2014 Maxwell Conference

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Maxwell Conference: Managing Wicked Problems in the 21st Century
Hosted by
Public Affairs International Relations Association,
Maxwell School, Syracuse, NY, April 4-5

Open to all: undergrad, grad, faculty, alumni, community
Registration details (please register for each separately):
 Friday Networking Event and Saturday Conference

In the 21st century the boundaries of our cities and nations are becoming ever more porous. In many instances, it’s not clear where a national government’s authority begins and ends and where problems become international in nature. Environmental issues cross borders with impunity. To address national security challenges requires international cooperation and managing health and education deficiencies among the poor and disadvantaged are now international endeavors.

These large, international problems are increasingly being thought of as wicked problems – complex, boundary-spanning issues which require the engagement of a wide variety of stakeholders in devising multi-faceted solutions. We will explore the nature of wicked problems and what solutions public administration and international relations can offer. We will engage a number of topics, including but not limited to those outlined above.

Video Now Available

The following video recordings are available from the conference:

Conference Schedule

Friday April 4, 2014

5:30 – 7:30PM – Networking event with Alumni at The InnComplete, Skytop Road on South Campus.

Come join us for drinks, food and networking at the fabled InnComplete.

Saturday April 5, 2014

8:00 – 9:00AM – Breakfast and Registration

9:00 – 9:30AM – Opening Remarks and Welcome

David Van Slyke, Ph.D., Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy and Professor, Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School.

9:30 – 11:00AM Session One: “Innovation in K-12 Public Education.” Hosted by Education Policy Inquiry Club (EPIC).

The Maxwell Conference Education Panel will discuss the evidence on how American K-12 education systems improve. Their starting point will be the framework presented in the 2010 McKinsey Report “How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better.” The panel, which includes experts from the non-profit, K-12 public school district, and consulting sectors, will examine the various interventions that are effective at each stage of a public school system’s improvement while also highlighting examples from their areas of professional practice that have helped advance student achievement. The panel will also discuss major education reform efforts and analyze the different approaches to education policy implementation used in a variety of urban contexts throughout the United States from Syracuse to Detroit and New Orleans.

Moderated by Kevin Wenzel ‘13, STEM Integration Coordinator with DC Public Schools

Panel participants:

Dr. Zhedric Barbra – Executive Director of School Turnaround, Syracuse City School District

Ting-ting Liang ‘06 – Chief Financial Officer, New Orleans Public Schools

Juliet Squire – Associate Partner of Policy and Thought Leadership, Bellwether Education Partners

Armen Hratchian ‘06 – Vice President, Excellent Schools Detroit

11:15 – 12:45 Session Two: “The Wickedness of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus.” Hosted by Students for Tomorrows Environmental Policy (STEP) with Sense and Sustainability

Environmental problems are inherently wicked, crosscutting traditional academic, governmental, and geographical boundaries, demanding high degrees of collaboration, and resulting in complex trade-offs in management of crucial resources. This session will highlight the perspectives of several academics and practitioners on the food-energy-water nexus and the complexities that governments and managers tackle when faced with this wicked problem.​

With Speaker: Paul Hirsch PhD., Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

1:00 – 2:30PM “The Changing Governance Context.” Lunch with Keynote Speaker Kirk Emerson, Ph.D.

Kirk Emerson, PhD. is Professor of Practice in Collaborative Governance at the School of Government and Public Policy, The University of Arizona. Dr. Emerson is the former director of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Morris K. Udall Foundation (1998–2008).  Her current research focuses on collaborative governance related to climate change, border security, and public lands management.

Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Emerson worked in urban planning for eight years at the Bucks County Planning Commission in Pennsylvania, first as an environmental planner and then as the director of countywide planning. She served as a community mediator in the Philadelphia area, where she gained her initial experience and training in mediating land use and environmental disputes. She received her B.A. from Princeton University, her Master’s degree in city planning from MIT, and her Ph.D. in political science and public policy from Indiana University.

2:45 – 3:45 Session Three: Concurrent Session with presentations, posters and workshops.

National Patterns in Community Initiatives with Amy Goodall-Ayres

Some of the nation’s most intractable issues, including illiteracy, poverty, and poor health, are being addressed with community-wide initiatives emanating from national organizations and government agencies. However, rates of participation are comparatively low. By examining the nature of these initiatives as well as the characteristics of the communities who have committed to participating, we begin to determine the qualities necessary to support these efforts to combat wicked problems. The findings from this research will lay the foundation for a discussion about what various forms of initiatives and the community profiles that engage in them mean for the future of national policy and programs.

Amy Goodall-Ayres is a Central New York native, and MPA candidate at the Maxwell School focusing on Nonprofit Management and Social Policy. She is a John Ben Snow and Vernon Snow Fellow in Nonprofit Management. Prior to Maxwell, she spent five years at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY as Manager of Education & Community Partnerships.

Tiny Homes, Big Hearts: The Barriers to Permanent Supportive Housing for the Homeless and an Innovative Look at What Could Work in Syracuse and Beyond with Andrew Lunetta

Adequately housing those facing chronic homelessness in the United States has, for decades, faced a number of roadblocks. Addictions, lack of affordable housing, and the interests, traditions, and limitations of the many service providers all inhibit permanent housing for some of the country’s most vulnerable. The presentation will delve into the barriers preventing permanently housing those facing homelessness. Through a series of activities, be prepared to gain a better understanding of those barriers and to provide recommendations towards facing those barriers. The presentation will conclude with a hope. A hope for what housing the homeless in Syracuse, New York really could look like.

Andrew Lunetta is an MPA candidate at the Maxwell School and Founder of Pedal To Possibilities, an organization that offers group bicycle rides to men and women facing homelessness. He has worked closely with those facing homelessness in Syracuse for six years and in 2012 opened up a home for men transitioning out of the shelter system, where he himself currently lives.

Political Inequality: How Money In Politics Is Selling Americans Out with Zaid Jilani

$2 billion. That’s how much the last presidential election cost. With the exploding cost of elections, more and more Americans believe that the government is failing to represent those who fail to raise large sums of this money. This session will discuss this problem and ways to tackle it.

Zaid Jilani is an MPA candidate at the Maxwell School. Before returning to school he worked as a journalist and organizer.

Transportation and Access: An Answer to Some of Syracuse’s Most Wicked Problems with Eric Ennis

As the Central New York region looks to the future and how to solve some of the area’s major concerns including food deserts, poverty, the revitalization of Downtown Syracuse and the approaching I-81 dilemma, a possible solution to alleviate these problems lies in the potential for multi-modal transit: creating multiple ways of moving from place to place that are safe and efficient. This presentation will explore what is already being done in the Syracuse area, examine successful projects in other cities that could be replicated here, and identify potential ideas that could be implemented locally in the Central New York region. The goal is to provide information on how investment in transit is changing how cities operate, and the benefits that come with these investments and initiatives.
Eric Ennis is a MPA candidate at the Maxwell School and lifelong Central New York resident with a passion for the future of the region. A 2013 graduate of the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture & Planning, Eric has spent years studying urban planning issues throughout the United States, and wrote his undergraduate thesis titled “An Analysis of OnTrack Passenger Rail” which offers an in-depth analysis on the former transit system that operated in Syracuse from 1994 until 2008.

Development of an Insurance Product for Mexican Immigrants in the United States with Lucia Baltazar

You’ve grown up in the fields and know life is harsh, but have heard about the American dream. “Work hard and you’ll get rewarded”, they say. You are the household head and decide to cross the border. Everyone relies on your income while you’re “on the other side”. Somehow, you manage to cross and start walking through the Arizona desert with 20 more people just like you… What will happen to YOUR family if you don’t make it back? This panel will talk about the barriers Mexican immigrants face for getting life and repatriation insurance services. We will lay out the key design elements that a product would need to cover immigrants’ needs and desires as well as the economic reasoning behind the operation of such a product. In the final part, we will have a discussion about the policy and political concerns for the Mexican and US governments in making these types of products available.
Lucia Baltazar is an MPA candidate at the Maxwell School interested in international development with a background in economics. Her field work experience and research skills increased her interest in the evaluation of public policies through quantitative methods. Currently, Lucia seeks to merge her banking experience and current development studies through research on financial inclusion.

4:00 – 5:30 PM Session Four: “Transnational Security Threats.”

 The world today is home to an increasing number of groups that live outside the traditional norms of sovereignty and traditional values of statecraft. They reject international borders and challenge the authority of multiple states. Their activities occur in numerous jurisdictions and their impact is felt in a diversity of communities. Whether it is the FARC in Colombia, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or Laskhar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, these groups represent a wicked problem – a complex, boundary-spanning issue that can only be solved through the engagement of multiple stakeholders in tackling these groups head on.  We will work together to find common solutions that address a crucial challenge facing the next generation of international security practitioners.  

Moderated by Vice Admiral Robert Murrett (Ret.), Deputy Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) and Professor of Practice, Public Administration and International Affairs

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