University News

Nordlund to head Master’s of Public Affairs program

Former NYU senior administrator plans to grow, increase recognition of Watson Institute

Contributing Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2016

As associate director, Carrie Nordlund MA’01 PhD’06 will oversee the Masters of Public Affairs program at the Watson Institute.

The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs welcomed Carrie Nordlund MA’01 PhD’06 as the new associate director of the Public Policy Program and senior administrator of the Master’s of Public Affairs Program earlier this month.

Nordlund arrived at Brown fresh out of her position at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. There, she oversaw faculty of the graduate and undergraduate programs in public policy.

At Brown, in addition to the MPA program, she will assist in running the undergraduate public policy concentration, facing competition in winning over students also drawn to international relations, political science and history.

The Brown MPA program is a newly designed one-year  program in which students gain critical skills in analysis, global policy and work in the field. The program allows its students the opportunity to specialize in a specific policy area and gain hands-on experience in a 12-week consultancy, in which they are assigned a specific project to tackle. Students are also required to make international education part of their studies through a two-week, immersive global policy program.

As she takes the helm of the MPA program, Nordlund’s number one priority is to build a strong class for next year to ensure the program’s success and visibility on campus, she said. She also hopes to strengthen the undergraduate public policy program by distinguishing it from other concentrations such as political science and by increasing the number of undergraduate concentrators.

Nordlund aims to build and maintain the momentum that the MPA program has already gathered as well. Last year, leaders at the Watson Institute  reshaped the MPA program so that it could be completed in one year rather than two. Nordlund said that these changes should continue to inform the program’s future growth.

Looking outward, she is challenged to distinguish Brown’s MPA degree from the numerous graduate programs that exist today. Because the Brown MPA program lasts only one year rather than two, Nordlund believes that it is positioned uniquely among other programs in the country.

“Students will think, ‘I don’t really have two years. I for sure don’t have time for a PhD. Three years is really stretching it — but one year? I might have one year,’” Nordlund said.

She also believes that the Brown brand bolsters the strength of the MPA program. The name recognition associated with the University increases prospective students’ excitement surrounding the program. She also wants to publicize the program to undergraduate public policy concentrators on campus.

Nordlund noted that the program’s small class size distinguishes it from those of other institutions. Other school’s public policy programs range from about 300 to 400 students. Brown’s MPA program constitutes no more than 60 students, which allows for each graduate to get a lot of attention from faculty members, she said. Faculty members will not only know the names and backgrounds of students, but will make sure that each graduate will be placed in a post-graduate career best-suited to their studies.

The Brown MPA is also the only program in the country that has a required international component. Students travel to one of the international sites that the program has set up outside of the United States to meet with policy makers, experts and entrepreneurs in the policy field.

The global policy experience and the 12-week consultancy placement have been huge successes in the program, creating networking opportunities for graduates to secure future employment and allowing the graduates to explore different sectors to see where they fit in best, Nordlund said.

Nordlund will work closely with several of the Watson staff members, including Jim Morone, director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy, and Edward Steinfeld, director of the Watson Institute, who both said they are thrilled that she will be joining their team.

“She really knows public policy and is really committed to social justice and social change,” Morone said.

Steinfeld noted Nordlund’s rich experience as a senior-level administrator at the NYU public policy program will inform her administrative effort in many aspects of the MPA program, such as recruitment and curricular management issues.

“She’s done it successfully before, and now … we (will) work with her to do it successfully again here at Brown,” Steinfeld said.

Morone said he hopes that, through the MPA program, the University will come to be associated with a policy analysis program that is both rigorous and associated with global social change. He believes that Nordlund is the embodiment of this goal.

“Carrie will be indispensable as (the MPA program) takes flight,” Morone said. “We’re counting on her to see how to take Brown to not just the next level, but the level after that.”

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