Recently, Allison Vick, a graduate student studying public administration at Augusta University, traveled to Atlanta to represent her program and the university at the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Student Simulation Competition.
NASPAA is the accrediting body for public administration programs, and the simulation competition gives graduate students an opportunity to work with other students from NASPAA-accredited schools. Together, students work to solve a policy problem using a simulation.
This year’s competition focused on environmental policy and climate change. The simulation built on the events of the U.N. Conference of Parties 21 Summit in Paris in December 2015.
“We were split into groups, and each group represented a different interest,” Vick explained. “Our goal for the simulation was to work with the other interest groups to find a solution that would lower carbon emissions. My team represented the interests of sustainable energy groups.”
Vick was the only student from the public administration program to participate in the simulation. Even though she is not familiar with many environmental policies, Vick was surprised how much she was able to contribute.
“It was interesting because I didn’t know anything about energy policy,” she said. “My background is in history and education, so I know education policy. It was surprising how much stuff I was able to use that I didn’t think would be applicable. For example, I was able to use stakeholder analysis and SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats).”
Participants were informed ahead of the competition that the simulation would be centered on environmental policy. Then, a few days before the competition, NASPAA sent students reading materials to prepare for the competition. Each participant had the same amount of time with the materials so as not to create an unfair advantage.
“So, everyone had two days to study, and then we were placed into a group with two or three other students,” Vick said. “You can learn so much from other people. I enjoyed being around students with different perspectives.”
Vick appreciated the opportunity to practice what she was learning in class.
“It was fun to use different things we had learned in our programs to create a good product and work together for the simulation,” she said.
Vick is a first-year graduate student, but is already looking at public administration doctoral programs. She enjoys teaching but is now considering a career in policy analysis.
“I fell in love with the public administration program and what I was doing,” she said. “The simulation was a really cool opportunity to see if this was something I enjoyed before starting a career in policy.”
For more information about the public administration program, contact Dr. William Hatcher, director of the public administration program, at email@example.com.