Pursuing Public Policy as a Field of Study: A Few Principles, Tips, and Advice

Witnessing individuals stand up, converse out towards injustices, and protest, is a life-changing expertise. It positively was one for me. A decade in the past, barely a few months into faculty, watching the unravelling of the Arab Spring impressed me to vary my profession targets and embark on a journey to higher perceive the world of authorities and public coverage. While my journey remains to be younger, I’ve discovered a few classes and rules alongside the way in which that could be of profit to anybody beginning theirs.

Consider your choices

The first precept in pursuing a path in public coverage is to take steps to maintain your choices open in your supply of revenue. Why? There are a few elements at play. The first is the fact of the job market. Government jobs pay one of the best within the area, however they are often scarce (and not like the non-public sector, there’s no startup able to disrupt the area).

Government jobs, of course, aren’t the one choice (and for many individuals, it’s not what they wish to do). Another route is to work at non-profits, or suppose tanks. Pay in these areas will significantly range, relying on the status (and donor base) of the group. As with the general public sector, right here too jobs will be scarce.

How do you retain your choices open? Investing in abilities that may translate (and even aren’t related to public coverage) is a good place to begin. Software programming, communications, or information analytics are some examples of abilities that may offer you choices to fall again on. Learning an in-demand language is an alternative choice.

While considering of your revenue isn’t, and truthfully shouldn’t, be the motivation for coming into public coverage (I at all times dodged the ‘how will you make a living?’ questions in faculty), it’s a sensible consideration that may ultimately meet up with you. This can are available in varied methods, and is exclusive to every particular person’s circumstances. The worst-case situation is that if one begins to think about bending their moral framework once they discover themselves in a monetary squeeze. The freedom to have the ability to stroll away from one thing in an effort to keep your moral code is extraordinarily highly effective, and abilities that hold your job choices open assist significantly.

Maintaining your moral code is of the upmost significance on this area (and bear in mind you can nonetheless affect coverage discussions regardless of your job title).

Take on a non-career mindset

Another precept to bear in mind is to keep away from considering of what you’re doing primarily as a profession. The concept that you just’ll simply work your method up and improve your revenue, job title, or employer advantages needs to be dropped earlier than setting out on this journey.

Why is that this necessary? Many main life choices are made with the thought of a linear profession trajectory in thoughts. People take out mortgages and automobile loans with the expectation of a rise in buying energy as their careers progress. This can’t be the expectation within the public realm. While this recommendation is arguably relevant in different sectors, I imagine it’s completely vital for anybody contemplating working in public coverage earlier than starting the journey.

Political winds continually shift, and will probably be confronted with tough decisions. It is necessary to suit your work to your ethics, and not the opposite method round. Dropping the mindset of a linear profession, mixed with investing in abilities that provide the choice to stroll away if wanted, are two methods to make that occur.

Avoid insiderness

The world of public coverage is advanced, and it requires effort, examine, and a eager eye to know the social position that public businesses play. At instances, the concepts and ideas change into overly technical and inaccessible to a normal viewers. This can convey with it a sense of ‘insiderness’, and a normal feeling of ‘being in the know.’ Knowing the lingo and speaking factors is necessary, however it might disconnect you from the individuals that you’ve got down to serve (at worst, it may be a method to intimidate those that aren’t ‘in the know’).

Having a sense of humility, of course, is critical for any facet of a Muslim’s life. A area by which you’re anticipated to offer options to society’s issues, and to persuade others of your options, arguably has an inherit battle with that sense of humility. But that doesn’t need to be the case. The secret’s to discovering a method to engender a countervailing expertise towards the highs of insiderness. The one which I imagine in, and ties in to the purpose earlier on constructing abilities for optionality, is to study a language.

Why study a language? There are a number of causes. The most related one right here has to do with the method of studying a language itself. This brings with it the expertise of having to study to ‘speak’ once more. You put your self in a context the place your phrases, and in some methods your capacity to be heard, are taken away from you. This alone can engender a completely different sense of humility.

Learning a language additionally grounds you with the expertise of not having your voice understood by others. It builds an appreciation for individuals whose voice won’t be heard within the coverage course of. Simultaneously, your new language will open the door to studying from new voices and views.

Learn from custom

Public coverage is a secularized area, however that doesn’t imply that our custom can’t inform our mindset entering into it. One notably salient space is retaining in thoughts tips on how to view success. Stepping in with a dedication to your ethics naturally means discarding the concept that success means a particular title or place related together with your identify.

How then must you view success? It begins with accepting that you could be not dwell to see the fruits of your labor. Your identify could by no means be identified on this world. Success in a worldly sense isn’t why you’ve stepped on this path.

This doesn’t imply not being formidable. It’s necessary to have ambition. Just don’t let your ambition override your values in deciding what to do. Learning the tales of historic figures from our custom who’ve confronted related struggles helps with this. Examples embrace, simply to call a few, Imam Shamil of Dagestan who resisted Russian imperialism, Imam Malik Ibn Anas who refused to vary his beliefs when pressured by political authorities, and Nizam al-Din Awliya whose household have been made refugees as a result of Mongol invasions and needed to subsequently construct a new life in India.

Another space to study, as Imam Dawud Walid suggests in Towards Sacred Activism, is finding out usul-ul-fiqh and aqeedah, which can assist complement your coverage research and additional floor your data of the world.


Aim excessive in no matter good you search to do. Just consider who actually offers success. And then, prepare for the journey you’re about to take.

The put up Pursuing Public Policy as a Field of Study: A Few Principles, Tips, and Advice appeared first on MuslimIssues.org.

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