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Prospective first-year students present ideas on improving their own communities through public policies

April 15, 2009

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SU News Services

More than 80 of Syracuse University's prospective first-year students will present their ideas on public policies that can improve their community at the 64th annual Maxwell Citizenship Scholarship Conference, sponsored by the Public Affairs Program in the Maxwell School. The participants have applied and been accepted for admission in the Fall 2009 semester. The top 25 students in the competition will win a total of $224,000 in scholarships.

The event will take place Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Morning sessions will take place in Maxwell and Eggers halls. The participants will then move to Goldstein Auditorium in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center for a luncheon and awards ceremony.

All admitted students were offered the opportunity to submit a three-page public policy proposal to competition director William D. Coplin, professor of public affairs and director of the Public Affairs Program. After the papers were read, 95 finalists were designated to attend the conference.

The local public policy memos sought to improve society in a variety of ways. Many students called for municipal and school policies to save energy and improve the environment. Other topics included economic development, reducing traffic accidents, improving health practices, and helping students get more out of their high school education.

The policy memos, which are graded prior to the conference, must recommend a local government action that the students think should be considered. Based on the quality of their policy memos, students are invited to attend the conference as finalists in the competition.

The paper and conference theme is designed to stimulate interest in local communities and local public policies. "Our school and college curricula do not cover local governmental policies as much as federal and international policies," says Coplin. "The conference theme seeks to reward those students who are able to come up with ideas at the local level. Local government has the biggest impact on most people's lives and is where most people can have the biggest impact on government policies."

The policy memos are graded by Coplin using the standards employed in his course for first-year students, and a peer score is the other 50 percent, which is a measure of the degree to which their peers see them as leaders. The student with the highest score will be awarded an annual scholarship of $5,000. The second-highest scorer will receive a $4,000 annual scholarship, and the third-highest scorer will receive a $3,000 annual scholarship. The next 22 highest scorers will win $2,000 annual scholarships.

The Maxwell School of Syracuse University, founded in 1924, is the premier academic institution in the United States committed to scholarship, civic leadership, and education in public and international affairs. Maxwell is home to SU's social science departments and to numerous nationally recognized multidisciplinary graduate programs in public policy, international studies, social policy and conflict resolution. Maxwell's graduate program in public administration-the first of its kind-is ranked consistently the best in the nation.

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