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

PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership

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.

PBPL 85 Visits Dnipro, Ukraine

This past Monday, Professor Shaiko and the Political and Legal Team (Andrew Weckstein, Michelle Li, Kevin Zhang) took a trip to Dnipro, an Eastern city only 100 miles west of the conflict in the Donbas. Although Dnipro is home to nearly 2 million people, the downtown area seemed more like a sprawling town than one of the largest cities in Ukraine. The cold weather, grimy streets, and eerie music on the bus gave Dnipro a somber and Soviet feel.

Our first interview was with a representative from “StopFake,” an organization aiming to identify and refute false information presented in the media. This interview provided an interesting perspective on the “Hybrid War” between Russia and Ukraine and the impact of Kremlin propaganda on the Ukrainian public.

Our next interview was at Dopomoga Dnipra, a local NGO organization that provides social services and supports for those displaced by the conflict in the Donbas. Located in a formerly abandoned building, the run-down infrastructure housed some of the most enthusiastic and passionate civil activists that we have met this trip.

PBPL 85 Visits the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine

Grey skies; grey buildings. Churches standout: painted lemon yellow and tangerine orange, splashed with gold and pink. They’re bizarre tropical phantasies in land of Soviet phantoms. It’s welcome contrast for travel-weary eyes. Brutalist and bright, these architectural paradoxes blur past our van as we wind our way towards the Embassy.

Winter has arrived in Kiev. Snowflakes drift easily on a dry breeze. A security guard taps ash from a cigarette. He fixates on the windows of our van. I nod hello; he glares back greetings. His green camouflage uniform looks out of place in the grey-and-white checkerboard of Eastern Europe in December.

We get out. Inside the Embassy more security guards size up the group. No electronics, no water, no nonsense. They mean it. Of the fourteen of us, twelve are suspect: goods confiscated and bodies re-scanned. Burgeoning democracy though it may be, in Ukraine, you respect authority.

From Theory to Practice: PBPL 85 Global Policy Leadership

Experiential learning is central to the pedagogical vision of President Hanlon ’77. Public Policy 85: Global Policy Leadership (PBPL 85) perfectly translates that vision into reality for our public policy students every year.

The course begins in the classroom during the fall term, where 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.

The class then travels to the country or region during Dartmouth’s winter interim to conduct field research. Students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

The PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership Class Travels to Israel and Jordan

PBPL 85 combines the study of public policy with an experiential learning opportunity abroad. The course begins in the classroom with Professor Charles Wheelan ’88 during the fall term. The topic studied this year was the U.S. strategy for revitalizing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The class then spent the first two weeks in December traveling to Israel and Jordan where they met with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, journalists, business leaders, U.S. diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their study of the topic.

“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 at the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

After a relaxing day spent at the Dead Sea, the class hit the ground running on Monday, December 14th in Amman, Jordan.

We had our first meeting of the day with James Fromson. Fromson works for Mayday Rescue NGO, which trains the Syrian Civil Defense. Fromson has coauthored pieces with one of our previous speakers, Steve Simon, and was able to provide an interesting prospective as an American living in Jordan. After this meeting, we headed on the bus to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the Foreign Ministry, we had the opportunity to meet with the Director of International Relations and Organizations, Leena AlHadid, and Ibrahim Awawdeh, the Director of the North American Department. Qais Biltaji, the First Secretary to the Private Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, and Mohammed Hindawi also joined us. The panel was able to provide insight into Jordan’s relationship with the U.S. and its role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Once the meeting concluded, we left the Foreign Ministry and went to a nearby sharwma stand for lunch.

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