Student public service value priorities

Debates about trade-offs among values are central to the field of public administration and to graduate education in public affairs. Accreditation guidelines from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) direct graduate programs to articulate the public service values that guide their curricula. Moreover, student ability to articulate a public service perspective is one of the universal competencies for NASPAA accredited programs. Scholars have defined and cataloged myriad values that guide work in professional public service. Still, many programs lack insight into how new students perceive and prioritize public service values. This essay advocates measuring student public service value priorities to aid programs in their discussions of public service values in curriculum design. An example using Q-methodology and data from a new MPA student cohort is reported to illustrate the value of investigating public service value priorities. This essay concludes by describing how an understanding of student public service values priorities can help faculty maintain a curriculum responsive to students.