Humphrey School News

Aligned in Purpose

2017 Newsletter Message from Dean Laura Bloomberg

November 30, 2017—At the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, our core priorities undergird all that we do: we are working to advance hope, opportunity, and equity in a changing world and a changing America. We achieve this by aligning our research talents with our capacity to strengthen participatory democratic practices and civic life.  

I am proud to present the following news stories, which showcase how our scholars are developing innovative policy models to expand the human and economic security of vulnerable citizens, address complex challenges of concurrently feeding the world and protecting natural resources, and probe the implications of the world’s ever-evolving technological capacity, and ensure sustainable cities.   

This is complicated work. Our strong belief is that the multi-faceted challenges we face as a society defy simple, single-sector solutions.

Consider the old adage that for every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple—and wrong.

In fact, attempts to implement quick and simple solutions to grand challenges may more likely create worse problems. And yet, leaders in public life are too often encouraged and reinforced for offering simple answers and quick solutions. Some would have us believe that these kinds of challenges require high levels of centralized control; as situations grow more problematic, power should shift to the top (with leaders who know what to do).  

As a school, we are committed to the belief that we advance better policies with a leadership approach that crosses our divisions (be they sectoral, geographic, or ideological). Our research suggests that when situations grow more complex, broadening the base of leadership and engagement often yields better outcomes. This may be particularly true at the intersections that hold the most tension in our shared public life: where individual freedoms and the common good seem to collide; where sustaining a healthy environment appears in conflict with economic vitality; where local priorities seem in opposition to global realities.

We are aligned in the Humphrey School’s mission to advance the common good in a diverse and changing world.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey frequently described his vision of leadership in public life as “a relentless, prudent, and probing concern for the future.” This fall, as the Humphrey School of Public Affairs commemorates the 40th anniversary of its founding in his memory, we remain ever focused on the future and our relentless drive toward excellence in pursuit of our common good.

—Dean Laura Bloomberg

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