As I’ve done for the last few years, I’d like to take a moment on this day before Thanksgiving to think about the spirit of the day and to reflect on our mission and purpose as a School of Public Policy.
As a School of Public Policy, we have a special duty to think about how we can create and restore good government and a sense of community in localities, states, and nations. The world faces critical questions about how we can do a better job creating true communities where government and people trust one another and work together to solve problems. We see the need for this on the international front where distrust and enmity between nations and between religious communities has led to protracted conflicts, terrorism, war, and lost opportunities and lives for many people. We see this in our national politics where political polarization continues to stymie needed changes and reforms. We see this in our cities where poor governance, failed public policies, and tragic uses of police power have decimated communities. At the same time, we live in a world where enormous numbers of people have been brought out of poverty, saved from the scourges of disease, and given unprecedented opportunities to demonstrate their true human potential. Much of this has been the result of enlightened public policies.
I am proud to be part of a School of Public Policy that is fundamentally concerned with these things. Our faculty, students, alumni, and staff are deeply involved with the great challenges that confront this nation and the world. We are involved through our teaching, our research, our jobs, and our daily lives. We try every day, imperfectly no doubt, to strike a balance between focusing on the day to day tragedies that confront us in the newspapers and taking a longer view by collecting data, doing analysis, and speaking out when we feel that we have something useful and concrete to add to the debates about public policy.
We hope and we pray that our efforts will bring more sense and sensibility to the world. So, as you go off for Thanksgiving, please think about these things.
For me, I think about how thankful I am to be at a public policy school with such dedicated students, staff, and faculty. I think about how lucky I am to be blessed with my positions as professor and dean. I also think, every day, about how we can do a better job at the Goldman School, and I welcome ongoing discussions about what we should be doing.
Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on these matters. It is a wonderful time of year with the autumn leaves falling, with the bracing turn to colder temperatures, and with the bonds of community and friendship that are strengthened through the gathering of kith and kin. It is a time when we can think about where we are and where we are going.
As we all do this, let’s truly reflect on our mission and on our responsibilities as public policy practitioners and let's think about how to get even better at what we do.
Happy Thanksgiving and my profound gratitude to all of you for your commitment to making the world better through public policy.
Henry E. Brady
Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy