Hopkins Program Focuses on CitizenshipLester Salamon remembers a time in the 1960s when society focused on rights: the right to an education, a place to live. By the 1980s, though, most Americans seem to have become focused on making a buck.
"The notion of citizenship in helping your fellow man had been de-emphasized during the '80s," said Salamon, director of the Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.
Now he believes the attitude pendulum may be swinging toward compassion, so Salamon is using that motion to expand the notion of professional citizenship and the responsibilities that come with that.
Professional citizens are those who are trained to hold jobs that involve efforts to solve public problems; that could include those in government, the non-profit sector, education and for-profit industry.
"It involves a personal commitment to be concerned about public problems," Salamon said. "It could involve volunteering to help disabled people, working in soups kitchen, charitable giving."
The master's program citizenship curriculum at IPS includes instruction on moral and ethical policy, practical training on how policy makers work within the system to accomplish changes and how they actually connect to citizens.
"I begin with the assumption that most of students who are enrolled are convinced of the significance of being a good citizen," said Political Science professor Matthew Crenson, who teaches "Citizenship and the Policy Professional." "What I try to do is to remind them--as frequently as I can--that being a good citizen is not enough. Even being a good public servant is not enough."
Crenson asks students to ask themselves about whether or not they treat people fairly and about whether they are living up to their obligations as citizens.
"I think that unless you have some sense of your obligation to a larger public, you haven't really experienced everything you need to experience to be a sort of full-formed human being," Crenson said. "It's an idea that goes back to the days of Plato and Aristotle: if you aren't engaged in public endeavor, you are something less than a human being."
IPS recently received a $1.5 million grant, which will be distributed over the next four years, from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to enhance the policy studies program, specifically in the areas of citizenship and the management of alternative tools of government action.
It is one of the largest grants to higher education--and one of a handful earmarked for public policy programs--made by Kellogg.
In addition to expanding the program at Hopkins, the funds will make it possible for IPS to develop books and other curriculum materials that would make it possible for other universities to initiate similar courses of study.
Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page