GADEA: A Wise Balance of Policy
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 02:10
Here at Georgetown, the aim of contemplation is to further our self-understanding and thereby further our understanding of our role in the world. We seek to grasp what it means to be part of the places we call home. Here, in our second home, we learn about contemplation in action, a process wherein our inner reflection causes an outward impact on the world. By looking within, we find the questions in our societies that need answering.
In many ways, the concept of contemplation in action relates back to the newly founded McCourt School of Public Policy. Funded by a $100 million gift from Frank McCourt Jr. (CAS ’75), the school aims to expand Georgetown’s presence in the changing landscape of public policy, especially through two arms: the Center for Global Politics and Policy and the Massive Data Institute. These organizations have the utmost potential to apply new scientific and statistical processes in shaping the future of public policy.
This strikes me as a powerful allusion to the Jesuit ideal of contemplation in action. Foreign policy frequently dominates discussion on the Hilltop, especially within the School of Foreign Service. Public policy, on the other hand, is all about the questions at home. It’s about poverty, healthcare, social security and the other pivotal issues concerning our domestic well-being.
The McCourt School of Public Policy offers Georgetown the chance to apply its brainpower and creativity to problems right here at home. The United States narrowly averted a possible debt default and boasts a Social Security system on track to run out of funding. These are just some of the pressing questions that the McCourt School can take a lead role in addressing. Though these concerns are focused within our borders, we are not ignoring the world by exploring the questions of our own country.
Rather, I believe that we can best help others by first helping ourselves. If we understand the underlying problems plaguing our own country, we can understand where we are as a nation, where we need to go and how we can get there. In doing this we can help show other countries how to confront their own problems as well. International relations are important, but domestic relations should be of equal concern. Collaborating about the debt ceiling, extinguishing crime waves in Chicago and fixing our public education system are possible if we invest time, willpower and contemplation.
Tools developed in public policy can then be applied to developing the policies of other struggling nations. Those who work to solve America’s crime problem can then help India with their city violence problems, while those figuring out a better system of American education can help nations in sub-Saharan Africa improve their educational systems.
In the future, as we return to a domestic focus through the McCourt School, we can apply what we learn about ourselves to how we interact with other nations. I envision a future in which the McCourt School of Public Policy and the SFS will complement each other in the best way possible. With one looking within and one looking outwards, these two institutions can build on each other’s work to their mutual benefit.
I predict that the McCourt School will form a new set of men and women for others here at Georgetown: ambitious, informed, moral citizens poised to make a positive impact on our country and on the world. By envisioning our own future as a country, these students — and the rest of us — can better envision that of the world.
James Gadea is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. The Elephant in the Room appears every other Friday.