Classes begin at GMU’s merged policy, government units

By Buzz McClain
George Mason University

Graduate students present their recommendations for the new Silver Line Metro stations as part of their transportation policy class. (Photo by Alexis Glenn)

Graduate students present their recommendations for the new Silver Line Metro stations as part of their transportation policy class. (Photo by Alexis Glenn)

As the intricate world of government and international affairs has changed, George Mason University has worked to prepare students for this evolving landscape by creating a new school.

Classes have begun at the new School for Policy, Government, and International Affairs. The school offers students a varied choice of majors, degrees and professional opportunities that will prepare global and domestic government and policy leaders.

The unit is the result of the merger this summer of George Mason’s School of Public Policy and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Public and International Affairs. It is the largest school of policy and government in the country, providing educational and professional opportunities at two campuses near the policy center of the nation, Washington, D.C.

The merger, says Mason president Angel Cabrera, “brings immediate impact to executive and professional education in the region, in a new school that draws on the considerable strengths of the existing units. The school will train new generations of policy-makers and public-sector leaders to successfully tackle the most complex problems facing the country and the world. And it will develop private-sector leaders who can bridge traditional sectors and help create public goods.”

The blending of the talent of the combined faculties, says acting dean Mark Rozell, “provides graduates and undergraduates with unprecedented opportunities, from a larger variety of faculty and more course offerings to access to internships and networking with policy professionals. The faculty members, many of whom were heads of agencies, ambassadors and high-level policy makers, are extremely dedicated to helping students prepare for their careers, not only in the classroom, but beyond. Mason has always offered that return on investment, but it is on a bigger scale now.”

Research is one of the key pillars of Mason’s Strategic Plan as an innovative, entrepreneurial and accessible university for the world. The new school will provide faculty and students with “plentiful opportunities to do important work,” says acting associate dean David Hart. “The diversity of the faculty also brings diversity of approaches and methods—quantitative or qualitative? Historical or contemporary?—we have many points of view. The combined faculty makes it easier to put together research teams and for students to find a cohesive curriculum to suit their interests.”

The new policy and government school has 700 undergraduates, 1,200 master’s candidates and 200 PhD students. Some 80 full-time faculty members teach in 14 degree programs on Mason’s Fairfax and Arlington Campuses.

The school also inherits a combined alumni base of 13,000 graduates, including a substantial number of policy professionals. “This provides opportunities for making connections, networking and internships in the Washington, D.C., community” in the fields of policy, government and international affairs, says Rozell.

Faculty specializations include terrorism and transnational crime, emerging markets, regional analysis, entrepreneurship, biodefense policy and international security, among many others. The new school’s 17 research centers translate research into action and help devise solutions that benefit the public, nonprofit and private sectors as they work together to address common challenges.

The new institution, says Cabrera, is “a marquee policy and government school that represents the wave of education in the future.”

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About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.