New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin was among a group of elected officials who visited campus on March 29 to help Montclair State University launch its new Policy Studies major in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS).
Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin were also on hand as part of the salon-style discussion event at the University’s School of Communication and Media building, which featured a conversation between Coughlin and Professor of Political Science and Law and department chairperson Brigid Callahan Harrison.
“This is a terrific program that captures what you need in order to get things done,” said Coughlin. “The combination of a traditional liberal arts education with courses in specific subject areas will give students a well-rounded skill set that will allow them to adapt to a lot of different situations. Those are the types of people we look for in our offices, so students in this program will be well-positioned as they begin their careers.”
The major in Policy Studies will enable students to merge the benefits of a classic liberal arts education with courses in political science, economics, information technology, sociology, earth and environmental studies, child advocacy and public health to prepare them to enter the workforce as policy analysts, advisors and advocates.
Policy Studies majors will be prepared to perform policy analysis and creation in a diversity of settings, including in municipal, state and federal government agencies as elected officials; foreign policy settings; as policy advocates and activists; and with issue and interest groups, nonprofits, and corporate and organized labor entities.
“So much of what we read about government officials focuses on the angriest and darkest sides of politics. But the real work of government is creating policies, and these officials are busy learning about our problems and how they can help solve them,” said CHSS Dean Peter Kingstone. “Our job is to create programs that are of service to New Jersey, and to help solve our state and nation’s problems with innovative solutions. This program is a direct response to the need for a new generation of policymakers that will serve the public, and allows students to develop practical skills that will help solve tomorrow’s challenges.”
“We’re excited to harness the power of Montclair State University’s diverse academic program in this multidisciplinary offering that will train the next generation of students who are willing to roll up their sleeves and use their expertise to improve lives in our communities, state and nation,” said Harrison, who has served as the lead faculty member in developing the new program.
During the conversation in front of an audience of students, faculty and staff, Coughlin discussed how policies are created in New Jersey government, what his day-to-day is like as a government official, his advocacy for food insecure communities and New Jersey’s affordability agenda.
He also provided advice for students looking to enter into careers in government and policy making.
“Show up. Get involved in a campaign,” remarked Coughlin. “Learn to talk to people, and learn to listen to people. Show up to learn and to work towards a common goal and to change things. The bonds you’ll make will last a lifetime, and you’ll start to figure out where you’ll see yourself and what you want your future to be.”
For more information on the Policy Studies major at Montclair, visit the Department of Political and Law’s website.