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

Direct Line

Winter 2015 Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Experiential Learning

Rockefeller Center Director Andrew Samwick provides commentary on a variety of issues in the Direct Line, which is published at the start of each term. 

Inauguration of Philip J. Hanlon '77

In his inauguration address, President Hanlon issued a call-to-action to build Dartmouth’s academic enterprise around four themes: experiential learning, learning technologies, research impact, and affordability. The programs at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center incorporate all of these themes—most prominently experiential learning—in the realms of public policy and leadership development.

Fall 2014 Rockefeller Center Direct Line - The Theory and Practice of Public Policy in the United States

The start of each term brings a direct line from Rockefeller Center Director Andrew Samwick.

With the arrival of the Fall Term, the faculty and staff of the Rockefeller Center welcomed the Class of 2018 to Dartmouth. Over the next four years, the curriculum and programs at the Center will engage them in the theory and practice of public policy. Public policy is relevant in all areas in which stakeholders are diffuse, problems are complex and interdisciplinary, and solutions must mobilize market and non-market resources.

Spring 2014 Rockefeller Center Direct Line - "The Next Phase of the War on Poverty"

January 8th of this year marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launching of “an unconditional war on poverty in America” in his first State of the Union Address. Taking stock of this effort over the intervening five decades, scholars can point to identifiable reductions in poverty among groups like the elderly who benefited from the most generous programs of the War on Poverty. But the War on Poverty’s motivating challenge of “poverty amidst prosperity” in America is still with us today, and it remains a vexing problem for public policy. 

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Winter 2014

Our programs at the Rockefeller Center are designed to enable our students to acquire both the knowledge that is relevant to public problems and the capacity to use it in ways that will make progress in solving these problems. Many of these problems will have an international dimension, whether comparative or cooperative.

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Fall 2013

Milestone anniversaries are a time for reflection. When the Rockefeller Center was dedicated thirty years ago this week, the world of public policy was very different from today. There was one defining, existential threat – the Soviet Union, and particularly its nuclear arsenal held at bay by threats of mutually assured destruction. It was a challenge not of our own making. Despite their imperfections and the lingering scandals of Watergate a decade earlier, there was a sense that our political institutions could find a way to function in the face of this threat.

Today, we are blessed that this particular nuclear threat has abated. Most of the problems that shape our public policy debates focus on challenges of our own making – a health care system that costs too much for what it delivers, an educational system that no longer offers the widespread promise of upward mobility, inadequate progress against environmental degradation and climate change, and the continued presence of an economic underclass being left behind. Sadly, confidence in our political institutions to contribute to solutions to these challenges is extremely low.

Nearly 30 Years of Dynamic Inquiry: Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Spring 2013

This September marks a special anniversary for the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center. Thirty years ago at its founding, Rodman Rockefeller '54, Nelson's son and a driving force behind the Center's creation, aspired for it to become "a true center of dynamic inquiry, controversy, and cross-fertilization." Speaking at the same ceremony, Dartmouth President David McLaughlin '54 described the challenge of the new Center to "Fill these physical spaces with intellectual excellence. Realize within these walls the excitement and stimulus of the life of Nelson Rockefeller."Each director and staff of the Center in the intervening three decades have had the task of making these aspirations relevant for successive generations of students, faculty, and the wider Dartmouth community.

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Fall 2012

During the last 80 years, no incumbent President seeking re-election has been defeated in the general election unless he first faced serious opposition for his party’s nomination.  Since President Obama faced no opposition in securing the Democratic Party’s nomination, it would be unprecedented in the modern era for him not to carry the election in November.  Prediction markets currently assign a 59.7 percent chanceto President Obama winning re-election.

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Spring 2012

Khan AcademyMITxMBA@UNC.  Higher education is going online, and if it can be online, there is no reason why it cannot be global.  When Ben Wildavsky visitedcampus last month as part of the Leading Voices in Higher Education lecture series, he said, “My real argument is that globalization is a real opportunity. It’s not really something to worry about. That’s fundamentally because it’s not a zero-sum game.” 

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Winter 2012

It is January 2012 – the month of the New Hampshire presidential primary.   Apart from last October’s debate on economic issues hosted by Dartmouth in collaboration with Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and WBIN-TV, the campus has been as quiet as I have ever seen it in a presidential primary season.   In a recent blog post, I attributed this quiet to four factors: an aggressive national debate schedule, Dartmouth’s location in a Democratic part of New Hampshire, the lack of a natural campaigner (like John McCain in 2008) in the current group of Republican candidates, and the irrelevance of fundraising constraints in the campaign so far.

Rockefeller Center Direct Line - Fall 2011

This Fall's Direct Line comes from the Opening Remarks for the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Alumni Conference: Learn. Reconnect. Reflect. that were given on August 19, 2011 by Rockefeller Center Director Andrew Samwick.

Good evening and welcome back. My name is Andrew Samwick, and I have been the director of the Rockefeller Center for the past 7 years. It won’t surprise you to learn that I think that the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program is one of the best opportunities at Dartmouth or that the feedback we have gotten from each successive year of students to experience the program confirms that I am not alone in my assessment.

As the purpose of your gathering this weekend is to learn, reconnect, and reflect, I want to share with you one or two of my reflections on 17 years on the faculty at Dartmouth. It starts with Dartmouth’s mission statement, which was articulated in April 2007 as follows:

Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.


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