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Josef Korbel School of International Studies


Master of Public Policy (MPP)

Great Issue Forums

The Great Issue Forums are a series of policy seminars focused on some of the nation's most current issues. The topics of these unique seminars rotate frequently, as expertise and events warrant, and are an integral part of the MPP program.

Recent forums

Building a Sustainable Colorado

Skip Spensley, environmental lawyer and consultant, and Gov. Richard Lamm

This two day seminar focused on the management of four main issues related to sustainability in Colorado: population growth, energy, infrastructure and transportation, and water resources. Guest speakers included Justice Gregory Hobbs, Gov. Bill Ritter, and Tom Easley (Director, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization).

Don’t Panic! Strategies for Securing the Homeland and Defeating Terror, Pandemic, Cybercrime and Fiscal Collapse in the Age of Dysfunctional Government

Richard Caldwell, Kimon Valavanis, James Arundel, Robert Fusfeld

This two day seminar examined the intersection between the financial crisis of 2008, cybercrime and security, national security, and crisis management. Special guest speaker: Kevin Klein (Director, Colorado Homeland Security).

American National Security and Foreign Policy in the Age of Fiscal Constraint
Michael O'Hanlon, Ph.D. Director of Research on Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution and Senior Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence

This forum will be structured as a series of high-level briefings on American National Security and Foreign Policy. Students are encouraged to build their understanding of these areas of vital national interest and policy concern from the group up and to approach the complexities of war, peace, and negotiation with an open mind. 

Our core objective is to create both a historical and contemporary context for current policy debates and to enable students to (1) define current threats to American interests and security; (2) understand current policies of American government; (3) articulate alternatives to current policies; (4) relate national security issues to domestic priorities, such as budgetary reform and economic growth; and (5) project outcomes based on current policy trajectories. 

The Economics of Great Powers
Tim Kane, Ph.D. Chief Economist at The Hudson Institute

This forum will explore a fundamental and determinative question in public policy: What is the relationship between fiscal imbalance and the decline of a great power?

With specific reference to both history and to current public policy we will explore the limits of debt, deficit, and entitlement in the contemporary American context. Is American in decline? If so, what does this mean? Can decline be avoided? If so, how?

Students will be asked to consider, with an open mind, the ways in which the Redistributive State, with its origins in the Neal Dean and the Great Society, has outlived its usefulness and undermined future prosperity, economic growth and the rule of law, and American hegemony. 

The American Fiscal Future: Solvency, Security, Sanity and Sovereignty in the 21st Century
Co-Director Richard Caldwell

This course, which is specifically designed for graduate students in public policy and related disciplines, will provide an intensive opportunity for the advanced student to:

  1. develop a comprehensive understanding of American fiscal policy;
  2. understand the history and political dynamic of the modern redistribution/social welfare mode;
  3. delineate the potential policy, political, and social consequences of fiscal policy dysfunction; and
  4. create policy alternatives to potential insolvency and instability.

Comparative Ideas and Policies,
Instructor Natasha Leger, consultant, Deloitte & Touche & attorney, Harlan Abrahams

This forum focused on incorporating a comparative perspective to better understand domestic policies—their strengths and weaknesses—as they relate to national and global implications.

Education Policy
Peter Groff, Colorado state senator, District 33

Senator Groff's forum featured discussion of education funding, state mandated standards, school vouchers and Colorado Amendment 23. Included were presentations by a diverse group of policy professionals including representatives of the Colorado Children's Campaign, Colorado League of Charter Schools, Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Education Association, and Colorado Association of School Boards.

Entitlements, Public Policy of Medicare and Social Security Reform
Gov. Richard D. Lamm, Colorado governor 1975-1987 and Sarah Kuehl
analyst, U.S. Senate Budget Committee

An in-depth examination of the fiscal challenges of an aging America focused largely on Social Security and Medicare programs. Topics included important demographic trends, the budget implications of an aging society, various reform proposals, and the role of the interest groups in the debate.

Gov. Richard D. Lamm, Colorado governor 1975-1987

Students examined the history of American immigration policy and the contemporary pressures for immigration reform in America. The forum also examined the questions of assimilation and the various interpretations of what it means to be an American. Specific areas of inquiry include the first "Great Wave" of immigration of the 1880s, changes in immigration policy in the 1920s and 1960s and policy reasons for both immigration and for limiting immigration.

The Initiative Process
Alexis Senger, chief legislative analyst, Joint Budget Committee, Colorado General Assembly

The initiative process as been called the "unexamined arena of power politics." Is direct democracy the "tyranny of the masses," or is it government "for the people, by the people"? Guest speakers included Dennis Gallagher, Denver city auditor, Mike Feeley, Baker & Hostetler, LLP, and Cary Kennedy, director of policy, Office of Colorado House Speaker Romanoff.

National Security, Modern War and the New Threat Environment
Chris Carr, professor, U.S. Air War College

All professions have their own discrete language and cultural mores, but the defense sector is more opaque and separate than most professions. Indeed, secrecy is an inherent element of national security policy. This forum provided a comprehensive analysis of the structure and function of the national security community.