Exactly seven years ago, in December of 2006, I had to decide what to do with the blog I had maintained to document my experience as a Fulbright scholar in Finland. At the time I felt a little like an actor in a soap opera who is asked for ideas about how to kill off his own character. I didn’t want it to end, so I just stopped posting but left everything intact so that people could still comment on old posts. I have been glad ever since, because it has allowed the old girl to spring to life once in a while when someone stumbles onto the site, gets interested in an issue that I wrote about, and then steps forward to offer an update or further reflections. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, someone reported anonymously that the municipal government of Oulu had torn down an unusual building that had played an important role in the history of the city; I had argued for its preservation. And I thought to myself, you know, I’m glad I never pulled the plug on Fulbrighter in Finland.Now, as I prepare to take my leave from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, and as I work on designing a new blog to document another Fulbright adventure—this time in Lithuania—I need to decide what to do about the Washington Buckeye, my avatar for the past five and a half years. And serendipity being what it is, I probably should not have been surprised to find two articles in today’s Washington Post that together raise a number of questions about why, and how, we should study public affairs. In “Want to Govern? Skip Policy School,” James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley take schools of public policy to task, and in “No Such Thing as a Global Citizen,” Jakub Grygiel argues that global citizenship is a chimera and that our efforts to transcend national allegiances are both naïve and dangerous. There is much food for thought here, and in any case these essays bring us around full circle to the question of whether civic virtue can be taught.
So I think I'll just stroll away, and hope that the Washington Buckeye might endure, for a while at least, by running on the fumes.