In New Leadership Role, Dean Laura Bloomberg Calls for Public Policy Educators to Become 'Humble Learners'

Bloomberg is elected president of NASPAA, which oversees public policy schools, in a chaotic time
October 19, 2020
Head shot of Laura Bloomberg
Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg is the new president of NASPAA, the Network of Schools
of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration. Photo: Bruce Silcox

Laura Bloomberg, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has been elected president of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Bloomberg officially took over the presidency during NASPAA’s annual conference last week, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

NASPAA is a prominent international organization overseeing public and global policy education, and is the globally recognized accreditor of these programs.

Bloomberg begins her leadership of the organization at a critical time, with overlapping crises including a global pandemic, a resulting economic recession, unprecedented climate and weather events, and racialized violence that are challenging public policy makers and educators in unprecedented ways. 

These issues are not separate and distinct, Bloomberg said in her acceptance speech, noting that their impact is felt most heavily by people who are already disadvantaged. 

Referring to the theme of this year’s conference, Building a New Civic Square in an Age of Polarization, Bloomberg called on the member colleges and universities to consider their role in the current public dialogue.   

“As a dean and as president of NASPAA, I believe I have a fundamental imperative to nurture learning organizations; [we must be] organizations that truly learn from this moment in time,” Bloomberg said. “We need to cultivate this ethos—not only for our students, but for ourselves. We must adopt a position of true openness and humble curiosity about what we don’t know about this moment, this pandemic, this racial reckoning, this chasm in political ideology. A thriving civic square demands it of us.” 

Bloomberg acknowledged she doesn’t have the answers for how to accomplish this, but suggested that it involves accepting some chaos into the orderly structure of higher education institutions. 

“My image of a thriving civic square is one alive with [both chaos and order], where we shake loose enough of our structure and ways of ordering ourselves and our institutions, to engage authentically with the disorder and pain and the chaos in our world,” Bloomberg said. “In the year ahead let’s mingle a little messiness with a little order, and make this a time of humble learning as we move toward an increasingly responsive and inclusive NASPAA.”

Bloomberg has been dean of the Humphrey School since June 2017. For the past year, she was NASPAA’s vice president/president-elect. Previously, she chaired NASPAA’s commission on peer review and accreditation. She is also in the middle of a two-year term on the executive committee of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA).

NASPAA is a nonprofit membership association with over 300 institutional member schools at U.S. and non-U.S. universities that award degrees in public administration, public policy, public affairs, nonprofit and related fields. Its mission is to ensure excellence in education and training for public service, and to promote the ideal of public service.