MoPA Internship in Washington, D.C.

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Sarah Souza
Master of Public Affairs candidate ’17

As a candidate in the Master of Public Affairs program (MoPA), I am spending the summer completing my internship requirement in Washington, D.C. for theGROUP, an independent strategy, policy and communications firm. The supportive environment on campus helped me find this incredible opportunity. And, the hands-on internship requirement not only allows me to put into practice what I learned in the classroom, but it also gives me the chance to experience living in our nation’s capital!

After one year at MoPA, I felt confident and prepared to work at a prestigious firm. Courses such as Writing for Public Affairs and Research Methods honed my communication and analysis skills – pertinent to this internship. MoPA’s electives allow me to tailor my educational career to my interests and makes me a better intern because I have experience in several fields. Rigorous coursework with experienced professors, such as Ed Harrington teaching Urban Public Finance and Kathleen Koll teaching Immigrant Cities, replicated what the real world is like in public service by combining academia with practicality. Continue reading

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2016 McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento

The McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento participants are immersing themselves in their internships and helping to make a difference from California’s Capitol!

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Isabella Gonzalez Potter: Assembly Member Thurmond’s office.

McCarthy Fellows 2016

Ivette Chow: CalHFA Single Family Lending within the Department of Housing and Community Development.

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Balancing practicality and academia – one guy’s perspective

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Alex Clemens
Founding Partner, Barbary Coast Consulting
Professor in Lobbying, Advocacy, and Governmental Relations

Five years ago, when I was recruited to teach a lobbying class at the (relatively) new Master of Public Affairs (MoPA) program at the University of San Francisco, I think I giggled a little bit. Me? Sure, I’ve been lobbying in San Francisco and the Bay Area for fifteen years, but I have a bachelor’s in Ultimate Frisbee from UC Santa Cruz. I queried Corey Cook, the Director of the Leo McCarthy Center, why he’d made this particular terrible error in judgment. His answer intrigued me.

He wasn’t, he said, trying to stock the program with just academics. Smart academics would be everywhere, to be sure – but he wanted experienced political hands scattered liberally throughout his instructor ranks, as well. “I’m not expecting you to teach them theory – you’re here to show them practice. Tell them what you do. Show them how it’s difficult. Challenge them to understand the choices that you and your clients and the politicians you lobby have to make on a daily basis, and push them to figure out the right answers.” Continue reading

Jumping Back into the First Semester of Graduate School

Jeno Wilkinson - Master of Public Affairs at USF

Jeno Wilkinson
Master of Public Affairs candidate ’17

As I look back on my first semester of graduate school, I remember how I felt starting the Master of Public Affairs (MoPA) program back in August. It had been about a year between finishing my undergraduate work and going back to school, so my chief concern entering the fall 2015 semester was if I would be able to get back into the same routines that had yielded success for me in undergrad.

After the first couple weeks of finding my stride in class, as well as at home, I was able to dive headlong into the courses and materials in front of me. The courses offered in the first semester of the MoPA program were a great way to reground myself on the core pillars of what makes our political system move. Having majored in political science during undergrad, this first semester allowed me to reengage with many of the foundational documents and ideas that guide the political conversations of our day.

As the semester progressed, these foundational steps allowed me to better grasp why things are the way they are today and how looking back at the genesis of these problems and issues can be a tremendous asset in developing how to best proceed forward. By taking this approach, I was able to bring in some of the topics and issues that are close to my heart and use that skillset to help develop possible solutions.

This set the stage for me to be able to write my semester research paper on a topic I care deeply about; politics and sports. By looking into local economic development policies of both Oakland and San Francisco over the past forty years, I was able to see this as at the core of why the two cities have had similar yet very different outcome for seeking new stadiums for their professional baseball teams. Without the great ability, encouragement, and guidance of the MoPA faculty, I would not have been able to draw such conclusions while also writing a research paper that can be used for professional development as well.

My first semester in the MoPA program has showed me that the program has a great ability to take topics I care about and use the courses offered to help further those causes. And while I’m very much enjoying winter break, I do look forward to getting back in the classroom.

Master of Public Affairs - USF

Chris Matthews Visiting Professor Inspires Millennials

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Lauren Feuerborn
Master of Public Affairs candidate’17

At the beginning of the semester in Proseminar of American Politics, our professor told us that Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s HARDBALL would be guest lecturing sometime in November. As time got closer the arrival of Matthews expanded to a reception, a breakfast event and two lectures. We were all pretty excited.

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Then the terror attack in Paris on November 13th changed everything. While we collectively mourned for those lives lost and changed forever, we knew that our time in class would change as well.

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(Artist: Jean Jullien)

Due to safety concerns Chris Matthews was unable to join our class in person. But as a testament to what an amazing person he is, Professor Matthews decided to join our class via video chat. Leading up to our discussion we read his book, Kennedy and Nixon, The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America, so we were prepared to chat about the political history of the U.S and what it looks like today. But what we go was so much more.

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From the minute Chris Matthews sat down in front of the computer he captivated our class. He didn’t just lecture at us, he talked with us. He wanted to know what we thought and how we felt. Professor Matthews’ has an impressive ability to talk about complicated politics like it’s a story. His wealth of knowledge taught me so much about the details that are sometimes hard to find when you read a book or the newspaper. Matthews adds humor and personality to stories that otherwise depress us e.g. gridlock in D.C., political scandals and shady officials. Being a millennial means I wasn’t around during the post Cold War time in America, I don’t know what it feels like to experience air raid drills in school but Matthews is a product of that era. It informs his understanding of politics and thus it provides our class a context for understanding a world that we didn’t live in.

 

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For me, Chris Matthews is the kind of person I could listen to forever. His undeniable intelligence combined with his honesty and humor make everything he says interesting! Clearly it shouldn’t surprise anyone why his TV show is so successful. Most impressive to me was the sense that if he can work as many hours as he does (he joined us after his work day at 9:00pm EST) read as much as he does and learn as much as he does, then I too can balance everything I have to do and I should never complain because I get to do what I love.

As we wrapped up our conversation, I felt hopeful about the future of politics. Professor Matthews reminded me that it is within the power of my generation to make change and create the kind of world we want to live in. I can only imagine how inspired we would all be if Chris Matthews had joined us in person. Hopefully he joins us again and we will continue to learn from him.

Chris Matthews, Visiting Professor in the Masters of Public Affairs program returns to USF campus

Brian Weiner

Professor Brian Weiner
Master of Public Affairs faculty

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s daily news commentary series HARDBALL, political journalist and author, is returning to USF and the Leo T. McCarthy Center as a Visiting Professor in the Masters of Public Affairs program.”

Chris Matthews teaching Master of Public Affairs studentsIn 2014, through a series of serendipitous connections, Chris Matthews spent nearly a week on our campus. Matthews had met Father Privett and expressed an interest in teaching, and his connections to the city (Matthews had written for both the SF Examiner and SF Chronicle) and to Jesuit education (he earned his undergraduate degree from College of the Holy Cross) made USF a good fit, and the Leo T. McCarthy Center the perfect home for Matthews’ foray into teaching. I was slated to teach one of the core courses in the Masters in Public Affairs program (MoPA) entitled, “Public Affairs and Applied Democratic Theory”, and jumped at the chance to host Matthews (a fellow Philadelphian) in our seminar. This course aims to bridge the disciplinary gap between practical issues of public policy and normative questions of political theory, asking students to reflect both on pragmatic questions of what can be done as well as ethical questions of what should be done to meet our most pressing policy dilemmas.

In brief email conversations with Matthews prior to his arrival on campus, we decided to have students read Matthews’s best-selling book, Hardball (for which, of course, his daily news commentary series on MSNBC is named) and to use the book as a jumping-off point for our four seminar discussions.  Hardball describes a political world full of grey—while naïfs tend to be hoodwinked in this world, those without morals are ultimately exposed and fail to achieve their self-serving aims.

Chris Matthews teaching Master of Public Affairs studentsWe explored this vision of politics with Matthews, challenging him to clarify for us the distinction between what he calls, “clean, aggressive Machiavellian politics,” and politics that goes beyond “hardball”, becoming “dirty” politics. We also asked him to reflect on whether the lessons of Hardball are still applicable to contemporary Washington. Students wondered whether our politics has become so fractured, polarized, and mean-spirited that many of the lessons of the book – preaching the virtues of compromise, working with members of the other party, and deal-making – may have become outdated. Matthews seemed inspired by his time in our seminar (and the students definitely had a blast), and in fact, he spoke of his experiences in our class on one of the Hardball shows taped in San Francisco that week.

Notwithstanding the success of Matthews’ first experience teaching for us in MoPA, when outgoing Leo T. McCarthy Center Director Corey Cook asked me to invite Matthews to return to our classrooms, I harbored little hope for a positive response. Not only, of course, are we in the midst of (a ridiculously early) campaign season, which takes Matthews around the country, hosting post-presidential primary debate shows, but his wife is running for Congress.  I had underestimated him—or possibly the pleasure he had experienced engaging with our students—for he accepted our invitation and once again will be leading seminar discussions with our MoPA students.

Kennedy & Nixon by Chris MatthewsThis time he will visit our core seminar in Applied American Politics, where discussion will center around another of his books, Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America. This book provides MoPA students with Matthews’ lively first-hand account of American politics, chronicling his time working in the Senate, running for Congress, serving as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, and as a top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.

We excitedly await our opportunity to engage with Chris Matthews in our attempts to understand American politics more deeply, to reflect on the continuities and discontinuities between American politics and culture, 1946-1970s, to the contemporary period, and to glean his insights as to how one can engage effectively in American politics without losing either one’s soul or one’s sense of humor.