Batten seeks to add program
New Leadership and Public Policy program may be available to students starting next year
The Batten School announced yesterday a new undergraduate degree in Leadership and Public Policy, which, pending approval by the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia, will accept applicants this year to begin the program next year.
Students would be required to apply during their second year, and would begin course work in the major during the fall of their third year.
To graduate with the major, they have to complete 14 classes, including a one-credit writing lab and a capstone seminar in their third and fourth years, Eric Patashnik, associate dean of the Batten School, said in an email.
The Batten School currently offers a five-year plan to earn a master's degree in public policy.
The new undergraduate major will use different social sciences to try to understand public policy issues.
"We think that the Batten School is carrying forward Thomas Jefferson's vision ... [in that it] cultivates leaders of tomorrow," Patashnik said.
Prospective students must also complete the area and competency requirements within the College. Echols Scholars will be exempt from this requirement, Patashnik said. Students in the Batten School would be able to pursue up to one additional major and one minor in the College, and students not in the Batten School would still be able to benefit from the new course offerings.
"The classes will be open to non-Batten students as well" except for the capstone seminar, Patashnik said. "We are very eager to welcome all students into our classes."
The major was overwhelmingly approved by the Faculty Senate and the Board of Visitors, Patashnik said.
Gerald Warburg, assistant dean for external affairs at the Batten School, said the new major received a great deal of support from the College, including from College Dean Meredith Woo.
The major now only requires SCHEV approval, which Patashnik expects to receive.
Monica Osei, assistant director for academic affairs and planning for SCHEV, said the council will focus on whether there is a need for a new undergraduate major at the Batten School. She said the new major must fulfill a demand from both University students and employers.
Patashnik hopes the public policy degree will receive support not just from SCHEV, but from students on Grounds as well.
"This is a multi-disciplinary degree ... [and students will consider] important problems from multiple perspectives and angles," Patashnik said. "Understanding the process [of public policy] is very helpful for ... engaging citizens" in issues like international development, poverty, health care and climate change, he added.
The Batten degree is modeled after other successful public policy programs at Duke University, Princeton University and the University of Michigan, Patashnik said.
Patashnik said this program will offer a unique opportunity for students to study the leadership and psychology of public policy.
The program would mostly likely be kept to fewer than 50 students in its inaugural year, though the number would expand rapidly as the program matures, Warburg said.
"It's going to grow rather quickly," he said. "One of the things [current graduate] students love is the very low faculty to student ratio," but that will have to change because the school wants to attract more students in the long term.