Woodrow Wilson would have approved of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. The first and only U.S. president with a Ph.D., Wilson earned his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins University after convincing his professors to allow him wide latitude for research in history, economics and political science. While his intellectual reach was global, he returned to the Hopkins campus for many years to teach six-week courses in public administration, with an emphasis -- rare in his day -- on local and urban governments.
In some ways, this reflected the scholastic initiatives of the Hopkins Seminary of History and Politics, a 19th century innovation at Hopkins which dared to leap over academic confines to conceive of Baltimore and cities generally as "social laboratories" for research into theory and applications. With their emphasis on the plight of the poor and the interplay of the public and private sectors in addressing these needs, these seminars were indeed precursors of the main thrusts of the current IPS agenda. Wilson's dedication to public service, combined with his intellectual accomplishments, is a model for students in the Master of Arts in Policy Studies program today.
Yet, if IPS can trace its roots to the early years of the nation's pioneer research university, it also is in stride with the Johns Hopkins vision of the future. The report of the university's Committee for the 21st Century, a 1994 work projecting the University's outlook for 2010, welcomed "encouraging signs of partnership between the University and its surrounding communities," and viewed interdisciplinary work as a beacon for the future of research and higher education. IPS takes an interdisciplinary approach, stressing research and analysis that taps into many academic disciplines while eagerly exploiting the hard, practical knowledge of those active in politics and government.
There is no idea as uplifting as the idea of service to humanity, President Wilson once said. His statement accurately describes the mission of the Institute for Policy Studies.