USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Globalization Conference

SPPD Defines Global Reach in the 21st Century

By Cristy Lytal

Photo by Huang Shi-Jun
From left: Kevin Yeh, Ph.D. (Public Administration) alumnus; Hsiao-Yun Yu; Dean Jack Knott; Jamie Shaw, Doctor of Public Administration graduate

This fall, leaders from the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development headed to Asia to forge new relationships and advance the school’s longstanding commitment to global outreach.

The trip was part of USC’s biannual global conference in Asia, which was held this year in Taipei, Taiwan.

“It’s important to develop, strengthen and maintain SPPD’s ties in Asia, as well as build relationships with other policy and planning schools for faculty and student exchanges, collaborative research projects, and potential executive education opportunities,” said Jack H. Knott, C. Irwin and Ione L. Piper dean and professor of SPPD.

Photo by Huang Shi-Jun
From left: Tyler Goodwin, President and CEO, Urban Land Capital, Hong Kong (MRED alumnus); SPPD Professor Richard Green; Hsi-Wei Chou, Governor of Taipei County (MPA alumnus); Dean Knott

In Taipei, Knott hosted a panel on the impact of the economic downturn on cities and attended an alumni dinner and showcase, which was attended by 65 SPPD alumni.

Knott also met with government ministries in Taipei and in Seoul, South Korea.

“They’re very interested in sending their diplomats to SPPD to learn about international public affairs,” said Carol Rush, SPPD’s associate dean for student affairs. “Our emphasis on transportation, the environment, and collaborative governance are areas in which Asian countries want to develop expertise. They’re very impressed that USC has more international students than any other university in the United States, and that 38 countries are represented in SPPD’s student body.”

In addition, Knott forged connections with deans of Asian policy schools in Taipei, Shanghai and Foshan, China, to help build research and educational ties.

Dean Knott receives a copy of his book, Reforming Bureaucracy: The Politics of Institutional Choice, translated into Chinese. On the right, Jen-Hui Hsu, Dean of the School of Management at Shih Hsin University and SPPD alumnus.

The dean of the school of management at Shih Hsin University, Jen-Hui Hsu, is an SPPD alumnus, who presented Knott with a copy of his own book, Reforming Bureaucracy: The Politics of Institutional Choice, translated into Chinese.

“I’m pleased that my book on government reform is being used by students in public management and policy courses in Asia,” said Knott, who hopes to collaborate with Shih Hsin University and Fudan University in Shanghai for a future conference or project.

SPPD also cooperated with the World Bank to create a forum on “Urban River Transformation,” hosted by the Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development (PRCUD) and Foshan Municipality in China’s Guangdong province. The forum built on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Knott and World Bank officials earlier this year.

Dean Knott, left, and World Bank official Victor Vergara (pointing) visit the Foshan River in South China as part of a recent forum on urban river transformation. The forum was featured in the Foshan daily newspaper.

The event – organized by Professor Eric J. Heikkila, SPPD director of international initiatives – was the first large-scale international policy-orientated conference ever to be held in Foshan, a municipality of 5.8 million people in the Pearl River Delta.

In addition to the United States and China, participants at this year’s PRCUD forum hailed from Japan, Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. Approximately 600 people attended, and the Foshan press covered the event extensively.

Knott was one of five people invited to make formal presentations at the opening ceremony.

Fifteen international experts – including Knott and SPPD faculty members Heikkila, Richard Little and Allan Kotin – studied briefing materials, went on a local field trip and engaged in five roundtable discussions. With the aid of simultaneous translation, they explored how a city can modify its relationship to its principal waterway.

The forum provided the host city of Foshan with insightful and practical advice on the issues facing its polluted urban river. Under Heikkila’s guidance, SPPD Ph.D. candidate Henry Yee will create a report summarizing this advice in the coming weeks. In advance of the forum, SPPD graduate students had also presented Foshan with a preliminary report.

“The PRCUD forum provides a showcase for the bountiful expertise here at SPPD and USC,” said Heikkila, who organized the first annual PRCUD event 20 years ago in Los Angeles. “We work hard to provide good learning opportunities for our students, as they gain exposure to real expertise being deployed in overseas settings. Of course, the learning works both ways, and the collegial network that has developed over this time has become a circle of deep and enduring friendships.”

SPPD began its international outreach in the 1940s, long before globalization became a requirement in higher education. And according to Heikkila, the university’s ties to Asia will become increasingly important in coming years.

“It is abundantly clear that this part of the world is central to our own futures in so many ways,” he said. “It remains the case that U.S. institutions of higher learning are strong global leaders, and I can truly say that USC outshines them all in this regard.”