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WVU public administration students compete in global policy simulation

Four West Virginia University public administration students brought their public policy implementation skills to the global stage in February. 

West Virginia University public administration students compete at national policy simulation contest.

The students participated in the fifth annual Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration’s Batten Student Simulation Competition, bringing together a record 585 graduate students from around the world to tackle policy issues associated with forced migration through computer-based policy simulation.

WVU students Lonnie Long, Mohammad Rahim, Jeffrey Whittaker and Perri Williams joined students from other Master of Public Administration programs to address a global public policy issue. 

“The simulation was an incredible learning experience, seeing how minor policy changes can have a significant impact on both national budgets and the number of individuals entering a country,” Whittaker said. 

Representing cabinet-level positions of a virtual country, the teams selected public policy approaches to balancing a national budget and addressing global migration.  

“By focusing on the policy choices and observing the impact of various policies, I was reminded of the human element of public policy,” Williams said. “The simulation taught me important lessons about how the policy trade-offs have a real impact on human lives.”

A partnership between the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, this year’s competition connected students from 140 universities and 27 different countries at 11 global host sites. The policy simulation, backed by extensive real-world data, places students in leadership roles within a time-sensitive, fast-paced environment where they must work together to solve complex policy issues. 

“Simulation-based learning is an incredibly valuable tool, offering some of the most exciting, intense and impactful learning on the planet for public affairs education,” said Laurel McFarland, executive director of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration. “In the classroom, our graduate students have been trained to be problem solvers, team players and analysts. These simulations enhance students’ abilities to tackle complex policy problems they may face in the real world. They'll be ready for the next influx of migrants, or for whatever crisis they might face in their public service career.”

The WVU Master of Public Administration program is accredited by Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, the global standard in public service education. WVU is ranked in the top 100 programs by the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools in Public Affairs. In fall 2019, the program will celebrate its 50th anniversary of graduating its first cohort in 1970.