June 6, 2014 | Spotlight

Georgia Cities Attack Civic Challenges through Institute Collaboration

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Leaders in 10 Georgia cities gained practical knowledge they can apply to local challenges through an Institute of Government collaboration with the UGA School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).

Master of public administration students enrolled in spring semester's SPIA Local Government Practicum worked with municipal leaders to address issues as diverse as fueling police cars with natural gas and creating an effective inventory control system.

GMA selects cities to participate in the practicum, which was taught by Ted Baggett, the Institute's Local Government Program manager and a SPIA-affiliated faculty member.

"The practicum gives students an opportunity to work with busy practitioners of the profession they are studying to be a part of," Baggett said. "The cities get reliable information that helps them make decisions or think about what they need to do next."

Baggett matches the master's level students with the cities' project proposals. Each student frames the research question he or she wants to study, prepares a plan explaining how to best approach the project, and proposes the methods that would be most effective in addressing a city's concerns. The students submit written reports to the city they worked with and present their project results at a gathering of municipal leaders, GMA officials, and Institute faculty and staff.

Cities selected for this spring's Local Government Practicum ranged from seaport Savannah to mountaintop Sky Valley, and included Albany, Commerce, Fairburn, Griffin, Madison, Rincon, Sugar Hill, and Tybee Island.

The Institute partners with GMA and SPIA on a variety of training and outreach services, in addition to student programs.