Dan Matisoff
“Public policy is such a growing field,” Dan says. “The training that SPEA provides is in such high demand and is so unique that it makes us very valuable in the marketplace.”

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Economic Development

The Economic Development concentration focuses on the strategic management of places: neighborhoods, villages, cities, rural regions, states, countries, or even groups of countries.

While the geographic and political dimensions may vary, there is a common policy concern: how to manage and develop assets and resources to improve the quality of life and standard of living in a sustainable manner. The context may vary between rural and urban areas, but the policy focus on creating positive and sustainable change is the same.

In this concentration you'll learn the theory and the tools, as well as the practical skills. You'll also learn about economic development policy across a broad range of contexts and settings, taking advantage of case studies and insights provided both locally and globally. In the Economic Development concentration, you'll learn what works and what doesn't, and how the context makes a difference.

In addition, the Economic Development concentration also provides a platform for careers in the private sector, since many companies partner with economic development agencies. Examples of organizations that hire economic development specialists include:

  • Indiana Economic Development Council
  • Monroe County Economic Development Commission
  • State Rural Economic Development Office
  • Council of Great Lakes Governors
  • Science, Technology and Economic Policy Board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Curriculum for the Economic Development Concentration

Like all students in the Master of Public Affairs program, students in the Economic Development concentration begin building their skills in the 18-hour MPA core. The core courses are:

  • Public Management (V502)
  • Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (V506)
  • Public Management Economics (V517)
  • Law and Public Affairs (V540)
  • Public Finance and Budgeting (V560)
  • Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (V600)

The concentration includes three required courses which provide the fundamental theories and tools of economic development:

  • Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs (V507)
  • Seminar in Urban Economic Development (V622)
  • Economic Development, Globalization and Entrepreneurship (V669)

SPEA also offers a wide range of elective courses to meet individual objectives. This broad range of possibilities enables you to focus your concentration on those aspects that you wish to pursue and to develop career-enhancing capabilities. For example, while some Economic Development students will pursue a concentration focusing on the strategic management of U.S. cities, other students will focus more on rural regions. With the approval of an Economic Development advisor, students may select from many elective options, including the following:

  • Public Management Information Systems (V516)
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis of Public and Environmental Policies (V541)
  • The Planning Process (V563)
  • Urban Management (V564)
  • Public Financial Administration (V567)
  • Management of Urban Government Services (V568)
  • Introduction to Comparative and International Affairs (V578)
  • Analytical Methods in Planning and Policy Analysis (V593)
  • Seminar in Revenue Theory and Administration (V609)
  • Seminar in Government Budget and Program Analysis (V610)
  • Seminar in Public Capital and Debt Theory (V667)

For complete details of the Economic Development curriculum, please see the Graduate Bulletin.

Institute for Development Strategies

The Institute for Development Strategies is a valuable resource and focal point for students choosing the Economic Development concentration. The Institute for Development Strategies, sponsored by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Office of Research, and the University Graduate School, is a university-wide research program linking faculty resources from various departments and campuses and integrating them with external projects and research being undertaken elsewhere in this country and in other countries.

The institute is interdisciplinary and focuses on research to promote economic development at the city, regional, national, and international levels. A particular focus of the institute is on the links between globalization, entrepreneurship, and the strategic management of regions to promote economic development. The Institute also serves as the editorial office of one of the leading scholarly journals on entrepreneurship and economic development policies, Small Business Economics: An International Journal.

The Institute for Development Strategies has a series of Visiting Research Scholars, organizes conferences and seminars, and interacts with a wide spectrum of research partners located throughout the world. Examples of major research projects undertaken by the Institute for Development Strategies were sponsored by:

  • The Southern Indiana Business Alliance to evaluate the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division
  • The World Bank to analyze the impact of technological diffusion in Mexico
  • The National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the impact of the Small Business Innovation Research Program
  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to analyze the links between entrepreneurship and economic development
  • The National Research Council to evaluate the prospects of a technology park at the Ames NASA site in California

Dual Concentrations

Dual concentrations with Economic Development and other concentrations offered by SPEA - such as Comparative and International Affairs or Local Government Management - offer unique advantages for those wanting to make a difference in particular areas of public affairs. Our faculty work to accommodate these specialized professional interests in the design of student programs.