A youthful laugh bubbles up in Yao Yin as she relates changing her major focus of study at OSU to a Master of Public Policy after she had already earned her master’s degree in Molecular Cellular Biology.
“I wanted to do more on the human side of helping protect the environment, like studying wave power on the Oregon coast,” Yin said.
Yin was born in Jinan, China, under the influence of her biologist grandfather. On the MPP Web site, Yin says she “joined an expedition to Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to save and protect the local endangered sheep — Procapra przewalskii. That experience greatly inspired my dream to be an environmentalist to contribute to China’s environmental protection and conservation.”
Yin says she wants to earn her PhD in Environmental Sociology and become an environmental researcher, either at a university or think tank.
In 2003, Oregon State University began offering the Master of Public Policy to graduate students interested in social, environmental, international, and rural policy.
As of June, there were 42 students enrolled in the program and many of them, like Yin, are from another country.
“Diversity is the most important part of the (MPP) program,” Yin says. “We have students from all over and we all help each other out. It’s responsible to explore (the world) when people are young and changing, I think.”
While many other universities offer a degree in public administration, the OSU program focuses specifically on policy design and the research that supports the design. It is the only program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
The program is offered by faculty in the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Economics, Political Science and Sociology. MPP students can also design programs of study with faculty in such colleges as Education, Forestry, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.
“It’s a true interdisciplinary program,” Steel said. “Each discipline has a different lens by which to look at the world, and the cooperation (between disciplines) at OSU is amazing.”
Some of the students recognized this spring were:
- Lauren Goschke, Elizabeth O’Neill and Yin were selected and received scholarships to participate in the National Education for Women’s Leadership Conference that is being held at Portland State University, June 19 to 24.
- Stephanie Ogden and Vince Adams won the 2008 University Club of Portland Scholarship and the 2008 Oregon Lottery Scholarship.
- Catherine Clark and Yin delivered a whitepaper, “The Sustainability of Biomass Energy in the Pacific Northwest,” at the Biomass Feedstock Partnership Workshop sponsored by OSU Sun Grant in Portland on Aug. 27-29, 2007.
- O’Neill published a report on “Paid Maternity Leave for the Institute for Women’s Policy.” She presented the findings of the report at a U.S. Congressional subcommittee during August, 2007. O’Neill has also been appointed as a research assistant for the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State.
Students in the Master of Public Policy program have the opportunity to work with faculty in a variety of related OSU units, including the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, the Institute for Natural Resources, and OSU’s Land Grant, Sea Grant and Sun Grant programs.
The students are required to do an internship, Steel noted, and many are engaged in projects that are affecting real people in significant ways.