Public service students encouraged to find answers to community problems

By

Paul Atkinson

“You are a part of the solution.”

That was the message from College of Public Service and Community Solutions dean Jonathan Koppell who welcomed new freshmen to the college at a ceremony held in the historic AE England building in downtown Phoenix.

“We have 18 research centers in this college all of which are dedicated to finding answers to challenging problems,” Koppell told students. “And you should be a part of the process of finding those answers.”

The students at the assembly are from the college’s four schools: Community Resources and Development, Criminology and Criminal Justice,  Public Affairs, and Social Work.

This is the first class of students to enter the college under its new name. It was changed from the College of Public Programs to the college of Public Service and Community Solutions in January 2015. The updated name better reflects the students that make up the college and the research and impact that research has on local, state, national and international levels.

“When we talk about research, the research is creating the solutions, right?” Koppell asked. “So you shouldn’t view it as dry and abstract. You should view it as an absolutely essential part — helping provide the answers to the challenges we face.”

Koppell cited the college’s criminal justice research that’s helping guide police departments throughout the United States adopt the use of officer-worn video cameras; domestic violence interventions that are helping break the cycle of family violence; and groundbreaking research on sex trafficking that is helping law enforcement and social service agencies identify victims and get them the help they need.

Koppell told students that, as undergraduates, they have the chance to be involved in research in their particular area of interest. To help students learn about current studies they can be a part of, the college is holding an undergraduate research fair from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Sept. 2, in the Student Center @ the Post Office.

The dean also engaged students in an exercise to give them a better understanding of the college’s mission. Koppell asked them to define a “public good.” Through their answers, and his follow up questions, students were able to discern that a “public good” is something available to all members of a community that enhances their wellbeing — be it a public place such as a park or a service such as public safety.

Koppell and associate dean Cynthia Lietz implored students to start making a difference by getting involved in student organizations, participate in the college’s day of service each semester, or volunteer in the community.