Earlier his month members of our Master of Public Administration program attended and presented at the 2019 Southeastern Conference of Public Administration (SECoPA) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. SECoPA is an annual gathering of researchers, practitioners, and students who share innovative ideas, engage in scholarly discussion, and network with the public service community. Students Amanda Henderson and Michaela Abbott attended this years conference.
At SECoPA, I presented on the Overrepresentation of Individuals with Mental Illness in Prisons. I looked at the history of policy surrounding mental health and incarceration and the current political climate surrounding mental health and incarceration. I studied different advocacy groups and their agendas relating to the FIRST STEP Act. I then did a comparative analysis of three different policy alternatives (four of you include do nothing) and proposed a policy solution. I recommended incorporating biophilic design into prisons as it would not be overly expensive, has shown evidence of reducing rates of recidivism, and won’t overly disrupt the political status quo. Biophilic design is connecting to nature whether that be physical plants or design that resembles plants and is the philosophy that connecting to nature reduces stress and anxiety because it is a connection to our origins. I am grateful for the opportunity to present at this conference. I enjoyed networking with peers, faculty, and career administrators. Personally, I gained confidence and affirmation in my position as an academic and future professional in the field.
At SECoPA, I presented my work that is co-authored with Dr. Millesen. In our research, we examine a successful STEM invention as a model for getting women into office. We craft a theoretical framework to identify the successful argument’s logic in order to apply it to female representation in politics. It was an honor to present my research and I thoroughly enjoyed networking with scholars and practitioners in the field. The only other conference I’ve been to was much larger, and while that had its perks, it truly can’t compare with the SECoPA community. Friendly, tight-knit, willing to help, and welcoming are just a few ways I’d describe the people I met during the conference. It makes me that much more excited to attend the next conference!