The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Policy Minor

PBPL 85 Drafts Policy Memo During their Final Few Days in Liberia

After looking forward to our Liberia trip for nearly six months, I can’t believe that it is almost over! Oh, how I will miss my fresh* papaya and pancakes in the morning! Oh, how I will miss our giant van and our lovely drivers, Bedna, James, and Jimmy! Oh, how I will miss the cultural landmark that is Monroe Chicken… actually, I probably won’t miss Monroe Chicken that much. 

In our last few days in Liberia, we are all working hard to complete our memo, especially since we all seemed to procrastinate writing our citations until the very end. Last night (technically early this morning), our diligent editors woke up at 4am to edit our first complete draft, while the rest of the team tried to get some sleep. This afternoon, we took a quick memo break to explore a street fair hosted by the U.S. Embassy, and to grab some lunch at a local Lebanese restaurant. On our excursion, we discovered that Professor Wheelan is not very good at bargaining with street vendors. Since there is little tourism in Monrovia, we were relieved to finally secure a few souvenirs before our trip home tomorrow.

PBPL 85 Visits Chimpanzee Island

Today, the students of Public Policy 85 were able to have a serious once-in-a-lifetime experience in Liberia. They were able to venture about an hour out of Monrovia along the coastal road to a beach side village. There, they were greeted by a parade, complete with snare drums, saxophones and many local school children marching and dancing. However, that wasn’t the first unanticipated event of the trip. 

PBPL 85 Meets with World Bank Officials

Another exciting day here in Liberia! We survived our last day of meetings with two very exciting visits. In the morning, we met with the World Bank’s Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, and her team. This was one of the most productive and insightful meetings we’ve had in the country. We were able to discuss Liberia’s economic priorities with a group of really knowledgeable professionals, and gained great insight about what steps to recommend to the new government. Before we left we took a picture in front of the World Bank Christmas tree. We tried really hard, but sadly could not get Anthony to smile. Maybe tomorrow when we visit Chimpanzee island!

PBPL 85 Visits the Liberian Revenue Authority

The day began at 8:30am to the cacophonous sounds of Tubman Boulevard, one of Monrovia’s main streets. My shower which does either ice cold or scorching hot decided it would be an ice cold day and my shirt, which does either white or stained, decided it would be a stained day. My big decision of the day was switching my allegiance from Monroe Chicken to The Hub. Hopefully my GI tract agrees with this. It’s been well behaved thus far.

The day began with a meeting at the Liberian Revenue Authority. This was far and away the nicest building that we have visited. The inside of the building looked like it could have been a bank in the United States. The boardroom was well equipped with presentation materials and we were served an assortment of nuts. The meeting shed some light on the different forms of revenue collection across the country. It was interesting to hear about the organization’s efforts to expand revenue collection efforts by appealing to the national sentiment and creating a shift in the culture.

PBPL 85 Meets with Liberia’s National Health Institute Officials

After a relaxing weekend at the beach in Robertsport, we headed into our meetings Monday feeling energized. We first met with the director and staff of Liberia’s National Health Institute. These health experts fought the 2014 Ebola crisis from its earliest stages, and we discussed the difficulty the country has retaining medical professionals, the contributions of international aid, and the institute’s plan for the next major crisis. Director of USAID in Liberia Tony Chan later treated us to an economist’s perspective on Liberia’s development path during an evening in his own living room. We ended the day at an Ethiopian restaurant in town enjoying lively discussion and heavenly injera bread.

We began a full day of meetings on Tuesday with multiple officials at the Carter Center, where we learned about their work promoting access to justice and legal counseling throughout the country. Shortly after, Peter Wilson of the US African Development Foundation answered a litany of questions on agriculture and land reform necessary for our group to recommend policies in our memo that will promote key exports such as rice for generations to come. 

PBPL 85 Travels to Robertsport, Liberia

During the weekend of December 2nd we travelled to Robertsport, a Liberian town located right along the beach a few hours out from the capital. On Saturday morning, we scrambled to store our luggage and squeeze into our four-wheel drive, terrain-adaptive vehicles. Deciding on which vehicle to enter proved to be a fateful choice for four students in particular, myself included. Thirty minutes into our sweaty excursion, our good friend Steve, the driver, pulled over. The imaginable had happened: the AC in the car was broken. After about half an hour of work on the car, Steve claimed the AC had been fixed. This was hardly true, but we scurried along our path anyways.

PBPL 85 Visits the Supreme Court of Liberia

With election tensions running high, Public Policy 85 students attended what is most likely one of the most important Supreme Court cases in Liberian history. One of the candidates in the October 10th election challenged the results, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The run-off election cannot go forward until this issue is resolved.

At 9 am, we arrived to hear cases argued by the Liberian National Elections Commission and the Liberty and Unity parties, two of the 20 parties that ran in the first round. We secured seats in upper gallery (very hot) and sat through the whole hearing (very long). The nation is hoping to make the first peaceful democratic transition of power since 1943. The Supreme Court has 7 days to announce its decision, so we will be here for that. 

Later that night, students dined with Patrice Juah, a former Miss Liberia and a past visitor to Hanover as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative. Patrice invited several local friends and we were able to have informal discussions on Liberian culture. 

"LIB is the place to be." 

PBPL 85 Visits the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia

After 22 hours in the air, 5 airplane meals, and 3+ flights, we have made it to Liberia! 

We got to our hotel at 1 am on Thursday morning and after a short nap we left for our first meeting with Stephen Kissik, a Senior Police Leadership Advisor. He is an American that has been contracted to train and advise the Liberian National Police. Kissik discussed the lack of 'functional corruption,' or a type of corruption that results in increased economic productivity. In an ideal world there would be no bribery, but since there is corruption, Kissik argued you want it to result in a positive economic outcome. In Liberia, you may be able to pay someone to get a specific permit, only to be fined by another organization for not having their similar version of that permit. This makes it very difficult to start and run a business in the country. 

After lunch, we went the US Embassy in Monrovia to talk to Ambassador Christine Elder and her staff. We talked about very interesting stuff, but it was all off the record so... 

Experiential Learning: PBPL 85 Global Policy Leadership

Global citizenship and engagement are key. Understanding one’s place in the world and the complexities of international policy dilemmas truly allow for one to become a global citizen—an identity especially important in our modern world. At Dartmouth, every year, Public Policy 85: Global Policy Leadership (PBPL 85) offers our public policy students a unique experimental learning opportunity that allows them to deconstruct cross-cultural barriers and become well versed in the intricacies of global policy through a combination of classroom instruction and international travel.

The course begins in the classroom during the fall term, when a select group of students study the history and context of a public policy challenge in a particular country or region. Students are introduced to the process of assessing problems and developing solutions to the challenge, practices important to cultivating civically engaged, global leaders.

Welcome Class of 2021

Students who come to the Rockefeller Center find a home, mentors, and engaged peers.

The Rockefeller Center has a specially designed First-Year Fellows program for the Class of 2021 that begins by taking Public Policy 5 in the winter term of 2018. Public Policy 5 is the introductory course in the Public Policy minor, which allows students to customize their own interdisciplinary plan of study around an important public policy area that they define, such as health, education, the environment, leadership, law, poverty, or urban issues.

There are additional programs open to first-year students, such as Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors, Student Discussion Groups, and Peer Mentoring.

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