The Future of Education

After almost 8 months here in Maxwell School, I now have a clear idea of it works; what the program expect from students, and how far we can be shot away into greatness. As you know, it’s the first public administration school in the country, and the number one for 21 consecutive years.

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After studying Communications in Peru and International studies in Barcelona,  I can say that, even while quality is hard to measure, this program is clearly more demanding and asks for more participation. Stating that Barcelona was more relaxed than Peru, while not as academically rigorous, it gave me the freedom to explore deeper some particular topics.

So, during my time here I have been thinking, not only about teaching styles, but about how education can help you to achieve all your working goals. We can think about how people like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg dropped out school and achieved so much, while every serious research says that higher education is the safest investment you can make.

Going to the root of the problem, some assure that is not about schools, but how some schools build their teaching styles. For Sir Ken Robinson, education is still the model made up for industrial needs two centuries ago. Where you should only be good in what you are told: stigmatizing other capacities that challenge the status quo.

Let’s think about Finland, how a couple of decades ago was only one more northern European country in terms of education, and now is one of the best in the world, competing with Asian countries and spending less time studying. The secret of Finland is no longer a mystery; they make students enjoy school. Malcom Gladwell said about success: “Nothing happens without desire and passion. Otherwise, nothing else falls in place.”

Furthermore, Finland is taking things to a whole new level. They want to change their system, taking out school subjects and instead having challenges to achieve, where students will need to use cross-subject knowledge, and their personal abilities as team members. A Sen learning say: “The obstacle is the path.”

This is a very important issue, there’s an analogy attributed to Einstein that says: if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. That’s how Howard Gardner came up with the theory of Multiple-intelligences, which is now the most respected by the scientific community: Linguistic, Logical/mathematical, Visual/spatial, Musical, Bodily kinaesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist. Ask yourself which one’s you master.

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In my opinion, this approach should be considered also for higher education, as in the real-world teams are built up by people with different abilities that complement each other. This is also the case of institutions and companies that are seeking shareholders to improve their overall impact and be more effective with resources. Moreover, critical thinking and creativity should also be more emphasized, as they keep organizations ahead in the marketplace, and can really achieve the changes we want in the world.

For most respected researchers, the future of administration will be based on psychology and leadership: how to understand others, and how take out the best of them. While the future of public administration seems a little blurrier as there are challenging ideological positions. For me, will be about how to be adaptable in this everchanging environment, with all its new possibilities. Considering science, empowerment of the poor, and partnerships with other actors that could bring solutions to achieve a sustainable development for nations.

While Maxwell School is not the perfect place to study (and any place will be), I can say that is one of the best, and you will find your own reasons why. What I can tell you is that you will be defied from the very start, not only to challenge what others said before you, but to challenge yourself.

Here you could find: Some of the best Professors available always ready to guide you. Intrinsic institutional values based on reshaping the world for a better society. Interaction with some of the brightest people from all around the world, that carry those same values.

We should never underestimate the power of connections, as it’s what this world is made of, and nothing is more important than what motivates us to achieve our goals.

Think about Maxwell if you feel prepared to make a real impact in the world.

Isn’t that why we are all here?

Socrates said: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”


The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism & Interdisciplinary Learning at SU

Hello, future Maxwellians! My name is Frankie Garrison and I am a Master Public Administration and Master of Arts in International Relations graduate candidate at the Maxwell school. While I am focusing my graduate studies on issues of international and national security here at Maxwell, and I am also working as a Graduate Assistant in INSCT, SU’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (pronounced: In-skit). Graduate assistantships are a form of financial scholarship, that combines a tuition credit, employment benefits, and a salary for work. At Maxwell they are offered as either 10 hours-a-week or 20 hours-a-week assistantships. A large number of people in the cohort each year are offered them, and people work for different faculty and departments across Maxwell.


INSCT is a collaborative interdisciplinary center shared between the Maxwell School and Syracuse University’s College of Law. INSCT is focused on the study of national and international security. Because of INSCT’s interdisciplinary nature, it is home to students and faculty from Maxwell, and the law school. INSCT also offers Certificates of Advanced Studies in Security Studies, National Security and Counterterrorism Law, and Post-conflict Reconstruction.

Certificates of Advanced Study (CAS) are essentially the graduate version of a minor. It is a way to demonstrate significant course work in a particular field or topic. When looking at graduate programs, I highly recommend exploring what different interdisciplinary centers universities have and if there are different opportunities for you to complete one of these certificates as a part of your main degree.



INSCT is one of the main reasons I chose to come to Maxwell, and interdisciplinary studies is an area that I think Syracuse University particularly excels in. When I started at Maxwell, I made a point of enrolling in INSCT’s advanced certificate in Security Studies, and because of my work it has become my work and study spot on campus. In INSCT, I work alongside several other graduate and research assistants, as well as other students from Maxwell and the law school. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to move beyond Maxwell and meet law students interested in issues of national and international security. As a policy person, the perspective of the law students on many different national and international security issues has been particularly interesting to me. In the Fall, as a part of my advanced certificate, I took a class titled “Central Challenges of National Security.” The class was half law students, and half Maxwell students. The mix of perspectives and expertise in the class created an incredibly interactive class environment where we were able to learn a great deal from one another.

I have found these kinds of interdisciplinary experiences to be incredibly valuable part of graduate school. When looking at graduate programs, I highly recommend that you look at what opportunities there are to take classes outside your program of admission and beyond your university’s walls. Here at Maxwell, many students take classes in the School of Business, the School of Education, the Law School, and within the many Maxwell departments, like Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology. Networking with students and faculty outside of your program can be incredibly valuable. At most universities as a graduate student, there are often many options when it comes to crafting a customized education, and I highly recommend taking advantage of this.

If you happen to be interested in issues of national and international security, and the Maxwell School, I highly recommend taking visiting INSCT’s website,, or coming to visit if you are ever on campus.

Our Journey to the top

Since leaders set the agenda, they ultimately influence the organization’s culture and, in turn, its long-term effectiveness. Unfortunately, be it at the local community or international levels in politics, religion, business or humanitarian work, great leadership is hard to come by. The influence which leaders have on the performance of their teams can provide a basis for a fundamental shift in the culture and policies which govern their institutions. The World Food Programme (WFP) management practices during the decade of change under Catherine Bertini is clearly a textbook case of how to successfully breathe a new lease of life in the management of an organization, which has existed for decades.

Prof. Bertini finishing her class at the United Nations in New York with 26 Maxwell graduate students from 15 countries, pictured here at the General Assembly

What a person wears influences how people perceive that individual which ultimately affects how the person will be treated. In determining her dress code during her time in office during the decade of change, Bertini always endeavored to dress in a manner which was appropriate to the culture of the environments she went to during the call of duty. Most managers take this lightly and wonder what contributes to them not being properly received when they reach a new area. In management, you need to look the part at all times.

Before adequately addressing the systematic challenges to the operations of an institution, a leader must firstly endeavor to fully understand the nature and extent of the problems at hand. When Bertini took over the operations at WFP, she commissioned an audit of the financial operations and management systems, which revealed glaring irregularities that needed to be addressed urgently. This provided a solid platform upon which to get funding to address the challenges as WFP could provide detailed information on the nature and extent of the problems at hand to the donors. Related to this was her putting a person in charge of strictly overseeing the implementation of the solutions to the identified problems. Management training at all levels was also critical to the successful implementation of the solutions. This helps every member of the team to properly play their part in the overall meeting of the set goals during a given period.

The 2017 UN orgs – Managing for Change Maxwell School Class poses for a picture at the Fisher Centre with outgoing World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousins and Prof. Bertini

Branding and communication is another area which was addressed and improved upon in a way which enhanced the visibility of WFP and the work which it was doing during the decade of change. Effective branding and communication work is at the heart of good public relations which can improve an organization’s capacity to attract funding, thereby serving more beneficiaries and advancing its mission. Another milestone during the decade of change was the creation of a mission statement. By that time, it became the second UN agency to have one. This was a master stroke. The mission statement sets the context within which the organization’s employees strive for excellence and work to achieve the set goals.

At the heart of this momentous period was the desire by Bertini to lead a united and cohesive team. According to her, power struggles have led to so many organizations flying way below their potential. Unlike other agencies, it is with this thinking in mind that in her new organizational structure, she only had room for one deputy. The decade of change of WFP does most certainly contain a lot of leadership nuggets worthy to be in a management textbook on the shelf of a manager who wants to provide real leadership which goes beyond ‘the business as usual approach.’ It is this this knowledge which Bertini shared with her class on the third day of the United Nations Orgs-Managing for Change Course at Syracuse University’s Fisher Centre right in the blissful heart of New York.

Maxwell School students might not have their path to the top paved with concrete bricks, but most certainly, like renowned Mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, their way to the top is made easier through being helped to see further by standing on the shoulders of academic giants who surround them in abundance in a wide array of fields.