New initiative at Brown’s Watson Institute aims to broaden access to education, careers in public policy

A new Equity in Policy Scholars pilot program at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs strives to expand representation and leadership development for the next generation of global leaders.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs has launched a three-year pilot program to attract and support academically talented graduate students from a diverse array of backgrounds who are preparing for careers in public affairs.

The new Equity in Policy Scholars program will welcome its first students in June 2025, backed by a $2 million investment in funds. The cohort-based program will provide leadership, mentorship and community building components, support from Brown alumni, and full financial support for five students per year who are admitted to Brown’s master of public affairs program.

Watson Institute director Edward Steinfeld said the program will strengthen the institute’s commitment to expanding the pipeline of future global leaders, who will shape advocacy and public policy for the next generation.

“[It’s important to] encourage participation in public policy careers by individuals with the widest possible range of backgrounds and experiences, including backgrounds that have required [them] to overcome hardship and become personally acquainted with ongoing injustices and inequities in our society,” Steinfeld said. “Only through broader inclusion of diverse perspectives and experiences can we truly hope to solve great societal challenges.”

The program aims to remove financial barriers to obtaining an MPA degree at Brown by providing each participating student with a full-tuition scholarship, a generous stipend and professional development funds. To be considered for admission, prospective students must either be attending or have graduated from a historically Black college or university, a Hispanic-serving institution or a tribal college or university; be a current participant or graduate of a public-service-oriented pipeline program; be a first-generation college student; be a Rhode Island resident; or have demonstrated leadership experience and a commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in public policy or global and public affairs.

“This program seeks to attract students who will bring a greater diversity of experience, perspective and background not just to our master of public affairs program, but to the world of public policy they’ll inhabit in their subsequent careers,” Steinfeld said.

This piece was adapted from a story by Pete Bilderback at Brown’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Read the full article on the Watson Institute website.