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The Public Purpose

The Interdisciplinary Journal of American University’s School of Public Affairs

The Public Purpose is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal presenting the work of graduate students from the Departments of Government; Justice, Law, and Criminology; and Public Administration and Policy. Founded in 2003, The Public Purpose is supported by the SPA Graduate Council with involvement and guidance of SPA faculty.

Spring 2014, Volume XII

Public Purpose Launch 2013

Working on The Public Purpose

There are many ways to become a part of The Public Purpose:

  • Editorial Board -- Content editors, managing editors, and web/print editors are needed.
  • Peer Reviewers -- Students from all areas of study are needed to evaluate articles, requiring a short time commitment in early spring.
  • Authors -- All SPA graduate students are eligible to submit articles for publication.

Call for Papers

The Public Purpose is seeking original, unpublished student articles on a wide range of topics affecting public policy and public affairs. We also welcomes non-research submissions of shorter length, such as book reviews on relevant public administration and/or policy issues. Submissions are currently being accepted for the Spring 2015 edition. Papers must be submitted no later than January 30, 2015.

Submission Guidelines

  • All submissions must be submitted in Chicago style, using "notes-bibliography" type footnote citations. Submissions that do not follow Chicago style will be accepted if the author is willing to change the style before publication.
  • All submissions must include an abstract of no more than 300 words. 
  • All papers must be 10-30 pages in length; not including references, charts, graphs, or appendices
  • All papers will be subject to a peer and faculty review process.
  • We prefer that you submit your article through our submissions page at!get-involved/cw6w or by email to Alyssa Spina, Editor-in-Chief, at the email address: