Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences


The Grad Post Fall 2019, Student Spotlight, Ashley Thornton

Master of Public Administration

What drew you to Georgia Southern for your graduate studies?

I came to Georgia Southern for my undergrad…and just never left! I began working here as a student employee in Eagle Dining Services’ Catering Department and worked my way up to a full-time position after graduation. After a couple years, I was able to change jobs within the University and have now been the Administrative Specialist in the Office of the President for the past three years. The University offers a wonderful Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides a great deal of help for employees pursuing additional education. Without this help, I never would have been able to attend graduate school. I am so thankful to Georgia Southern for that opportunity and for the support I’ve received from my office. I cannot wait to be a Double Eagle next Spring!

What are your Georgia Southern “points of pride?” What is one thing you are most proud of during your time here at Georgia Southern?

One of my biggest points of pride is the connections I’ve made and continue to make here. Since my own educational path was pretty twisty and non-traditional, I’m able to help guide other students and provide advice from a very unique perspective. It is very rare that I walk around campus and don’t see someone that I know, either through work or classes. That’s such a welcoming feeling that has made this place feel like “home” for many years now. I love being part of this community and doing my part (however small it may be) to make others feel that way.

Are you a part of an internship or co-op experience? What are you doing? What are you learning?

As a full-time employee in the public sector, I am considered an “in-service” student in my program, so my every day job resembles an unofficial co-op of sorts. Every single class that I have taken thus far in my program has given me tools and knowledge that I can use in my current career. Being both an employee and a student makes for a truly interesting and productive learning environment (even though it can be very tiring!). I have already experienced many of the things we learn about in class, but my classes go beyond and build upon those experiences. They are teaching me the actual theory and best practices that contribute to the larger picture of how public organizations work as a whole.

How is Georgia Southern preparing you for your future career?

My English undergraduate degree already laid a strong foundation by developing and honing my critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills. These skills will never become obsolete no matter what direction the workforce takes in the future. My graduate program is expanding even more upon that. The M.P.A. program focuses on how to be an effective and efficient manager in the public sector, but this degree also stretches beyond just a job at a public organization. It is all about learning how to be an effective leader in general, how to manage people and resources according to their best interests and assets, and how to build better relationships and better organizations no matter where that might lead you. I’m gaining another invaluable skillset that will guide me in my current job as well as any other career that I decide to pursue in the future.


Georgia Southern public administration students place first in simulation competition

Last week, Georgia Southern University Master of Public Administration (MPA) students Gina Pate, Austin Hinkley and Colin Karnes placed first in the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)-Batten Global Student Simulation Competition at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The Georgia Southern/UNC-Chapel Hill NASPAA Batten Global Student Simulation Competition team.

“We are thrilled to be the Regional Winners,”  Pate said. “Our team took a different approach than the other teams because we focused on humanitarian values and regional cooperation to guide our policy decisions.”

The simulation involved the growing global migration crisis and was structured to resemble a real-world scenario. During the competition, each team was assigned a simulated world and country. Individual team members were assigned a cabinet position in their governments, which controlled specific policy options that affected the migration crisis for each nation. In these roles, teams made specific policy decisions that had direct impacts on the number of migrants in the country, the rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth, migrant employment rate, citizen favorability and the country’s human rights index.

“Our team gave resources to other countries in need, and focused on providing high-level services to refugees, subsidiary protected migrants and humanitarian protected migrants in our country,” Karnes said.

The team, who was joined by two students from the University of North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill), also focused on human rights and ethical treatment of refugees as a key component to their strategy during the competition. Human rights were an essential portion of the simulation and weighed heavily for the judges. The team worked together to formulate policy to ensure that human rights were guaranteed and promoted throughout the region, while also focusing on the services in their own country.

The team’s data and presentation will now be sent for judging in the global NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation championship rounds against the regional winners from around the world.

This year’s competition involved 585 graduate students from 157 universities competing at 11 global sites. After several rounds of competition and an oral policy brief, the Georgia Southern/UNC-Chapel Hill team placed first out of 12 teams in the regional competition, beating out teams from Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, George Washington University, the University of Pittsburgh and Regent University.

Pate, a fourth semester MPA candidate, plans to graduate this semester and pursue a career in local government management, while Karnes and Hinkley are third semester MPA candidates who plan to graduate in fall 2019. They are both interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in public policy after graduation.

NASPAA is the global standard in public service education. It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public and nonprofit management. NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master’s degree programs in these fields, including Georgia Southern’s MPA program. For more information visit the Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies at

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


Patsy Kraeger Receives Quality of Life Research Certification

Dr. Patsy Kraeger (Assistant Professor, Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies) has completed the International Society for Quality of Life Studies certification in quality of life research, with a focus on community indicators program.  This certificate is facilitated by the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (, a global organization that promotes and encourages research in the field of quality-of-life (QOL); and the Management Institute for Quality-of-Life Studies (, which conducts quality-of-life management-related research for business, nonprofit, and government organizations.  This course focuses on the process of planning, developing, and implementing community QOL indicators in the context of a town, county, city, rural area, or a metropolitan region. The program is designed to help Quality Of-Life (QOL) researchers specializing in community indicators projects, obtain additional training, and become officially certified in the field.

Dr. Kraeger’s primary research interests are focused on the social economy, social enterprise and innovation, performance management and governance in the public and nonprofit sectors, and the study of philanthropy vis-à-vis democracy. She also researches in the area of quality of life studies. Her research has been presented at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, the International Society for Third Sector Research, the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS), and the Western Social Science Association conferences. She serves on the ISQOLS Board of Directors Member and also serves on the ISQOLS Executive Committee as the Co-Vice President of Publicity/Membership. She is the co-chair for the Public Administration Section of the Western Social Science Association.  She has research and other academic writings appearing in the Journal of Public Affairs Education, Public Administration Review, the International Journal of Public Administration, NVSQ, and Voluntas.

Public and Nonprofit Studies Hosts Poverty Simulation

A Poverty Simulation hosted by the Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies, the Business Innovation Group and the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and Step Up Savannah was hosted on Sept. 15 in the Russell Union Ballroom on the Statesboro Campus was featured in the Statesboro Herald.

Written by Julie Lavender in an article entitled A Life of Struggles, the Herald recapped the event which featured students, faculty and members of the Statesboro community including Mayor Jonathan McCollar.

The participants went through segments representing a week of time in the life of an impoverished family. The participants had to deal with homelessness, getting food, medical care, paying the bills and overcoming other obstacles.

You can read the full article here.

Georgia Southern’s M.P.A. Program Receives Accreditation from NASPAA

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has granted the Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program at Georgia Southern full accreditation for seven years.

The University’s M.P.A. program joins more than 190 degrees accredited by NASPAA worldwide, and was recognized by the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation for substantial conformity with NASPAA standards. The program is housed in the Institute for Public and Nonprofit Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Trent Davis, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Public and Nonprofit Studies, led the program through the rigorous peer-review process and has served as the director of the institute since 2012.

“It is a mark of quality in terms of the cutting edge training in public and nonprofit management that students can expect to receive,” said Davis. “Successfully accrediting the M.P.A. program required commitment from the program faculty, our students, University administration, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean Curtis Ricker, D.A., and the M.P.A. Program advisory board.”

Georgia Southern was one of eight other M.P.A. programs that received accreditation on July 18.

“It [NASPAA accreditation] is also a signal that the program’s faculty are leaders in the field and are actively engaged in public service-based education and research,” Davis said. “The M.P.A. program’s NASPAA accreditation coupled with the department’s status as a member of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC), demonstrates our strong commitment to training the current and next generation of public and nonprofit sector leaders.”

NASPAA is the global standard in public service education. It is the membership association of 325 schools of public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public and nonprofit management. NASPAA is also the recognized global accreditor of master’s degree programs in these fields, having accredited more than 190 programs from its member schools. NASPAA’s twofold mission is to promote excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers 118 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit


Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies • P.O. Box 8048 • Statesboro, Georgia • 912-478-1400

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