More than ever, higher ed has a role to play in preparing students for public service.
By Goldie Blumenstyk for the Chronicle of Higher Education
"If the past seven months have shown us anything, certainly the importance of functional governments has got to be high on the list. It’s also why I’ve been eager to explore how the pandemic has affected several efforts that encourage college students to embrace public service and careers in government.
Here's the short version: While the health and economic crises have interrupted and limited some of these projects logistically, fundamentally student and institutional interest in them seems to be stirred, not deterred. In California, eight colleges are pressing ahead with a state-backed Civic Action Fellowship program, the Volcker Alliance is helping Arizona State University create new versions of its Public Service Academy at several other major universities, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society awarded its first 20 scholarships in a program to promote public service. More interesting is the ways the pandemic could make these efforts — and the institutions behind them — more relevant.
The stirred interest in public service is, in itself, kind of striking to me. When I first wrote about the Volcker Alliance trying to make government work seem sexy to young people, I considered its mission a noble but uphill battle, largely because Republicans have so denigrated government service for 40 years and because the private and nonprofit sectors have seemed a more attractive alternative."