New minor struggles with enrollment

The start of the 2013 spring semester marks the second semester for NKU’s most recent edition to its selection of minors, public service. So far, faculty from the department said their new minor has yet to gain the popularity they would have hoped.

The public service minor is a facet of the public administration program, which is part of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences. NKU introduced the minor at the start of the fall semester in 2012 to replace the public administration minor. At this time, there are only seven students enrolled in the minor, according to Shamima Ahmed, department chair. She and the other department faculty, however; would certainly like to see more.

“The public service minor aims to prepare students for leadership positions in government and nonprofits, and has a focus on public sector values, such as matters of ethics and accountability,” said Ahmed. “I believe anyone can benefit from this minor, regardless of their major, and those who don’t want to take the full public service minor can even just take it as a concentration. It provides students with all sorts of marketable skills, from planning and decision making to research and knowledge of fundraising.”

The page for public service on NKU’s website lists a variety of potential career prospects for students who choose to go into the minor. These include service delivery or management in a local, state or federal agency, positions in nonprofit organizations, children and social service programs and educational administration just to name a few.

Beth DeVantier, MPA program coordinator, said that public service is a worthwhile avenue and there are diverse opportunities in the field. “The younger generation has grown up with an emphasis on community service, and the area of public service is really just an extension of that,” she said.

“There are plenty of nonprofits out there in need of help, and there are jobs to be had in local, state and even federal government. Also, you’ll see more positions opening up in public service as the baby boomers start to retire, and there becomes more of a need for younger workers.”

Both she and Ahmed agree that the lack of popularity in the public service minor is mainly because it’s relatively new and many students are unaware that it’s available. “The problem is just that a lot of people don’t know about it,” said Ahmed. “But we’d love to get more people interested in public service, and we really hope to be able to offer more courses in it each semester as enrollment in the minor grows.”

One of the public service electives that is being offered this semester is economic policy. Michael Baronowski, political science professor and instructor of the course, said that a training in public service could come in handy for anyone.

“Gaining a knowledge of public service gives us a good background on how government works, and what to expect in the public sector,” he said. “Since you’re likely to come across economic and political issues no matter what your field, having an understanding role in these issues can definitely be useful.”