The crisis of policy education in turbulent times: Are schools of public affairs in danger of becoming irrelevant?

The work of crafting sustainable solutions to complex policy problems requires decision makers and implementers to secure buy-in from a diverse set of stakeholders. Those stakeholders operate in policy ecosystems that span public, for-profit, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial sectors. This increasingly complex landscape requires schools of public affairs, policy, and administration to reconsider how to provide graduates with more advanced and integrated skill sets than ever before. Since 2013, several groups of public and educational leaders have met to discuss this challenge, culminating in a collective redesign effort driven to imagine a new public service education curriculum. This essay highlights core issues identified in collective discussions, and then proposes four principles to drive the curricular redesign process: (1) build sustained partnerships between public and educational sectors, (2) focus on competency-based learning, (3) instill a lifelong learning mind-set in students, and (4) integrate new modalities for learning.