Thursday, June 30, 2011

SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from Our Visit to Georgetown University

A slideshow of photos from our trip today to Georgetown University for a campus tour, lunch in historic Georgetown, and then a conversation with Georgetown Professor Paul Almeida. (Double-click on any photo to go to the SPS online photo album with downloadable photos.)

SPS 2011: On the Campus of Georgetown University

We have enjoyed a great campus tour, had lunch in the neighborhood, and are now at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business having a conversation with Professor Paul Almeida about globalization and strategy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SPS 2011: Slideshow from Birthday Celebration

Enjoy the slideshow of photos from tonight's birthday celebration at SPS -- Happy Birthday, Lachlan!

SPS 2011: Celebrating a Birthday

We had our first student birthday of the 2011 St. Albans School of Public Service program -- Lachlan turned 17! We celebrated with some signature DC cupcakes -- they were definitely a hit with all!

SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from Mock Supreme Court Argument

Enjoy the slideshow of photos from today's mock Supreme Court argument. Double-click on any photo to go to the SPS online photo album.

SPS 2011: The "SPS Supreme Court" Decides!

After spirited arguments from the "lawyers" for both sides, the two "SPS Supreme Courts" have issued their rulings in the mock Supreme Court argument of the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association case. Both Courts have ruled that the California statute banning the rental or sale of "ultra-violent" video games to minors violates the First Amendment and must be struck down. The Court convening in the Trophy Room (see photo above of the Trophy Room SPS Supreme Court) was unanimous in its ruling. The Court convening in the Kellogg Room (see photo below of the Kellogg Room Supreme Court) split 6-3 as the dissenters argued that the statute was a reasonable exercise of California's power and should have been upheld. See the post above for a slideshow of photos from the day's activities!

SPS 2011: The "SPS Supreme Court" is In Session!

The SPS Supreme Court is once again in session! This year the SPS 2011 students are arguing the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which presents the issue of whether a California statute banning the sale or rental of "ultra-violent" video games to minors violates the First Amendment. The SPS "lawyers" representing both California and the video game sellers are both making good cases--it remains to be seen if the "SPS Supreme Court" will make the same ruling as the U.S. Supreme Court (which struck down the California law on First Amendment grounds). Stay tuned as we await a judicial decision! (Above photo: Charlie A., one of the lawyers for the State of California, argues for the SPS Supreme Court to uphold the law.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SPS 2011: Taking Advantage of that Washington, D.C. Location!

On Day Three of SPS, the SPS 2011 class fanned out to four different locations in Washington, D.C. for four quintessential D.C. experiences:

  • At 8:00 am, a dozen students, accompanied by SPS faculty members Mr. Eagles and Ms. Basta, were off to Capitol Hill to attend a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the U.S. involvement in Libya in the context of the War Powers Act. (We weren't the only ones at the hearing--the The New York Times was there too. Click here for a link to the Times article about hearing.) The SPS group has checked in -- after lunch on the Hill, they are going back to hear the Committee's mark-up session.

  • Also at 8:00 am, a group headed off to an event hosted by one of D.C.'s premier "think tanks," the Brookings Institution: "PhDs, Policies and Patents: Innovation and America's future." (Click here for a link to the Brookings Institutions description of the event.) Led by James, our Program Assistant who is a Princeton engineering major, and Shawn, our intern from Vanderbilt U., they are on their way back to St. Albans now for lunch.

  • Our third departure of the day, at 8:30 am, sent approximately 8 SPS 2011 students to the Woodrow Wilson Center to attend a panel discussion entitled: "An Israeli-Palestinian Agreement? What's possible and What Isn't." (Click here for a link to the Wilson Center's description of the event.) As the above photo shows, our group followed the discussion intently!

  • The last departure of the morning, at 8:45 am, sent some of the class to another Brookings Institution event: "How Social Networking Can Reinvigorate American Democracy and Civic Participation." (Click here for a link to the Brookings Institution's description of the event.) Proving that not ALL networking has to be electronic, our SPS trip leader, Helen, found out she knew one of the organizers who then spoke privately to our SPS group.

After a busy morning, there's more to come: this afternoon we will split into case study groups for "The Case of the Jailhouse Lawyer," a case study that uses the famous Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court case as a vehicle for exploring the mechanisms of the American justice system. (This will set up SPS 2011 nicely for tomorrow's big event: a mock Supreme Court argument of a case from the U.S. Supreme Court's current term.) And just to make sure everyone is REALLY tired and goes to sleep early in the dorm, after dinner the group will go on a twilight tour of the Monuments on the National Mall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Slideshow of Photos from the First Case Study

After a day outside spent in team-building exercises on the ropes course, it was into the classroom for the first case study of the 2011 program. (Click on any photo above to go the online photo album.)

SPS 2011 is on the Case!

After a day of exercising muscles out on the ropes course, the SPS 2011 class got its first chance to exercise those intellectual muscles (all formidable, of course!) in our first case study of the 2011 SPS session.

The "case method" of teaching is familiar to graduate students in fields such as law, business, and public policy. A "teaching case" is written in narrative-style, and describes a specific situation or conflict (perhaps a complicated policy decision for a government official) with the goal of, as Harvard's Kennedy School of Government states, "put[ting] students in the shoes of real-life decision-makers in order to prepare them for their own lives of decision-making." Instructors act as facilitators of discussions with an eye toward helping the students identify the problem, analyze the causes, and formulate solutions.

Our first case of the session is a Harvard Kennedy School of Government case, "Ethical Problems in Public Careers: Lying." The case presents the reader with a series of vignettes, or "mini-cases," some fictional and others drawn from real-life situations, that all focus in on one particular issue: whether it is ever ethical or "right" for a government official to be dishonest in the quest of a greater good. Some of the scenarios? A reporter lies to his confidential source to persuade the source that the reporter is already aware of secret information and just needs confirmation; a mayoral candidate does not tell the press, when asked, that he plans to make cut-backs on popular city programs if elected; a Speaker of the House misleads his colleagues to break a deadlock and get a crucial appropriations bill through Congress. The vignettes are designed to present students with dilemmas that require nuanced thought and discussion, and highlight some of the common excuses or rationalizations for a lack of candor in public life: "that's how the game is played"; "I'm just doing my job"; and "it's for a good cause." (The word is that all three of the sections had lively and animated discussions -- see the photo slideshow in the post above for evidence!)

SPS 2011 . . .On the Ropes!

The 2011 Class of the St. Albans School of Public Service spent the day doing team-building exercises (including a zip-line) at the Madeira School in Virginia. Our group leaders, from the company Innerquest, did a great job at helping our group get better acquainted and have a great time. Enjoy the photo slideshow below! (Double-click on any photo to go to our online Google Picasa photo album, from which you can download photos.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slideshow of Photos from SPS Opening Cookout and Ice Cream Social

After an all-American cookout in Gregory Court, it was up to the rooftop to the Frist Terrace for an ice cream social to end the SPS day.

This is the View from My Ice Cream Parlour . . .

Sort of. After a cookout in Gregory Court and an orientation session with the Residential Faculty, it was up to the Frist Terrace--the rooftop garden of St. Albans School--for an ice cream social and a great view of the sixth largest cathedral in the world, the Washington National Cathedral.

SPS Scavenger Hunt is Under Way!

The SPS Scavenger Hunt is officially under way! Four teams (see slideshow above) are scouring St. Albans School and the surrounding campus area for the answer to important St. Albans School trivia questions such as the names of St. Albans School's two Astronaut Alumni (Michael Collins and Rick Hauck); which St. Albans School class stained glass window panel depicts the Constitution (class of 1988); and which SPS faculty member is a current college lacrosse player (Helen). The teams have only 60 minutes so they are moving quickly and working efficiently!

St. Albans School of Public Service Has Officially Begun: The First Student Has Arrived!

After all the waiting and preparation, the 2011 St. Albans School of Public Service program has officially begun with the arrival of our first student: Coleman, from Boston, Massachusetts. (See bottom left photo as Coleman checks in.) Coleman has now won the historic honor of being known as Student Number One for SPS 2011. As you can see, our staff was eager for his arrival, as they histrionically demonstrate in the top left photo (on left, Residential Faculty member John Stephany, on the right, Residential Faculty member Helen Conaghan).

It's Arrival Day . . . Just Waiting for the First Student to Arrive!

The SPS faculty and staff are set up and ready to receive the great SPS class of 2011! The 2011 session will kick off when the first student arrives . . . should be any minute now . . . (Above photo, from left: Mrs. Larocque, Residential faculty; James, program assistant; Shawn, Vanderbilt U. VIEW Program intern; Helen, Residential faculty; and Emily, Residential faculty.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Welcome to the SPS Class of 2011 from an SPS Residential Advisor!

Helen is both an SPS alum and one of our residential advisors (RAs) living in the dorm. After experiencing SPS as a student, she's looking forward to meeting the class of 2011 and experiencing SPS from the faculty side of things!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Not A Red Carpet, But . . .

Two of our SPS staff members, Shawn (left window), an intern from Vanderbilt U, and James (right window), a Program Assistant from Princeton, hang out the welcome banner as we prepare for SPS 2011 to begin on Sunday, June 26. The good news? Neither James nor Shawn fell out of the window while hanging the welcome banner! The bad news? The banner was to be stored until this Sunday for the big day (SPS Arrival Day!), and our highly efficient facilities staff thought it was trash and threw it away while putting the finishing touches on cleaning the dorm rooms! (Oops. But the dorm rooms are clean!) But you're still welcome, SPS class of 2011 -- there just won't be a banner proclaiming it.