School of Public Policy participates in BBC radio program

‘My Perfect Country’ comes to UMass

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(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Jacqueline Hayes, Collegian Staff

In a three-day event in late December, the University of Massachusetts’ School of Public Policy participated in an episode of the BBC World Service radio program “My Perfect Country.”

“My Perfect Country” covers ideas which have helped solve common problems around the world and “looks at whether they can be adopted elsewhere,” according to the BBC.

The event was organized by SPP professor Betsy Schmidt, and included appearances by BBC presenter Fi Glover and producer Anishka Sharma.

Originally, Schmidt contacted the producers of “My Perfect Country” looking for material to use in her classes, but they responded with interest in sitting in on a class with her students and recording it for the program.

“As soon as we saw the details and specifications of the course, we felt compelled to hear from these students and Professor Schmidt in person,” Sharma said. “We are frequently reminded by listeners around the world that their [favorite] part of the BBC output is solutions-based journalism – and we very much felt that giving these students a larger platform would help others feel more positive about the future, and the fact that real solutions do exist.”

Students who attended the event were excited to talk about their experience. Not only were the students interviewed by Sharma and Glover while they visited, but they also were able to speak with other global policy experts through Skype, with experts ranging in their focus areas from Uganda to Japan.

Public health major Damascus Allair said, “Each speaker either directly or indirectly mentioned the need for an inclusive perspective, especially when identifying solutions that are directed towards underserved populations.”

“Since I am pursuing a career in policy making, I found this thought particularly interesting, because I hope that sharing that perspective will result in lasting positive changes,” Allair added.

Hannah Flynn, a freshman in the exploratory track within the school of social and behavioral science, said that the experience taught her “the power of collaboration.”

“In two days, we spoke to people all over the world, from Japan to Uganda and the United Kingdom. It also was an opportunity to view the common values that we all share despite the differences that may separate us, such as simple geographical distance,” Flynn said. “The collaborative nature of the experience was energizing and quite profound.”

Jacqueline Hayes can be reached at [email protected]