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

PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership

Public Policy 85 - From Frankfurt to Basel (aka three countries in one day)

Our final day in Frankfurt began with a visit to the Geldmuseum of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank.  During the tour we were able to learn more about the evolution of money in Germany and the EU.  The fear of hyper-inflation, which seized the German economy in the 1920s, influenced and led to tight German monetary policy for the last century.  We were able to put this acute inflation worry in context given the newer European Central Bank’s chief objective – price stability.  We also discovered delightful visual representations of both The Economist's famed Big Mac Index and the paradigmatic financial bubble and crash, the Dutch tulip mania of 1637.

We next took a Deutsche Bahn train through the countryside to Basel, Switzerland.  Our tickets were initially addressed to Hanover, Germany, instead of Hanover, New Hampshire. This global DHL package chase caused more than a small headache for our Professor, but ended up just fine, as we avoided being forcibly removed from the train. 

Public Policy 85 - The ECB, the IMF, and Global Populism

We began our second day in Frankfurt by puzzling over the public transportation system.  A bit of collaborative mapwork eventually got us on the S-Bahn, headed toward the European Central Bank.  Along the way, much was made of the quietness in the car and the smoothness of the ride.  For those of us used to the rattle and bustle of American public transport, it was quite a change of pace.

At the ECB, we were treated to lecture on the ECB's institutional framework and its monetary policy by Dr. Michael Sturm, Advisor to the Directorate General of International and European Relations.  We weren't the only ones in the audience — we were joined by other groups coming from nearby Mainz, and also Poland and Thailand.  We were, however, first to arrive, representing the positive trend in the PBPL85 Aggregate Punctuality Index.

Public Policy 85 - From Athens to Frankfurt

After five eventful days, we bid a fond farewell to Athens, and began our day with an early morning flight to our next destination: Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital and home to the European Central Bank and Bundesbank.  To keep our final moments of Athens memorable, our caravan of taxis seemed to take the initiative, making it from our downtown Psyri hotel to the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in what must have been record time.

Public Policy 85 - Weekend Sightseeing and a Farewell to Athens

The Parthenon was a delight,

Among additional historic sites,

Like the Temple Olympian,

And Socrates’ prison,

Our sore feet; for tourists, a plight.


At night we explored the Foundation,

Among the best spots in the nation,

To enjoy tasty snacks,

And also relax,

the light shows were quite a sensation.


Today was our last day in Greece,

We enjoyed learning and (relative) peace,

Tomorrow Deutschland,

With more meetings planned,

Now farewell to the fresh feta cheese.

Public Policy 85 - Third Full Day in Greece: Protest and Questions of Economic Justice

During our third full day in Greece, we had the opportunity to explore the city of Athens and all it has to offer.  Many chose to tour a variety of cultural and historical sights, while others chose to observe a large protest that was occurring near the University and Hellenic Parliament, an annual event commemorating the 12/6/2008 police shooting of a 15-year-old student and the riots that followed.  A building we had visited for meetings on each of the two prior days -- the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank -- was now festooned with a freshly spray-painted anarchist symbol on its main entrance.  Indeed, there are no shortages of sightseeing opportunities -- whether political or archeological -- in Athens, and we were grateful for beautiful weather to accompany our mostly open day.

Public Policy 85: Second Full Day in Greece

On the second full day of their trip, we, the students of Public Policy 85, had a full set of deeply-informative conversations with a generous and diverse group of experts.  

These conversations began over an enjoyable breakfast with Nikolas Karamouzis, President at Grant Thornton and former Chairman of the Eurobank Group and Hellenic Bank Association.  The wide-ranging discussion generated throughout the breakfast with Mr. Karamouzis flowed out to the hallways of the Hotel Grand Bretagne, through the streets of Athens, and back to the Bank of Greece. We, at this point a known entity to the security staff, was next welcomed at the Bank of Greece by Spiros Pantelias, Director of the central bank's Financial Stability Department, and his colleague Nikolas Stavrianou of the Financial Stability Department.  This conversation addressed policy reforms and new mechanisms of ensuring financial stability, and also broader questions, fundamental to democratic politics, about executive branch independence and expertise, and how the independent experts tasked with implementing public policy foster trust among the public.

Public Policy 85: First Full Day in Greece

Our day started off with a protest. We could hear it as we made our way toward our first appointment of the day, a tour of the Museum of the Bank of Greece with Dr. Yorgo Seferlis. As we got closer it was clear that the protest was, in fact, right outside of the Museum of the Bank of Greece. We later learned that they were protesting recent staffing changes at one of the nation's largest private bank, Piraeus Bank, rather than Greek public financial institutions. 

After our tour, we met with Professor Dimitros Malliaropoulos, Chief Economist and Director of the Economic Research & Analysis Department of the Bank of Greece, Greece’s central bank. We then walked a few blocks to the National Bank of Greece, one of four Greek private banks, for a meeting with the former Greek Minister of Finance (2014-2015), Professor Gikas Hardouvelis. Next on the agenda was a tour of the Hellenic Parliament, located in an ornate building that formerly housed the royal palace. 

The late afternoon was ours to fill as we pleased. Some explored Athens, many took a nap — we are all pretty jet-lagged. 

Public Policy 85: Arrival in Greece

Despite a snowstorm causing minor delays at Newark International Airport, the students of Public Policy 85: Topics in Global Policy Leadership departed on Monday night for Athens, Greece to begin their two-week research trip to Greece, Germany, and Switzerland to examine the response to the global financial crisis and Eurozone crisis.

After arriving in Athens with a layover in Frankfurt, group was able to briefly explore the city on the way to their first interview with Georgios Pagoulatos, former senior advisor to the Greek Prime Minister and the Director General of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Greece’s leading think tank.

18F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership Practicum Releases Its Final Report

The fall term course began in the classroom with Professor Charles Wheelan ’88 and a select group of students. This year students examined the genesis and implementation of the peace accords signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The final report synthesizes the lesson learned from 10 weeks of study on campus and two weeks of travel in Colombia. It provides relevant background, analysis, and actionable recommendations for the U.S. around the primary research question: What role, if any, does the U.S. have in the implementation of the Colombian peace process?

The two weeks in Colombia were spent speaking with relevant stakeholders in the U.S. and Colombian governments, nongovernmental organizations, social activists and humanitarians, conflict victims, art collectives, and former guerillas at FARC reintegration camps. 

“The importance of travel is twofold,” explains Wheelan, “One is this marriage of learning in the classroom and talking to people on the ground; and two, testing your hypotheses and listening to people who have very conflicting points of view.”

PBPL 85 Talks to Former Colombian President Uribe

After a relaxing weekend in coffee country, the traveled back to Bogota for a final round of meetings. After a bagged breakfast and a few last sips of coffee, we were off. Little did we know the surprise guest we had in store.

Our first stop in Bogota was our long awaited debrief with the U.S embassy. After two weeks of traveling throughout the country and engaging with stakeholders from all sides of the conflict, from FARC ex-combatants to hardline former government officials, we had compiled a long list of questions to gain some firsthand insight on just how the US intends to weigh in on this incredibly complex peace process. Officers from all corners of the foreign service, from public affairs representatives to economic and USAID analysts, shared their professional backgrounds and offered their expert opinions on the peace process. We discussed the issues of justice and human rights, extradition policy, the state of Colombia’s ongoing infrastructure projects, as well as the embassy’s relationship with the Colombian media. We left the embassy with both some deeper insights into US policy in Colombia, and perhaps our best group photo.


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