The mission of the Public Policy Center is to enhance the quality of community life throughout Hawai'i, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region by educating professionals for careers in public life, conducting non-partisan policy research and promoting civic engagement on issues of local, national, and international significance.
The Center seeks to accomplish the following goals:
The Center will be recognized for enhancing the quality of public life and the well-being of communities across Hawai'i, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region. It will be an exemplary organization based on collegiality, a strong sense of unity and trust, a clearly defined mission, and excellence in public policy education, research, and professional practice. Its students and faculty will be known for their expertise in public policy, leadership in public affairs, and responsible involvement in the community, particularly in engaging the community in civic issues. The Center will be known for its non-partisan and rigorous research on issues of public interest. And it will work in partnership with institutions, agencies and organizations beyond the university.
To ensure that the Center achieves its vision and mission in a quality environment, the following principles and values govern the Center and its partnerships:
1. Teaching mission and vision: Teaching is one of the most important ways to engage students in the present body of knowledge, to enhance their spirit of inquiry, and to encourage their continual pursuit of understanding. We want our students to keep an open mind, embrace the joy of discovery, and continuously seek the synthesis of new information. We will foster supportive classroom environments in which instructors facilitate learning, and students are active participants in the learning process. We want our students to become life-long learners, and critical and creative thinkers with an appreciation of ethics and values.
Students will be well-grounded in their individual disciplines and receive a multidisciplinary curriculum in the Center, emphasizing public policy theory, methods, knowledge, and practice. For example, our students will acquire a set of methodological and quantitative skills necessary for conducting applied analytical research, and develop a set of professional capabilities necessary to lead public and private agencies dedicated to enhancing the public good.
2. Certificate in Public Policy: The Center designed a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy (16 academic credits). The curriculum consists of one required course in policy analysis, one methods course, 2 courses in a substantive field of the student's choice, a 2-credit internship and a 2-credit final integration seminar.
The curriculum includes public policy theory, methods and practice, with courses covering a variety of policy areas. Elective and practicum courses allow students to pursue an area of specialization in public policy. Policy electives span the various schools and disciplines in the university. The practicum will give students hands-on, practical training, with both a project and research focus, providing an opportunity to apply academic work to applied issues.
3. Future Programs: As the Center matures, other curricula might be developed: (1) Undergraduate certificate in Public Policy; (2) Undergraduate minor in Public Policy; (3) Undergraduate major in Public Policy; (4) Masters degree in Public Policy; (5) Ph.D. in Public Policy; (6) Accelerated courses/programs/curricula/workshops for practicing professionals; (7) Web-based courses/curricula; and (8) Colloquium series.
1. Research mission and vision: The Center conducts non-partisan research on issues of public interest to Hawai‘i, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region. There is great diversity in the research subjects and methods; what is common to all these endeavors is a commitment to academic rigor and critical analysis. This means that while we are open to new ideas, we are equally relentless in our scrutiny of all ideas -- even long-held beliefs. Our research strives to be objective and neutral and free from personal ideology, self-interest, politics, and resource availability. Our basic aim is to understand policy issues so that we provide informed options for a better future for our communities.
2. Research Programs: The Center welcomes all research related to public policy issues. We currently have several areas of expertise – our signature projects -- that require multidisciplinary collaboration and build upon our faculty strengths. These signature projects are selected through a competitive process that assesses the significance of the contribution to the quality of life in Hawai‘i, the United States, or the Asia-Pacific region.
The Center will consider housing or undertaking contract research that is in keeping with the mission of the Center. In order to meet the demands for this type of research, it is important to build capacity among our faculty and beyond, especially in the areas of needs assessment and evaluation. The Center will support policy research in a variety of ways, including administrative and fiscal support, grant application processing and submittals, funding in certain policy areas, publishing working papers, networking with stakeholder groups, and providing research and training information to faculty associates. In all cases, active student participation in research projects is strongly encouraged.
The Center will house databases, information systems, maps, registries, surveys, digital files, and statistical references. These data sets will be well-documented, carefully maintained, and accessible for policy research, classroom use, and to inform policy and management decisions.
1. Community mission and vision: The Center is committed to working in close partnership with the larger community to address current policy issues. We value a mutually beneficial relationship between the people of Hawai‘i and the Public Policy Center because the welfare of Hawai‘i’s people and the work of the Center are inextricably linked -- each is dependent upon the vitality and vision of the other. We will continuously explore and enhance different and continuing relationships between the community and the Center. The public will recognize the assets and potential of the Center. In turn, the needs and concerns of the community will be understood and appreciated by the Center.
2. Community Programs: The Center will use its resources to address interests that are important to the community and to bring better understanding to pressing social issues. The Center sponsors the Hawai'i Public Policy Forum Series based on a model established by the National Issues Forum (NIF). The objective is “to help citizens learn how to take responsibility for their community, come together as a public, talk through the issues of concern to them, and act together to address the issue at hand.”
Faculty will disseminate public policy information and address community issues beyond the classroom through the use of newspapers, television, legislative hearings, and public lectures. The Center, in partnership with community entities, will facilitate public deliberation with the use of sound research to illuminate policy problems, alternatives, and priorities.
The Center sponsors a Legislator-In-Residence program to foster ties with decision-makers and to foster the development of a knowledge base for sound public policy decision-making.
Strong partnerships with community agencies, such as the Hawai'i Institute for Public Affairs (HIPA), have been established to disseminate research findings and to impact policy decisions.
The Center is a separate academic unit within the College that brings together departments, programs, and faculty committed to public policy research, teaching, and practice.
The Center staff is comprised of a .50% FTE Director/Chair; a 1.0 FTE Associate Director, one .50 FTE faculty member; faculty associates who are engaged in policy projects; and one .50 FTE support staff. With the recommendation of the Center’s faculty, the Director/Chair will be appointed by and report directly to the Dean. The Director/Chair will provide leadership (i.e., establish academic vision and values, institute a collegial governance system, etc.) and oversee a range of administrative activities (budget, personnel, curriculum, advising, and program development) with appropriate staff assistance. The Director/Chair will also serve as a liaison to the University Administration via the Dean and to other units on campus and to the broader community.
There are two types of faculty working at the Center: (1) core faculty of the Center who are secondarily in an academic discipline; and (2) faculty affiliates who have a faculty position in an academic discipline. The Center’s core faculty will be responsible for the curriculum (core, elective, and practicum), signature research projects, and community programs. The faculty associates (from both within and outside the College) will contribute to the curriculum, be involved in the signature research projects, and participate in the community programs.
The Center faculty can be hired directly into the Center with joint appointments in disciplinary departments. The Center will seek other faculty to enrich the program from the community and other educational institutions. These will include visiting faculty, affiliate graduate faculty, and adjunct faculty.
The administrative and support staff consists of a half time administrative officer and student help. The support staff will provide responsive and prompt administrative support to further the Center’s teaching, research, grants and contracts and practice.
Funding for basic unit operations of the Center comes from the College allocation. The Matsunaga Institute for Peace's outreach classes (summer and extension) raise money to support the Center and their programs. Other sources of support, primarily through grants and contracts, have been successfully obtained. Monies also come from research and training grants and contracts; university, state and federal allocations; and private endowment sources. The Center will keep start-up costs at a minimum by using existing resources and courses whenever possible.
The College of Social Sciences adopted a plan to formalize the Center and launch its programs in 2003. The Center and the graduate certificate were approved by the Board of Regents in 2006 along with a re-organization that placed the Matsunaga Institute for Peace within the Policy Center.