2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

Karen Garrett's picture

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement: Cape Town Broadens Research and Minds

The process of writing a dissertation can be a solitary experience; spending countless hours writing from a desk does not typically lend itself to networking and collaborating across institutions. The American Society of Public Administration’s (ASPA) International Young Scholars Workshop challenges this image of a cloistered doctoral student through an intensive four day program targeting Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, and early service professors or research fellows.

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

Twenty-one young scholars and research fellows gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, last month for the 5th Workshop, sharing research and comparatively examining public administration and policy issues related to social equity and community engagement. The theme, “Advancing the Understanding of Global Disparities in Public Policy, Public Administration, NGOs, and the Communities They Serve,” provided these young public administrators with the opportunity to not only conduct valuable research surrounding equity in public policy, but to also share that research with senior scholars and local South African practitioners while experiencing some of Cape Town’s history relative to this theme.

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

“This was probably one of the best conferences I have attended,” observed Ph.D. student Andrea Marie Headley (Florida International University). “The structure and size of the conference and the mentorship opportunity provided allowed me to network and engage in professional development.”

Representing 12 countries, young scholars came from institutions including Indiana University at Bloomington, Rutgers University, Universiti Sains Malaysia, University of Cape Town, University of Colorado, University of Georgia, University of Nebraska Omaha, and University of Delaware. 

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

Generously supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek, Mich., through a $20,000 corporate gift—as well as partner organizations Community Chest (the South African equivalent to the United Way), the Conference of Minority Public Administrators, and Rutgers-Newark—these scholars learned from each other’s research while also hearing from external speakers.

“We strived to plan a Workshop that would provide both academic structure as well as excellent learning and networking opportunities,” commented Lindsey Evans (Virginia Commonwealth University), one of the Ph.D. students involved in planning the Workshop. “I think we accomplished our goal and then some. The research was fascinating, we engaged in wonderful cultural exchanges, and we all had plenty of time and room to network with each other and the senior scholars. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

The workshop’s location in the “Rainbow Nation” was especially fitting, given the social equity research focus and the diversity of the young scholars, as they shared research on such topics as:
•    Structural and institutional inequities
•    Race, marginalization, and privilege
•    Women in developing countries
•    Disparities in social capital
•    Higher education policy
•    Equity in emergency management
•    Policy challenges in developing countries

Modeled after the Ronald Coase Institute, participants presented their work twice, each time receiving feedback from senior scholars on potential areas of improvement. Participants then incorporated this feedback through an iterative process, culminating in final research presentations. 

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

The Workshop also included several sessions related to professional development, such as obtaining grants, fellowships, and post-docs; preparing for tenure-track positions; pursuing a career in federal employment or research institutes; and improving teaching effectiveness. 

Representatives from South Africa’s National School of Government, University of the Western Cape, and Community Chest attended the Workshop and provided contextual information regarding the status of social equity research in South Africa.
Scholars also enjoyed social opportunities through dinners, networking breaks, and off-site excursions. In fact, the closing day of the Workshop included a visit to Maboneng Community Arts Center in the Langa Township and a tour of Robben Island by a former political prisoner during Apartheid. (Want to check it out? Head to Twitter, #IYSW2016, to see some photos of the experience).

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

“It was a truly meaningful experience for me to visit Robben Island and see Nelson Mandela’s cell,” said Angela Kline (University of Delaware), ASPA’s Student Representative and the other Ph.D. student involved in planning the Workshop. “And it was the perfect ending for a Workshop looking at issues of social equity around the world.”

Time for celebration and recognition was also included, as awards were given out for the best presentations and papers from this year’s program. Winners were:

•    Best Presentation Award
Yeukai Mukorombindo
Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town
"Budget and Policy Planning in Devolved Kenya: A Case Study of Citizen Participation in Nairobi County"

•    Best Presentation Award, Honorable Mention
Michael Perkins, JD
Ph.D. Student, Public Policy and Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University
"The Black Male Collegiate: A Case Study Exploring Crime Alerts and Racial Battle Fatigue"

•    Best Presentation Award, Honorable Mention
Debra Monroe-Lax
Ph.D. Student, Public Policy and Administration, Jackson State University
"Economic Determinant Analysis of Student Academic Performance in Mississippi Public Schools"

•    Best Paper Award
Andrea Marie Headley
Ph.D. Student, Public Affairs, Florida International University
"Predicting Police Presence: An Application of Social Disorganization Theory"

•    Best Paper Award, Honorable Mention
Grichawat Lowatcharin
Ph.D. Student, Public Affairs, University of Missouri
"Police Strength in Centralized and Decentralized Police Systems: A Tale of Two Worlds"

•    Best Paper Award, Honorable Mention
Rashmi Chordiya
Ph.D. Student, University of Texas at Dallas
"Examining the Dispositional and Organizational Sources of Job Satisfaction"

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

“This program was amazing,” noted Yali Pang, Ph.D. Student at Virginia Commonwealth University, at the end of the Workshop. “It will definitely change my life.”

2016 International Young Scholars Workshop Studies Equity, Community Engagement

More about their Cape Town experience is on Twitter. Search for #IYSW2016 to find stellar research, Cape Town ambiance, coffee, rainbows, and much more.

Learn more: https://www.aspanet.org/ASPA/Students-New-Professionals/International-Young-Scholars/ASPA/Student-New-Professionals/International-Young-Scholars/International-Young-Scholars.aspx



Karen E. T. Garrett began working for the American Society for Public Administration, the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration, in October 2015, where she serves as the Chief of Communications and Marketing. Ms. Garrett is responsible for all of ASPA's communications and marketing activities and website administration, as well as serving as the managing editor of PA TIMES magazine and PA TIMES Online (www.patimes.org). Ms. Garrett graduated from American University with her BA in literature in 2001. You can reach her at kgarrett[at]aspanet.org




All photos courtesy and copyright IYSW2016