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Maxwell School Joins Volcker Alliance to Bring Next Generation Leadership Corps to University

September 7, 2023

The program will provide training and experiential learning for future public servants across Syracuse’s schools and colleges.

Continuing its nearly 100-year legacy of inspiring and cultivating a new generation of public service minded professionals, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has partnered with the Volcker Alliance to offer a new program to undergraduate students campuswide.

NextGen Summer Summit 2023
The first cohort of Syracuse University Next Generation Leadership Corps students participated in a Summer Summit at Montclair State University in New Jersey over the summer. They included, from left, political science and citizenship and civic engagement major Nathan Torabi, policy studies major Sarhia Rahim, policy studies and psychology major Aryn Chartock and political science and advertising major Chelsie Auguste.

The Syracuse University Next Generation Leadership Corps, nicknamed SU NextGen, emphasizes civic engagement—central to Maxwell since its founding in 1924 as the country’s first school for public affairs. The program will provide undergraduates with problem-solving and collaboration skills as well as experiential learning opportunities. It will include a mix of academic coursework, networking and career exploration in government, nonprofit and private organizations.

Guiding the effort is a team of Maxwell faculty who lead its signature interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in policy studies; citizenship and civic engagement (CCE); and environment, sustainability and policy.

“The need for prepared leaders in the public sector has never been so urgent,” says Colleen Heflin, associate dean, chair and professor of public administration and international affairs. “Our student cohorts will be organized in response to topics of interest with the aim of engaging in conversations that respond to threats to democracy and complex historical and political moments, such as climate change, racial equity and housing.”

Heflin is supported in the effort by colleague Jane Read, associate professor of geography and the environment and director of the environment, sustainability and policy integrated learning major. Fellow organizers also include Kris Patel, professor of practice in policy studies and Donald P. and Margaret Curry Gregg Professor of Practice in Korean and East Asian Affairs; Peter Wilcoxen, professor of public administration and international affairs and director of undergraduate policy studies; and Junko Takeda, professor of history, Daicoff Faculty Scholar and interim chair of CCE.

The NextGen Service Corps, as the national program is known, was launched in 2020 by the Volcker Alliance, a philanthropic organization that was founded by the late Paul A. Volcker, a well-known voice on American economic policy who served as chairman of the Federal Reserve and was a longtime member of the Maxwell School Advisory Board. Volcker is honored at Maxwell with a faculty chair in behavioral economics—now held by Leonard Lopoo—and an associated lecture and symposium series, administered by Maxwell’s Center for Policy Research. 

“Our student cohorts will be organized in response to topics of interest with the aim of engaging in conversations that respond to threats to democracy and complex historical and political moments, such as climate change, racial equity and housing.”

Colleen Heflin

associate dean, chair and professor of public administration and international affairs

“As a member of our advisory board, Chairman Volcker was steadfast in his prioritization of public service and civic engagement as foundational to Maxwell students’ experience,” said Dean David M. Van Slyke. “As we prepare to celebrate the Maxwell School centennial in 2024, it seems especially fitting that we join the Volcker Alliance in bringing NextGen to the University. Its mission to prepare engaged citizens so closely aligns with our work. I’m also pleased that the program prioritizes the recruitment of student populations traditionally underrepresented in government.”

Syracuse is among 17 universities and colleges participating in the national program. Programming is customized by participating institutions. At Syracuse, participants will be required to take two courses, offered at Maxwell, as well as a credit-bearing internship. They will also participate in events to build their networks, engage with new ideas and consider how others approach pressing social issues and cultural conversations.

“These events will include a Voices of Public Service speaker series that will provide connections with notable public policy practitioners, service groups called mission teams, and professional development workshops,” said Heflin.

Nathan Torabi, a rising sophomore majoring in political science and CCE, is among the first cohort of Syracuse students. He attended the Next Generation Service Corps Summer Summit at Montclair State University in New Jersey in June. Summit programming included a field trip to the Volcker Alliance office in nearby New York City, where he spoke about mass incarceration with a woman who was previously imprisoned and who is now building a career in the field of software engineering. “This conversation inspired me never to accept inequalities in the law and to always fight for equality,” Torabi said.

Torabi and fellow students who complete SU NextGen will receive a digital badge that can be used on LinkedIn for professional networking and development.

By Jessica Youngman

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective


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