Future Public Servants and their Blogs

This post originally appeared in my blog about Government 2.0 at the Kennedy School,We the Goverati

Maps + blogs + the Citizen + the Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG) + the Government 2.0 club + Kennedy School students across the globe for summer internships = new mapping and communications initiative from the Kennedy School.

Victoria Criado, Master of Public Policy 2010, spearheaded this initiative which shows the locations of student’s summer internships on a map and encourages them to blog about their experiences. This initiative (quoted from the internal site where the maps are hosted):

“is important not only to help foster a greater sense of community, but also to help students leverage and learn from their peers’ summer experiences…In addition, we believe that this initiative can be used as a stepping stone to get students engaged with technology in a way that can be continued to be used by other departments within HKS to track graduating classmates and maintain a more cohesive and vibrant Kennedy School community in the years to come.”

The application is simple: markers show student’s locations & field of work on a google map, which is supplemented with a page that lists student’s summer blogs. In future editions, we hope to integrate the features and make the application a bit more dynamic.

Google map showing locations of HKS 2009 summer interns around the globe

HKS 2009 summer interns

While this initiative is fairly simple and is pretty much an inward-facing communications & networking tool (the map is only accessible to the Kennedy School for now), I really like it for several reasons:

1. I love maps and will jump on any opportunity to make one

2. I never turn down an avenue through which to online-stalk interesting people

3. It encourages future public servants and government leaders to blog about their experiences and be open and transparent in their work

Reason #3 is the most important to me. Policy work is complex and multi-layered, and when government officials communicate openly (and authentically) it helps people understand the nuanced problems and decisions they face. It also invites people into the conversation, paving the way for a more collaborative and participatory environment. While we are still in an academic setting, I’d like to believe that helping students (especially those who are not primarily interested in government 2.0) experiment with these types of communications tools encourages this type of behavior as they begin (or in many cases continue) their careers in public service.

But okay, enough proselytizing. Here are a few of my favorite blogs from this summer:

A Summer in Kabul, Adibeli Nduka-Agwu, MPP 2010, working for a large international NGO in Kabul

Adventures in Afghanistan , Sabrina Roshan, MPP 2010, PAE research in Afghanistan

Cambridge to Karachi, Nadia Naviwala, MPP 2010 with an NGO building schools

Unstable Arc: From Cambridge to Conflict, joint blog by three students, one each in Syria/Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Lauren Murphy in Bangladesh, Lauren Murphy, MPP 2010 at BRAC

Student Pollster , Boris Jamet-Fournier MPP 2010 at Harris Interactive’s Public Affairs Department

Molly in Washington Molly Byrne, MPP 2010 at the Office of African Refugee Assistance in the U.S. Department of State

Victoria Criado and Anna York Online Investigative Reporting Mavens (with News21)

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Andrew Krzmarzick

Wow, Yasmin – this is a great post! You make a couple points that are worth exploring more: 1) How can MPA programs incorporate social media into their curricula so that it becomes “a way of life” for prospective public servants? Your example, though not initiated by the program itself, is excellent and I’d love to see if there are more…perhaps we can start a list of them here on the GovLoop wiki. 2) By sharing their internship experiences via blogs, Adibeli, Sabrina, Boris, et. al. in many ways promote public service and show that there are cool people pursuing a career in government.

Let’s talk – maybe there’s a way that we can combine efforts and do something via IAmPublicService.org – maybe we could create an eBook that highlights the best stories from the summer…I am trying to engage Governing magazine as a potential publisher for a state and local version, but this would be cool as well.

Yasmin Fodil

Thanks! My colleagues and I who are pushing government 2.0 stuff at the Kennedy School are planning for the next year, and the big goal is to get students who are policy experts in a particular area more engaged with social media, so that its not something that just the gov20 nerds do. I think your idea of an eBook is really interesting and could provide a good incentive for students to become more engaged and it would be great to see what other schools are up to. Let’s definitely talk!


Very cool stuff – I like the idea of the public policy students blogging their summer internships. Public policy schools hopefully will encourage Gov 2.0 and get students to encourage their use of collaborative technologies rather than get them to hold back.