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Educating leaders for lasting change

Every ambitious graduate wants to make a change; to positively impact the world around them in a meaningful and long-lasting way. But it can be difficult to know how to turn that desire into action, how to make a career out of your passion – or even where to start.

Most people are passionate about some injustice in the world; whether that be gun control in the US or rising levels of homelessness, education inequality or growing levels of national debt. And in an ever-changing world comes ever-changing issues, growing in complexity and begging to be fixed.

A degree in the field of policy could be the answer that you seek.

The number of problems in the world can seem endless, with many being pressing and intensely complicated. For those who are passionate about solving these problems, education is a necessary portal to bringing about positive change.

Images courtesy of George Mason University – Schar School of Policy & Government

Come graduation you could see yourself heading towards leading a government or non-profit organisation, creating consulting solutions or expert analyses to better understand important issues and how to solve them, or otherwise developing important public policies. The routes graduates choose are varied, but all focus on one thing: addressing the world’s convoluted list of injustices.

For better and worse, the world is in a constant state of flux. As one problem is solved a new one is created, and policy graduates are the ones who stand up and address them.

But working towards a better future doesn’t just involve solving problems – the solutions must be sustainable and have to last long after the leader has finished implementing them.

A policy-related degree will reward you will the knowledge, skills and experience needed to turn your thoughts into actions and create real, lasting change within the world.

So, you’ve decided to pursue your ambition to better society, but where should you begin? Check out these four schools that could be just the answer!

SCHAR SCHOOL OF POLICY AND GOVERNMENT, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY – ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA

Where better to study policy than in the capital of one of the world’s most powerful countries? Students at the Schar School of Policy and Government benefit from the buzz of a powerful corporate city – Washington, DC – which can be found on their doorstep while they reside in tranquil suburban Virginia. This grants students the best of both worlds, promising a safe campus environment with the DC metro area just a few minutes away.

The school recognises that not every student is suited to a typical class schedule. To allow students to study while pursuing other avenues – like internships or even employment – classes are generally scheduled for the evenings. The Schar School boasts top-ranked programs at all levels of study, including undergraduate, master’s, and PhD programs. Recently, Foreign Policy Magazine ranked the Schar School’s graduate programmes among the world’s best for international relations careers.

Here, professors bring real-world experience into the classroom. The Schar School faculty includes the former director of the CIA and NSA, a former ambassador, a member of the Scientist Working Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, as well as many other leaders in their fields. Students benefit from the school’s targeted career mentorship programme as well as networking assistance.

George Mason University itself is no stranger to international applicants, attracting students from over 120 countries worldwide and all 50 US states. Regardless of where in the world you’re from, here, you’ll feel at home.

JOHN GLENN COLLEGE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY – COLUMBUS, OHIO

John Glenn strives to develop students into successful leaders who make a significant contribution to the surrounding world.

The college seeks to take learning out of the classroom setting, recognising that real learning doesn’t just come from a textbook. Instead, John Glenn help students undertake internships, service opportunities and work with community partners in order to break free from the four walls of the classroom. This way, students gain first-hand experience of real-world issues and are able to learn on-the-job.

John Glenn shows students how governments, non-profits and private firms collaborate to make a positive change, emphasising the need to work together and merge multiple perspectives.

Students hope to finish university with more than just a degree, and the John Glenn school supplies just this by helping them build a professional network, on top of forging valuable connections within the collaborative environments in which they have studied and loved.

This college grants graduates the tools needed to turn their talent into a fulfilling career, teaching them how to ‘turn passion into policy’.

GERALD R. FORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN

Located in Michigan and named one of the best college towns in the US, Ann Arbor offers Ford School students the benefit of membership to the largest living alumni body in the world.

The school describes itself as ‘full-service’; offering degrees that are nationally-recognised for excellence at all levels of study. Its extensive programs keep the school’s core values at heart; integrity, service, action, and leadership to advance and improve the world.

Ford School boasts a progressive history, granting the first systematic public service training program in the US when it was founded at the height of the Progressive Era movement more than a century ago. The Ford School remains at the very top of its game.

The institute itself is a tight-knit yet dynamic community, built on a resounding passion about the same thing: changing the world for the better. A mix of dedicated students and faculty work collaboratively to hone their unique interests towards the overriding goal of positive change.

Here, faculty are experts in their fields, constantly engaging with the world and making transformational discoveries. From senior government officials to both current and former members of the Council of Economic Advisers, from U-M provost to the chief medical officer for the State of Michigan; the school has many practising lecturers from a broad range of backgrounds.

JOHNSON SHOYAMA GRADUATE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF REGINA/SASKATCHEWAN – CANADA

Students at Johnson Shoyama Graduate School (JSGS) benefit from being a part of two universities; the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. This innovative collaboration gives students the advantage of double the resources, granting them access to a wealth of knowledge obtained, collectively, by both higher education providers.

Since both universities partnered to create the renowned JSGS, the school has become one of Canada’s leading policy schools for educating graduate students and public servants committed to bettering the world.

JSGS faculty are devoted to research and writing, as well as to inspire the next generation of leaders to follow in their charge. Through rigorous research, faculty from both universities work to deepen the level of knowledge and understanding policymakers use when refining their policies. Together with respected professors, students work as a collective and individually to create positive change, for both issues affecting Canada and the wider world.

Hosting a wide range of postgraduate programs and a wealth of lecturers with a passion for their respective fields, it would be near impossible not to find something to keep you interested, engaged and motivated for the duration of your course and beyond, into the workplace.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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