Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
MPA
Carrie Nordlund

"It's crucial for students to get hands-on policy experience, which our program’s consultancies provide. During these critical networking opportunities, students interact with policy professionals and apply what they've learned in the classroom to practical situations."

Five Questions with Carrie Nordlund, Associate Director

With a PhD in political science from Brown and stellar experience at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Carrie Nordlund '01 AM '06 PhD, is excited to return to College Hill as the new associate director of Brown’s Public Policy Program. As the senior administrator of the one-year Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program at the Watson Institute, Carrie is committed to preparing students with the analytical tools, management skills, international study, and real-world experience needed to succeed. Through expert faculty, small class sizes, “Policy in Action” consultancies, and a Global Policy Experience, the MPA program is intent on offering a fast track option for students who want to gain the skills to change the world.

What makes the Master of Public Affairs at Brown University distinct?

One important distinction is that the Brown MPA program is a one-year program. There are only a very small number of peer schools both in the US and UK that offer this accelerated program to students. 

Further, our program places a strong emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach. This is very much the Brown ethos where students can take advantage of courses and faculty across the University that intersects with their passion. For example, students have the opportunity to create their own specialization in the areas of data-driven SMART policy, cybersecurity, international relations, social justice, social entrepreneurship/nonprofits, health policy and environmental policy, to name a few. We offer a great blend of applied and theoretical foundations. 

We also take pride in being a small, tight knit program. Students get to know their professors, and we all go out of our way to get to know each student. We offer a personalized and collaborative experience.

What's the importance of the Global Policy Experience?

We offer a unique Global Policy Experience, (GPE) during which students travel to an international site for 10 days to see public policy up close. With access to stakeholders, elected officials, and policy makers, the GPE compliments the students’ studies and provides much greater insight to a specific city, country or region. In its inaugural year, the program sent students to India, Brazil, and Sweden.

Why are the consultancies such an asset to students? 

It's crucial for students to get hands-on policy experience, which our program’s consultancies provide. During these critical networking opportunities, students interact with policy professionals and apply what they've learned in the classroom to practical situations.

The program is built on a continuous cycle of theory and application. Just as students learn about international policy and then partake in the Global Policy Experience, this theory is applied to the consultancies. Students learn the tools of policy analysis and specialization and apply them to real-world problems. 

Can you share some examples of where the inaugural year students have been placed?

The students have had top-notch consultancy experiences this year, including: Department of Education, Human Rights Watch - W. Africa Division, RI Emergency Management Agency, Detroit Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Providence Economic Development Food Supply Chain, Mission Ready Veterans, and the Rockefeller Foundations.  

We are excited to share some of our students’ experiences in their consultancies during the next few weeks, so more to come on that!

What are you most looking forward to in your new position at the Watson Institute?

Working with students. I am looking forward to getting to know students. It’s the very best part of my day – talking and getting to know students.