Even reading the syllabus for Comparative Management and Policy Analysis in A Global Context is enough to inspire jet lag. The course, which this year focused on food policy as it relates to social justice, hunger and sustainability, recently took graduate students through six European countries over 18 days.
Exploring these food issues in a global context involved briefings by premier organizations on food policy, such as the World Food Programme, with stops in St. Petersburg, Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Munich, Bavaria, Florence and Rome.
The Master of Public Administration Europe trip, now in its 11th year, tackles a different subject on each trip. Often, alumni also enroll in this opportunity to gain a global perspective on the work of experts abroad. (Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, LW’74, traveled with the group in years past.)
“I gained a huge amount of knowledge about sustainability and food policy issues as well as food production, energy consumption and how our global systems are impacted by the choices we make,” said MPA alumna Cate Newberg, who traveled with the group. “We enjoyed interesting speakers and topics in classes before we left and some continued during travels. It is amazing how these issues affect industries and people throughout the world in unique ways.”
Newberg said that she will apply lessons learned to her position as marketing director for the Iowa Soybean Association.
“It was interesting to hear what others believe about soy products and production and to think about how I can use that information to make us better,” she said.
This year’s trip was preceded by a Jan. 14 Innovation and Leadership Conference with the same food policy theme. It featured presenters who are directly involved in food policy issues at the grassroots level and at the regional and national levels in production, research, teaching and advocacy.
“By choosing topics that have a transnational perspective, students get a much broader and more complete view of the issue,” said Allen Zagoren, associate professor of public administration.
Zagoren and Lance Noe, director of the Center for Professional Studies, each contribute leadership for the trip with originator and lead professor, C. Kenneth Meyer, the Thomas F. Sheehan distinguished professor of public administration.
Faculty are already in the process of planning the 2012 MPA Europe trip. The proposed theme for next year’s trip is green urbanism — the reemergence of a city as it relates to changes in the environment. This will revisit the topic explored in the course in 2005, which received the Silver Award for Environmental Best Practice from the Green Foundation, presented in British Houses of Parliament.