Reflections on NeCoPA 2013

Earlier this month, several of our faculty and students attended the Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NeCoPA) at the University of Delaware. Each year, the conference aims to educate scholars and administrators “on current issues, research, and practice in public and nonprofit organizations.” Two of the students who attended shared their thoughts with the Leaders’ Lounge:

“From the student perspective,” said first-year student Emilia Allen, “attending the NECoPA conference allowed me to gain valuable exposure to the research and publication process: the importance of practical innovation, of personal commitment to academic integrity, and of the power in the ability to critically examine our world. In addition, it was an opportunity to see the work that we do in the classroom pragmatically applied in larger academic and professional contexts. The best part of the conference was when fellow MPA student Vincent Reitano presented the Transparency research that he co-authored with Dr. Arapis – it was fantastic!”

Faculty and Students at NeCoPA 2013“NECoPA illuminated the various epistemological traditions we encounter in Villanova’s MPA,” said Vincent Reitano. “Research spanning manifold areas from educational finance to Detroit’s bankruptcy policy indicated the breadth of issues Public Administrators encounter. Discerning between the most appropriate methodological modes of inquiry was of primary concern, as evidenced in panels which converged to the philosophy of science; questions relegated to the Waldo-Simon debates still exist, proving the vitality of our applied field of study. Hence much of the research presented by Dr. Arapis and myself was debated in panel sessions on methodological grounds.

“Whereas many of the attendees present sought rationalist modes of inquiry and mixed methods to allay fears of reductionism, we employed positivism to seek rigorous results. While this divide was left unresolved due to the dichotomy in quantitative and qualitative worldview, it was exciting to observe such discourse alongside a new student, Emilia Allen; her search for an epistemological outlook which best addresses her energetic zeal for social justice affirms the intellectual voyage we as Public Administrators face together. Let us each take solace in this mutual search for Truth as we progress through coursework and professional experiences.”

Learn more about NeCoPA at northeastpublicadmin.org.