If you care deeply about public policy, or even have a passing interest, 2017 probably made your head spin. It was a year where we saw big policy initiatives both moving and stalling, divisions among our political leaders as harsh as they have been in any of our lifetimes, unprecedented attacks on the integrity of public institutions, the vilification of large swaths of our population, and sordid revelations. The way the United States engages the rest of the world broke with decades of precedent, and how the world perceives us was substantially altered. All of this has both provoked and inspired millions—with both approval and revulsion.
In this letter a year ago, I wrote about “a unique political dynamic that has led to a unique policy environment.” You can call me a master of understatement. What I probably understated also, and what has become even more clear, is the importance of an institution such as the Carsey School of Public Policy. When have we more needed graduate programs that teach how to understand public challenges, develop solutions, and navigate the strategic, communications, and political minefields to implement them? When have we more needed rigorous, relevant, unbiased research to inform policy makers, journalists, scholars, and the public? And, with so much dysfunction in our nation’s public life, when have we ever more needed the work Carsey does with policy makers, civic leaders, and communities to develop realistic solutions to difficult problems?
The answer to those questions is that we need these things now more than ever. In the pages that follow, you will find a sampling of what we at Carsey have done this past year. We hope that you will see the value of our work—and engage with us to make our country and our world a better place for ourselves and generations to come.
Michael Ettlinger, Director
Carsey School of Public Policy