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Protecting and Promoting JPAE’s Legacy

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Bruce McDonald and William Hatcher
April 9, 2018

The Journal of Public Affairs Education (JPAE) is amid two important changes that will produce, we argue, positive outcomes for our field. First, Taylor and Francis is now the publisher of JPAE. With Taylor and Francis publishing JPAE, the journal will reach a larger audience and provide teaching and learning scholarship to more instructors in public affairs programs and beyond. Second, this past fall, we, along with our team of four associate editors, assumed the editorship of the journal. JPAE is the primary forum for the advancement of scholarship on teaching public servants, directing our academic programs and ensuring the field protects the values of efficiency, effectiveness and fairness. The outgoing editorial team of Dr. David A. Schultz of Hamline University and Dr. Marieka M. Klawitter of the University of Washington protected JPAE’s legacy, and we hope to build upon their work.

Our Visions for JPAE

As JPAE’s founding editor, H. George Frederickson created a reputable outlet for scholarly discussions on teaching and learning. Before JPAE, we certainly discussed issues of teaching and learning, but Frederickson’s vision for the journal was for it to be the central outlet for a scholarly discussion of how our field is teaching the next generation of public managers. As editors, we strive to protect this important legacy and build upon JPAE’s past work. Our vision to accomplish this goal is comprised of four key components.

First, we hope to build upon the journal’s legacy of critically considering teaching tools and methods. To extend this focus, JPAE will include a section dedicated to case studies faculty could use in the classroom. The journal has a case study editor that will help promote the section and review cases for publication. Publication decisions will be the product of a double-blind review process. The focus for the case studies will be on crafting cases along with teaching notes that help public affairs professors connect theory with practice.

Second, considering the pedagogical work of scholars in our field and other disciplines can strengthen JPAE’s focus on teaching and learning in public affairs. To accomplish this goal, we are expanding the role of the book review section. Each issue will contain at least two book reviews, and we hope the reviews will be on books in public affairs and general pedagogical.

Third, JPAE recognizes the importance of public scholarship. With the move to Taylor and Francis, the journal is expanding its readership. An active social media and public scholarship presence should help promote the journal to a broader audience. We have an editor dedicated to issues of public scholarship to put this vision in place.

Lastly, ASPA and our overall field represents big tents, to say the least. To encourage more inclusion in our JPAE, we have an editor who will help with community and international engagement. JPAE’s work needs to include perspectives from international programs, small public affairs programs and large comprehensive schools.

Research Topics for JPAE

 The underlying goal of this vision is to both continue and increase JPAE’s role in our field. To achieve this, we need excellent research submissions and case studies. To that end, we have assembled a list of paper topics addressing issues that we argue are important to the field. We encourage submissions to JPAE in these areas.

First, we would like authors to submit pieces focusing on the demands of being an MPA faculty member. Manuscripts may address the following questions:

  • How do program directors, chairs, and deans distribute workload in MPA programs?
  • What are the best practices for recruiting students into a field that has lost its attractiveness?
  • What motivates MPA faculty members to take up additional work without rewards in their programs?

Second, we encourage submissions on designing appropriate teaching methods and instructional modalities. Manuscripts may address the following questions:

  • What determines student success in online MPA programs?
  • What influences evaluation scores in PA classes?
  • What are the core principles of instructional design in online PA courses
  • How do we meet the diverse needs of PA learners, including adult/nontraditional and traditional undergraduate students?
  • What are the critical issues in online/distance education of MPA programs?
  • How should we be thinking about executive education?

Third, we are interested in knowing more about the design of curricula in our MPA programs. Questions on this topic may include the following:

  • What would meta-analyses show us about MPA core courses?
  • What would meta-analyses show us about MPA methods courses?
  • What would meta-analyses show us about the curriculum of PhD programs of PA?

Fourth, JPAE would like to expand the information on our international programs by examining some of the following questions:

  • What is the role of the MPA degree in China?
  • What is the MPA across borders, a critical analysis of the distinctions in degrees across countries and cultures?

Lastly, we are looking for research examining the efficacy of the MPA and the future of the field. Questions on this topic may include the following:

  • Why do people enroll in MPA programs?
  • How have PhD in PA programs changed, and what influences placements of new PhD in PA graduates?
  • What are the best practices for recruiting students into a field that has lost its attractiveness?
  • How should we be thinking about executive education?

Providing solid research on these issues will help advance the scholarship of teaching and learning in our field. By doing so, we will protect and promote JPAE’s legacy.

If you are working in these areas of research, please contact us.


Author: Bruce McDonald, Ph.D. is an associate professor and MPA director at North Carolina State University. He can be reached at [email protected]. William Hatcher, Ph.D. is an associate professor and MPA director at Augusta University. He can be reached at [email protected].

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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