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The Public Purpose Journal Celebrates 15 Years with Latest Edition

The Public Purpose. Journal of American University's School of Public Affairs. Spring 2017.

The Public Purpose Journal—the peer-reviewed journal of SPA graduate students—unveiled its 2017 edition with presentations from the authors of the six academic articles.

“We are very proud to release the 15th edition of the Public Purpose Journal,” said Editor-in-Chief Kate Osterback, SPA/MPP ’17. “As a student-run organization, our longevity is a testament to the commitment of our students over the years. We are grateful to the SPA faculty and staff, especially Professor Laura Langbein, who has served as a faculty reviewer on all 15 editions of the print journal.”

Paula Acevedo, SPA/MPA ’16, published an article on the rising prices of prescription drugs in her article. According to Acevedo, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made notable changes to the healthcare system left the pharmaceutical industry largely untouched. Acevedo’s findings point to the potential of implementing legislation that would allow drug importation.

Also on the issue of healthcare, Henry Watson, MPP ’18, analyzed potential improvements for the current system to avoid a complete dismantling of it. His article touched on the challenges caused by rising insurance costs and the withdrawal of insurance companies from the marketplace. Watson identified ways to potentially improve the system, including a general public health insurance option, and an expansion of Medicaid and Medicare.

Jose De Bastos, SPA/MA ’17, whose study was voted “best paper” by his peers and faculty reviewers, focused his research on the role international organizations have in preventing democracies from turning into authoritarian governments. His article focuses on ‘democratic backslidings’ in Hungary and Venezuela, and how the European Union and the United States have, for the most part, failed to defend the democratic values they are founded upon.

Kelly Mason, SPA/MS ’18, published her study on how to prevent people in extremism-prevalent locations from radicalization. Her article focuses on the effectiveness of ‘credible voices’ in stopping an increase in extremism, and how these voices could collaborate with different organizations to combat terrorism.

James Lagasse, SPA/MPP/JD ’19, wrote his paper on the complicated relationship between Congress and the Executive Branch when it comes to foreign policy. His article focused on the negotiations between the Clinton Administration and the government of North Korea to freeze its nuclear program, and the opposition from Congress.

In an article written by Rui Wang, SPA/MPP ’17, he explained why, despite a notable economic expansion in recent years, China has been able to decrease its pollutant emissions. Wang concluded that most of the cleanup is due to the ‘composition effect,’ and that Chinese manufacturing technology still needs to be updated. He also considered the international trade of China, and how ‘dirty industries’ are moving out of the country.

Tolu Odukoya, SPA/MS ’17, President of the Executive Board, said that the Public Purpose this year received “an exceptional number of submissions, from which we picked six papers that reflected the excellence and spirit of the School of Public Affairs.” She added that for 15 years, the journal has worked to “create writers, editors and managers who could go into the real world with experience and resume-worthy skills, and we hope to continue in that trend.”

Vanessa and Ben Henneke, founders of The International Small Group & Tree Planting Program, were the keynote speakers for the journal’s launch event. They spoke about their project to empower subsistence farmers in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and India, who work to reverse the effects of deforestation and drought, through local sustainable development.

The Public Purpose Journal was established 15 years ago. In that time, it has published the work of close to 90 graduate students in the School of Public Affairs. All the previous editions of The Public Purpose Journal can be found on their website,, where you can also read numerous short-form articles written by SPA graduate students on several public policy topics, with new content posted throughout the year.