Alumni from around the world returned to USC this month to join current students and faculty in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM) program, part of the USC Price School of Public Policy.
IPPAM is a distinctive executive master’s degree program designed specifically for international professionals working in the social sectors and for U.S. students working in international settings.
“It’s truly a unique program in the country,” said USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott. “There are very few, if any, exactly like it, and it’s one that I’m very proud of as a signature program of our school. IPPAM alumni each day make our world better.”
Following a day-long career development workshop featuring IPPAM alumni, current students and faculty on April 3, the anniversary celebration continued with a panel discussion and reception on April 4.
During the reception, Joyce Mann, director of international education at IPPAM, gave a brief history of the program. It began as the brainchild of USC Price Professor Glenn Melnick, who was convinced that USC had a critical role to play in building professional capacity worldwide, particularly as the rising economies of Asia and elsewhere created demands for better social services and the need for more skilled planners.
IPPAM has grown into a program that attracts a cross-cultural mix of professionals drawn from government, business and nonprofit sectors working in diverse sectors, such as community and economic development of marginalized communities, transportation, environmental protection, coastal preservation, city management, health care and services for the elderly, broadcast and print journalism, social advocacy and many others.
There have been more than 550 graduates since the program began in 1998. Four of the alumni — Yanning Li ’11, Jenny Lau ’06, Daniel Chien ’06 and Julia Pan ’04 — made a commitment to give annual $3,000 donations to establish the IPPAM alumni fellowship.
“IPPAM equipped me with the necessary knowledge and ability to recognize and solve problems and face challenges in the real world,” said Edward Lin ’09, who chaired the preparation committee for the anniversary event. “After this celebration, everyone will be going back to their own countries to pursue their life goals and careers. We may stay in different places, speak different languages, live in different cultures and deal with different problems, but I know we will all be IPPAM alumni forever.”
In addition, Lanhee Chen, who served as Mitt Romney’s chief policy adviser during the Republican presidential nominee’s 2012 campaign, gave the keynote address at the reception. Chen, who was born in the United States and whose parents emigrated from Taiwan, dispelled the misconception that the U.S. political system is fractured.
Chen argued that the U.S. system of democracy was designed to have tension and dueling ideas. He also told IPPAM students and alumni who will be returning to their countries — and who have dealings with the United States through their work — to remember that American society really isn’t divided.
“Americans do have disagreements, but underlying all of these disagreements is a set of values,” he said. “Everyone in America likes freedom, whether [it is] freedom of speech, religion or the right to bear arms. All of these freedoms create conflicts with one another. It’s inherent in our system. Our founders … realized that freedom would engender the kind of discussion and debate that would make a robust society.”
One of the highlights of the celebration was the panel discussion on “Energizing Civic Engagement in Civil Society on a Basis of Shared Global Experiences” on April 4.
The panel featured Yann Duzert, a visiting IPPAM scholar who spoke about his experience trying to generate civil engagement in Brazil; Suprayoga Hadi, a USC Price doctoral alumnus and deputy minister for the Indonesia Ministry for Development of Disadvantaged Regions, who focused on empowering community and local institutions in participatory planning; Yoshihiro Suzuki, executive director of the Japanese Association of The Experiment in International Living, who talked about the challenges facing the next generation following the Fukushima nuclear disaster; Ming-Yen Wu, secretary general of the Taiwan Nongovernmental Hospitals and Clinics Association, who touched on the medical coverage in Taiwan; and Jun Xing MPPM ’99 of China, a medical officer for the World Health Organization (WHO) and an alumnus of the inaugural IPPAM class, who concentrated on the International Health Regulations (IHR).
The revised IHR was enacted in 2007, requiring any occurrence of smallpox, polio, SARS and new strains of the flu to be reported to the WHO throughout its 195 member states. There are also instructions on how to handle incidents of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear nature.
By 2012, all countries were supposed to have the minimum capacities to detect, respond to and report any public health emergencies of international concern. Forty countries have indicated they can fulfill the requirements, but more than 100 asked for and were granted an extension to 2014.
The anniversary celebration marked the first time back in Los Angeles for Xing since graduating from USC’s IPPAM program.
“Why I was so eager to come back is because during that one year I felt like I was in a family,” Xing said. “That is why after so many years I have a fresh memory of all the activities I had here. They are lifetime memories. I’ve studied elsewhere as well but nothing can compare to here.”
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