyla Perkins