Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) has opened the applications for Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024). For the first time, the program will recruit policymakers, politicians, and government officials from Laos under Mekong – U.S. Partnership Program (MUSP).
Admitted students are granted a full scholarship by the U.S. Department of State, including:
- 100% Tuition fee for MPP – Policy Analysis concentration
- Housing & meal stipend of US$500/month for 15 months in Vietnam
- Settlement stipend of US$250
- One round trip airfare to HCMC
- Visa application for maximum of 2 years
- Medical insurance for maximum of 2 years
- A cultural briefing trip during the Orientation period
- Attend an Alumni engagement event, and series of policy seminars, workshops at Fulbright.
Applicants from Laos also have the chance to apply for an elective course held by the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Harvard University (USA).
The MUSP-MPP program are looking for policymakers, politicians, and government officials from Laos PDR who have a bachelor’s degree and at least two (02) years’ experience of working full time.
Admitted students are required to attend full-time classes at the Ho Chi Minh City campus of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (Fulbright University Vietnam) for a Master degree in Public Policy – Policy Analysis concentration.
For more details about the full scholarships for government officials from Laos:
The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management has received a five-year grant of US$800,000 from the U.S. Department of State to launch Mekong-US Partnership- Master in Public Policy (MUSP-MPP) program. From now to 2026, MUSP MPP-PA brings 20 rising young public officials from Mekong countries, starting with Laos, to attend Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Fulbright University Vietnam for a Master degree in Public Policy – Policy Analysis. Graduates will obtain the Master in Public Policy degree issued by Fulbright University Vietnam.
The Fulbright School of Public Policy & Management is one of only 11 schools outside the United States, and the only one in South East Asia that have been fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). This is considered as the “gold standard” in public services education.
In addition to our core public policy expertise serving the Vietnamese government, the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management has demonstrated a strategic and long-standing track record and commitment to addressing key challenges of the Lower Mekong region through a variety of projects and initiatives such as Lower Mekong Public Policy Initiative (LMPPI) to bring policy makers from Lower Mekong countries together to promote mutual learning and trust, and stimulate dialogue on public policies; and the Natural Capital Management Program (NCMP), our first program initiative of 2021-2022 is to address critical issues and policy responses in the Mekong Delta region.
In 2010, during the graduation ceremony for Fulbright School’s first Master of Public Policy cohort, the late Prime Minister Phan Van Khai remarked that he himself had learned a lot, especially about the market economy, through discussions with a group of Harvard and Fulbright professors. Such knowledge, which he “successfully applied during his tenure, contributed to the development of the country”.
As the Prime Minister of Vietnam from 1997 to 2006, he was one of the technocratic leaders with the most substantial contributions during the country’s reforming and opening period. He also played an influential role in establishing the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, the predecessor of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Fulbright University Vietnam today.
His deep connection with the Fulbright School stemmed from a study trip to learn economic reform lessons from East Asian countries, organized by a group of Harvard professors who founded the School in the early 1990s. At the time, Mr. Khai was the Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers (the equivalent position to the current Deputy Prime Minister). He and other senior officials in charge of the economic sector in the state apparatus then learned methodically for the first time the core pillars of the market economy – from supply and demand, prices, exchange rates, to the import-export mechanism – concepts that were still extremely foreign to those who had just come out of the centrally planned economy.
Although the Doi Moi process started in 1986, “Vietnam’s development programs, guidelines and strategies were still very vague and exploratory” because “very few people understood the principles of economics,” recalled Professor Thomas Vallely, Director of the Vietnam Program at Harvard University, who organized the study trip that year.
The impression from this trip was so profound that later on, Mr. Khai became an avid advocate for the idea of a training program in applied economics for Vietnamese leaders and officials taught by Harvard professors, at a time when the relations between the two countries still had not fully normalized.
That was because Mr. Khai, along with other visionary Vietnamese leaders at that time, understood that more than ever, the country needed leaders with knowledge and a market economy mindset in order to successfully lead the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy.
Later, Dr. Jonathan Pincus, Director of FETP from 2008 to 2013 noted that FETP “was an excellent idea born at the right time”.
“A factor that shaped the Fulbright School in its early days was the emergence of Asian economies and the aspiration of Vietnamese leaders to be a part of the historic movement where the economic center of the world shifted from West to East,” said Mr. Pincus.
Overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges from both sides, eventually, Ho Chi Minh City, which had been considered a “laboratory” for innovative ideas in the early Doi Moi period, was chosen to be home to a Harvard training program. In January 1995, the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) was officially established, only half a year before Vietnam and the United States normalized diplomatic relations.
Foreseeing Vietnam’s path of reformation
When the Fulbright School was established, the founders faced different choices and they made strategic decisions that set Fulbright apart from any other economic or political training program in Vietnam even later on. It was a decision to not target central-level officials like the typical approach, but to focus on modern economic knowledge and improving management capacity for local government officials instead.
“In the early 90s of the last century, access to modern economic management knowledge was a luxury for local officials,” explained Mr. Vallely.
This decision of the Fulbright founders also came from keen observations of Vietnam’s reform trajectory when Mr. Vallely and his partner, Professor Dwight Perkins, Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, visited Vietnam and did a survey here in 1989. They found that Vietnam’s crucial national economic reform was largely driven by local reformations, which were later often described as a journey to “tear down” the old mechanism from the bottom up.
“These ‘jumping the fence’ actions, such as the discreet ‘agricultural land allocation’ movements in localities on the verge of renovation were meant to ‘emancipate’ production and business activities that have been suppressed for too long in the old mechanism. These reforms were successful because they precisely hit local pressure points. When central-level leaders observed that these experiments succeeded locally, they felt confident and bold enough to enact them into national policies,” Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Director of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, explains.
According to Dr. Tu Anh, FETP’s decision to focus on training local officials, therefore, showed ‘a deep understanding of the reform trajectory in Vietnam’ and such incredible ‘foresight’ that even to this day, he still feels truly fascinated and grateful about.
As a result of that strategic decision, a community of more than 1500 alumni from 62 out of 63 provinces in Vietnam has become an invaluable asset of FSPPM today. They have contributed to forming an excellent class of officials and civil servants of Vietnam in the Doi Moi era, pioneers who created positive change in their own communities.
Mr. Seth Winnick, U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, shared a story with Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh which happened more than 10 years ago. Whenever he went to localities in Vietnam and met Fulbright alumni, he could recognize them almost immediately by their distinct expression of the “Fulbright DNA”. He even coined the term “FETP Index” – a province with a high index means there are many FETP alumni working there and they are definitely at the forefront of innovation and reform in Vietnam.
The outstanding contributions of FETP alumni didn’t just take place locally. Many people, after serving in the leadership role of a particular province or department, have been promoted to the Central Government to lead the planning and implementing of important policies at the national level.
Global knowledge – local action
When it first started, FETP did exactly what was “requested” by the Government of Vietnam at that time, which was to impart the most up-to-date knowledge on market economy to state officials, in accordance with the context of the country.
“We then taught neoclassical economics courses the way you would at Harvard, with the Harvard Kennedy School’s curriculum being translated into Vietnamese in a way that was easy to understand,” recounted Mr. Thomas Vallely.
Mr. Cao Van Trong, former Chairman of Ben Tre province was one of the first students of FETP. Before entering in the program, he had already obtained a bachelor’s degree in industrial economics from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics. However, a year at FETP for him was an entire journey of “reconstruction”, from his knowledge to vision and thinking.
“We learned very new knowledge about micro- and macro-economics, about the economy management tools, especially the two very important tools in the market economy: fiscal and monetary policies. But the most significant thing that I learned from Fulbright is the approach and mindset that dissects an issue from many different angles. That is a timeless value,” said Mr. Trong.
Taking it a step further, when FETP has built trust with the society and with the government system, the lecturers were able to boldly put real Vietnamese practices at the heart of the training program. Harvard’s famous “case study” method was modified by the lecturers to suit the Vietnamese context, which Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh often likened to the journey of “Vietnamizing global knowledge”.
2008 marked a historic milestone for FETP when it changed from a 1-year applied economics training program to a 2-year master’s degree program in public policy – the first Master in Public Policy program in Vietnam. Transcending the framework of a traditional economic training program, the School had begun to venture into the “sensitive” but increasingly urgent issue in Vietnam: public policy, public management, and public administration.
That was because, as explained by Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, after more than 20 years of renovation and integration into the global economy, Vietnam had entered a period when the old driving forces of growth had gradually become outdated and required the apparatus to introduce drastic reforms, especially in terms of institutions. The decisions were no longer simply to “emancipate” from the old mechanism as before, these reforms must be relevant to the vivid, creative, and multi-dimensional realities in the drastically changing context of Vietnam and the world.
In order to solve these increasingly complex policy problems, leaders and executives needed to be equipped with new knowledge and mindsets. Therefore, Fulbright School’s faculty members have made constant efforts to create new knowledge that caters to the needs of the time. There are Fulbright “specialty” subjects such as Regional and Local Development, Public Investment Appraisal, Law and Public Policy… Every lesson at the Fulbright School has now turned into lively discussions about practical problems facing Vietnam.
From environmental and energy policy for the Mekong Delta region, to the strategy to promote infrastructure development projects following the public-private partnership (PPP) model, or even the strategy to build Thu Duc into a smart city, each graduation thesis of Fulbright students has been very practical policy analysis that they can continue to pursue after returning to their daily work.
According to a veteran Vietnamese diplomat, it is the journey of engaging in the center of socio-economic development of Vietnam over the past 25 years, reflected in the constant efforts to update the curriculum to accommodate the needs of the community and provide the country with high-quality human resources has helped “Fulbright to become the only international educational exchange program that still continues to reach new heights”.
While other projects came to an end, FETP has now become the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), one of the first 10 public policy schools in Asia and the first in Southeast Asia to achieve accreditation from NASPAA – the “golden standard” of public policy, public management, and public administration schools around the world.
When they put down the first bricks to begin the construction of a humble school, located in a small alley on Vo Thi Sau Street, the founders of FETP could not have expected that it would go this far. Right now, Fulbright is not only “the most important educational legacy in the Vietnam-US relations”, but also an “invaluable intellectual property” of Vietnam.
Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (Fulbright University Vietnam) has opened the applications for Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024).
(Read the full announcement HERE)
The MPP2024 program will provide scholarship packages for various groups of applicants granted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.
For Policy Analysis concentration:
Full scholarship (equivalent to about VND 526 million/student) granted to:
- Policy consultants and policymakers from public areas; lecturers and research fellows from public universities and organizations; or distinction graduates from universities inside and outside Vietnam.
- Policy consultants and policymakers from public areas of Laos (applicants of Mekong-US Partnership – Master in Public Policy (MUSP-MPP) program).
Partial 50% scholarship (equivalent to about VND 263 million) granted to: Managers and executives from non-profit organizations, social organizations, and enterprises; lecturers and research fellows from private or international universities and organizations.
For Leadership & Management concentration:
Partial scholarships (40% tuition fees) are granted to admitted students to complete required credits. The remaining payable amount (equivalent to VND 252 million) accounts for 60% tuition fees.
Prospective students are middle and senior managers, managers in government agencies, enterprises, non-profit organizations and NGOs.
Scholarship for both concentrations is inclusive of tuition fee and fees for field trip (if any) and exclusive of lodging, course materials, extracurricular activities, Harvard course, and personal expenses.
Excellent candidates with financial constraints, from public sector or remote areas, or female candidates will be considered for financial aid.
This year, the Fulbright school will resume organizing the entrance examination for student selection with Quantitative skill and English tests for applicants of the Policy Analysis concentration after one-year hiatus caused by Covid-19. Applicants of the Leadership & Management concentration will be exempted from the tests.
For online application, please click HERE.
For details about MPP2024 admissions, please click HERE.
- July 24, 2022 for applicants from Laos under MUSP-MPP program.
- August 4, 2022 for other applicants.
Built upon the heritage of Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, an initiative by Vietnam Program, Harvard University, Master in Public Policy (MPP) by FUV is designed to provide high-quality manpower for policy-making institutions and governmental bodies, NGOs, NPOs, private enterprises, research universities and institutions.
MPP program is directly offered and administered by Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), the first academic unit under Fulbright University Vietnam. FSPPM pioneers in developing and educating public policy programs with a view to advocating for a transformative public policy and management in Vietnam and the region – through its commitment toward excellence in teaching, research and civic engagement.
In July 2019, FSPPM is the first public policy school in Southeast Asia to be accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA, U.S.). Accreditation from the internationally prestigious network in public policy programs is a significant milestone projecting the school towards regional and international standards. Achieving the accreditation is a testament to the quality of education offered at FSPPM in par with other international programs.
FOR ADMISSION INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
The Admissions Office
Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management – Fulbright University Vietnam
105 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City
On March 18, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh welcomed Mr. Thomas Vallely, Chairman of Fulbright University Vietnam’s Governing Board and Director of the Vietnam Program at Harvard University, and senior faculty from Fulbright University Vietnam.
The Government of Vietnam attaches importance to strengthening economic and development policy dialogue and consultation with the world’s leading research institutions, said Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during the reception for Mr. Thomas Vallely.
The Prime Minister spoke highly of Mr. Vallely’s initiative to establish the Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP) – a platform for discussing socio-economic development issues in Vietnam.
He suggested the VELP should focus discussions on such topics as green growth, sustainable energy development, institutional building, innovation, and public-private partnership in order to put forward recommendations to the Government.
For his part, Mr. Vallely highly valued Vietnam’s groundbreaking commitments at the COP26, affirming his strong support for Vietnam in climate change adaptation and acceleration of green growth.
Vallely founded the Harvard Vietnam Program in 1989 and established the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP)in Ho Chi Minh City in 1994. FETP was later developed into Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, the first academic unit of Fulbright University Vietnam.
He leveraged the Vietnam Program’s research to engage in a candid and constructively critical dialogue with the Vietnamese government about the strategic challenges confronting the country.
Under his leadership, the Fulbright school emerged as a center of excellence in public policy research and teaching and a pioneer in the development of new modes of institutional governance in Vietnam.
Fulbright University Vietnam is delighted to announce the publication of the second issue of the Fulbright Review of Economics and Policy (FREP), an international journal published on the platform of Emerald Publishing. Link to the journal’s inaugural issue can be found here. The second issue is a collection of the best papers selected from the FREP virtual workshop held on September 15, 2021 on the theme of “Policy responses for sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery.”
As we all know, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is more than just a global health crisis. Besides having already claimed millions of lives (WHO, 2021), it has had multi-dimensional impacts on the economy and society that have uncovered serious vulnerabilities in our national and international systems and have shown how sensitive we are to severe natural shocks and diseases (OECD, 2020).
During this unprecedented time, governments worldwide have struggled to balance the goal of saving lives with that of keeping the economy open. Fiscal and monetary stimulus programs have been introduced to ease the economic depression and to relieve the burden on people, especially disadvantaged populations. At the heart of the pandemic responses are governments around the world, which have proven their vital role in mitigating the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19.
Even though the pandemic is far from over, it is about time we reflect on several lessons and experiences that would help us move forward into the future. Calls for resilient and sustainable recovery have arisen with the clamor to “Build Back Better,” which urges resilient, inclusive and environment-friendly recovery post-disaster (Hallegatte, Rentschler, &Walsh, 2018). In this sense, governments’ post-pandemic policies and actions should target more than just economic revitalization but the other aspects of public governance, public service delivery, green development and social equality and justice.
In the FREP virtual workshop on “Policy responses for sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery,” Fulbright University Vietnam was able to gather many speakers and participants from across the globe to present and lead insightful discussions on policy responses to issues on equitable development, economic or fiscal resilience, climate change, sustainable climate finance, single-parent families, mental health education, community-based and -driven approaches during the lockdowns and early periods of the pandemic and their interlinkages for a sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery path. The speakers presented their insightful analyses of the COVID-19’s significant impact on policies: how different governments responded to the pandemic would signify the route to recovery.
FREP is Emerald Publishing’s new journal in the fields of economics and public policy. FREP is a peer-reviewed, open-access international scientific research journal that aims to promote publications that employ rigorous analytical tools and advocate for evidence-based policy. The journal is hosted by the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) and sponsored by FUV.
Huynh Trung Dung sees his twelve-year-and-counting journey with Public Policy as an ordinary path simply because it occurs naturally to him. But the extraordinary lies in the persistent pursuit towards this one single field where he finds his best self.
Public Policy is everything around us
From a very young age, Huynh Trung Dung already knew that he wanted to contribute to the common good of society. From his perspective, the public sector had more room for construction and direction in comparison to the private sector, and that is where he decided to work for the public good.
“Public Policy is everything around us. It is in every single breath we take, whether we stay inside or we go outdoors, we are all bounded by Public Policy,” Dung exclaimed.
There are social aspects that can only be regulated and resolved by state policies, especially those related to disadvantaged groups – the community of people with special circumstances, with limited rights and limited access to necessities. To Dung, there are three factors to evaluate the effectiveness of a public policy: fairness, equality, and longevity.
“Fairness in resources. For example, Ho Chi Minh City generates more than 20% of GDP, more than 25% of the state budget so it should receive adequate resources, but in reality, the city only retains 18% of revenue, while the remaining 82% goes directly to the state budget. Inequality here affects the efficiency of budget use, meaning that if Ho Chi Minh City keeps more, it will generate more revenue for the whole country from that fund.
“Equal access to rights among groups in society, regardless of financial condition, gender, religion, and other aspects.
“And finally the long-term calculation. Policy enacted in the present time needs to be considered with regard to its impact in the future. For example, if a policy aims to solve an economic problem now but causes harm to the environment, it is unacceptable because then future generations will have to bear the consequences.”
Education – a safe environment
Huynh Trung Dung realizes his passion with a Bachelor’s degree in foreign trade and diplomacy in Vietnam. Right after graduation, he spent eight years working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of External Relations of Ho Chi Minh City. During that time, he completed his master’s degree at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
“Singapore shares many similarities with Vietnam from geography, politics to culture and diplomatic relations. The studies I’ve done there were directly applied to my work in the public sector at the time“, he contended.
As a person who always put practicality and efficiency first, his intention to contribute to the public sector when he returned to Vietnam did not go as he expected. With a yearning for growth and development, not only for the common good but also for himself, Huynh Trung Dung decided to take a leap of faith and turn to education – a place “suitable for a calm persona, not too competitive”, where he could make the best use of what he has learned and experienced in a foreign environment.
Huynh Trung Dung’s educational career started at RMIT University Vietnam, then he joined the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP). When he was about to complete his Ph.D. and return home, he was happy to join YSEALI Academy as a Lead Faculty for Public Policy and lecture at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), Fulbright University Vietnam. This place, according to him, is the best resemblance to his pursued public policy – “a big umbrella” covering many fields to solve interdisciplinary and global issues.
At YSEALI Academy, he serves as a Lead Faculty for Public Policy. In this position, his responsibilities are not confined to the teaching duties, but rather, expand to strategic planning, proposing new topics, and inviting, connecting lecturers and experts from all across the world.
The diversity of students, as well as guest speakers, poses some challenges for Dung while also presents him with interesting experiences. The challenge was that he had to design an intensive program suitable for students in 11 Southeast Asian countries (including Timor-Leste) and from a variety of professions. It is also interesting because it is the first program in Southeast Asia to discuss public policy at a regional and interdisciplinary scale for young leaders in the region. All the while, being in a coordinating lead position also gives him opportunities to simultaneously learn more about fields that are not his specialty.
“Every country has its own solution for public problems, but there are many similarities. YSEALI Academy seminar is an opportunity for young people from different countries to learn from each other from both those similarities and differences. An avid example in the Public Policy seminar on Energy Economics and Policy is that Vietnam’s problem is coal power, while in Laos, Cambodia, it is hydroelectricity and in Singapore, it is solar energy, but we all share a few things in common: efficiency issues and the impact of energy use on different groups in society” – Mr. Dung reflected on the first Public Policy seminar at YSEALI Academy. This is practical as we join hands to discuss global issues under policy approaches from many countries and different professions, to work together to do something useful for today and for the next generation, the future.
Practical interdisciplinary over pure academia
For Huynh Trung Dung, Public Policy must go hand-in-hand with practice. When deciding to continue studying for a Ph.D., among many options, he chose Pardee RAND Graduate School, USA. Unlike the majority of graduate schools in the U.S., Pardee RAND School under RAND Corporation is a leading American non-profit think tank organization, so its program is built on real projects. Where students work directly with experts.
During his research at RAND, he participated in many policy analysis projects in various fields of security, international relations, and healthcare. Research and analysis projects at RAND are mostly absorbed and applied by policymakers.
While teaching at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management as well as the YSEALI Academy, he fosters an environment where students are encouraged to debate, apply, and implement real-world projects. “When I have concerns in my head and we discuss facts together, then I really learn many things,” Dung shared.
Accompanying young people from many different fields yet all share the same interest and desire to contribute to society via public policy, Huynh Trung Dung feels inspired and energized every day. Especially in the Public Policy seminar at YSEALI Academy, he was impressed with the cooperative spirit of fellows from all over the region. “There are students who are highly specialized in their field but still were open to learn from the sharing of other fellows from different fields and in return, they also bring their knowledge to share with the whole team. While working in groups, the young leaders coordinate with each other very smoothly and openly, aiming towards the most multi-dimensional and practical solution” – Huynh Trung Dung excited.
He hopes to see more young people who are dynamic, creative, and interested in the common good participate in public policy seminars at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management and YSEALI Academy, where students are to freely explore the academic world while also can immerse in practical applications, where they can find their community and join hands to tackle the world’s interdisciplinary problems.
Fulbright University Vietnam has received a five-year grant of US$800,000 from the U.S. Department of State to launch Mekong-US Partnership – Master in Public Policy (MUSP-MPP) program. From now to 2026, MUSP-MPP brings 20 rising young public officials from Mekong countries, starting with Laos, to attend Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Fulbright University Vietnam for a Master degree in Public Policy – Policy Analysis. The program will provide skills to increase local capacity while enhancing trust and building cooperative relationships among the participating countries and young public sector professionals.
The MUSP-MPP will be open to three cohorts from Laos with six (06) fellows in the first year, and seven (07) fellows in subsequent year. A wide range of carefully curated activities will occur over a 15-month period commencing on October 2022. At the end of the 5 years, 20 participants will have obtained the Master Degree in Public Policy.
Participants will be trained as leaders for their countries in areas of Mekong interest using the same pedagogical tools used in American universities. In addition to language skill proficiency, participants will be prioritized for selection based on future leadership potential, including potential to lead on key cross-cutting Mekong sub-regional policy issues.
The U. S. Department of State through participating country Embassies will be actively engaged in selecting the most promising public officials . Through classes, seminars, and cultural activities, these candidates will be exposed to modern policy frameworks and approaches inspired by top institutions in the US. This program is a part of efforts to reinforce trust between Lower Mekong countries and the United States to ensure regional unity and stability.
The Fulbright School of Public Policy & Management (FSPPM) is one of only eleven schools outside the United States, and the only one in South East Asia that have been fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). This is considered as the “gold standard” in public services education.
Recently, Fulbright University Vietnam has received a five-year programmatic grant of US$1 million from two companies, Galaxy Studio and Dragon Capital to launch “Natural Capital Management” Program (NCMP) . For the first annual topic of the 5-year plan, the gift will propel FSPPM to address critical issues and policy responses in the Mekong River Delta region. Specifically, Fulbright and FSPPM will advance their teaching, and research on the following key priorities: agriculture transformation, energy, air pollution and public health, climate change, flooding, regional infrastructure, and transboundary cooperation. The MUSP-MPP blends perfectly with the NCMP and will create synergy to overcome the challenge of transboundary cooperation.
Nguyen Chinh Luan, a student of Master in Public Policy Class of 2022 (MPP2022) at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), Fulbright University Vietnam, is a Franciscan friar. Having a bachelor’s degree in economics, Chinh Luan chose to leave mainstream society, stepping into the realm of faith and dedicating his life to serving others. At the Fulbright School, he got exposed to advanced management and leadership knowledge in order to realize his aspirations in the journey of service.
After graduating from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics in 2004, Nguyen Chinh Luan took the road less traveled. Instead of settling down in a professional career like his peers, he decided to enter a Catholic religious congregation. He initially joined the Vietnamese Province of Jesuits (the Society of Jesus), a religious congregation of the Catholic Church, then continued in Jesuit religious formation for nearly four years.
Later, he transferred to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual – a branch of the Franciscans who were founded by Saint Francis of Assisi (Francesco d’Assisi) in 1209. Their mission is to live among the poor, relying on common resources to serve them. Dedicating himself totally to God, Friar Nguyen Chinh Luan professed simple and solemn vows, spending years discerning more deeply the ways of God. He studied Philosophy for three years and Theology for four years at the Franciscan Theological Seminary in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.
After equipping himself in pastoral theology, Friar Luan began to connect with people in the real world. He went to Thai Binh, a province in Northern Vietnam, where he worked at a friary located next to Van Mon Leprosy-Dermatology Hospital in the Vu Van Commune of Vu Thu District. French priests built this locale as a leprosarium more than 100 years ago. For a year, Friar Luan went to the hospital every day to visit elderly Hansen’s Disease patients. Friar Luan and his religious brothers also opened a facility at the friary to care for children of the commune with Down’s Syndrome. He then went to the U.S. to participate in the Provincial Chapter of Saint Joseph of Cupertino Province of California and begin an apostolic assignment in a parish there.
After 15 years of following God’s teachings in service to the less fortunate, Luan realized that he needed to enrich his knowledge about his profession and learn new skills to cope in this volatile world. At the encouragement of his religious superiors, he decided to pursue a master’s degree. In a conversation with one of the Californian friars who is an alumnus of Harvard University, Luan became aware of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, which was originally a partnership between the HCMC University of Economics and the Harvard Kennedy School.
“As part of my religious vocation, I had taken care of the poor, orphans, people with HIV, people with leprosy…; everything was done with heartfelt intent. I served them just because I loved them in the spirit of the Gospel. Nonetheless, my management skills were still quite limited. I realized that love without knowledge is a kind of blindness and knowledge without love an emptiness. So I decided to pursue further education in order to better serve the poor as I always desired to do,” he recalled. Friar Luan then applied for the Master in Public Policy program’s Leadership & Management concentration at FSPPM and became a student of the school in 2020.
Realizing the spirit of service
For over two decades, FSPPM has successfully recruited a student base that is diverse in geographical location, expertise, background and work experience, coming from various public, private and social organizations. Luan regards it as a chance for him to meet all kinds of Vietnamese professionals and learn from them. Although the academic pressure at FSPPM is quite intense, no one is left behind.
“At the convocation ceremony of my class, someone said in their speech: “No one will ever be left behind.” Back then, I did not fully understand what they meant. After more than one year studying here, I find it quite accurate. When I saw teaching assistants who were willing to stay up all night to help students with assignments, or teachers and other classmates who were there to help whenever I needed, I really understood that no one would ever be left behind,” Friar Luan said.
To Friar Luan, serving the poor is his purpose of life. Therefore, it is only natural for him to feel deeply connected with the mission of FSPPM, the commitment to public service. Fulbright’s educational environment is where the professors inspire students with the spirit of service and provide them with useful tools to convert their good intentions into good deeds for the community and the country.
“When I first came to Fulbright, I had a vision but it was not clear. Learning from the professors here, I feel inspired and encouraged, and I believe I can gradually implement my plans of service to the community,” he said.
Friar Luan highly appreciated the faculty members at Fulbright, among them Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dean of FSPPM, and other senior lecturers like Dang Van Thanh, Chau Van Thanh, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Le Thai Ha, Nguyen Quy Tam and Huynh The Du.
“Their knowledge is both broad and deep, and so are their hearts, to make their visions come true. I think Fulbright is like a school of old Confucianists in which the professors are truly patriotic Confucians. I can feel their love and their desire to serve the country, and their love is gratified by their contributions to not only education but also to the public policy field,” he commented.
As a Franciscan, Luan deeply understands what it is like to live in poverty. He spent many years living with the poor, the sick and the marginalized. That makes him especially empathetic to their sufferings, their aspirations, and their needs for a better life. He knows that he needs to serve them better with the help of knowledge and skills. At Fulbright, he studies leadership, financial management, budget management and other public administration courses that will help policymakers come up with the best decisions and solutions.
“What I have learned at Fulbright over the last year has changed the way I think and also the way I live. The curriculum provides a wide range of knowledge about the processes of policymaking: how a policy is issued, implemented and supervised. From that macro perspective, students can apply what they learn in order to solve specific problems in their organizations. This knowledge is very useful because it not only helps one navigate the activities of one’s organization, but also steer that organization in a broader capacity, to serve the society we live in,” he commented.
Looking back at his experience at Fulbright, Luan also praised the school for training students to perform well under pressure and to know how to learn on their own.
“Put under high pressures at Fulbright, students learn to withstand any obstacles they face when they go back to work in their respective organizations. They become stronger, more resilient and more determined to perform better at work,” he said.
After finishing his master’s degree in public policy, Luan plans to return to northern Vietnam and build other orphanages and daycare centers for children with Down’s Syndrome. He also plans to expand the daycare system in his order’s friary in Thai Binh Province.
“I want to open more facilities for orphans and for underprivileged people in other provinces. Previously, we just ran the orphanage the way we would run a family. Now that I have acquired leadership and management skills, I can see how things can be better organized,” he said.
He also wants to open more medical clinics for the poor and the elderly. As he sees the need for low cost healthcare services for those who cannot afford medical bills, he sets sight to build a clinic in the friary of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Thai Binh province in the near future.
“People in the neighborhood work primarily in agriculture, so the clinic would mostly treat farmers, and elderly people with musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory diseases and common infections like flu and digestive diseases,” he said.
Last weekend, Friar Nguyen Chinh Luan was ordained to the priesthood. The ordination came as he just finished the MPP program at Fulbright and started working on his thesis. Both events mark the end of his basic spiritual and academic training and the beginning of an apprenticeship to his lifelong calling: to love and to serve.
Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dean of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), Fulbright University Vietnam, was recently honored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for his contributions to the training, research, and consultancy of economic policies over the past years.
On November 9, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Quang Minh bestowed the medal “For the Cause of Vietnam’s Diplomacy” on Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh at the MOFA headquarters in Hanoi. Assistant Minister Vu Quang Minh noted that the medal represented the recognition and appreciation of Dr. Tu Anh’s significant contributions to the country’s foreign affairs in general and economic diplomacy in particular. Specifically, Dr. Tu Anh actively engaged in the training, research, and consultancy of economic policies, enhancing the country’s global integration and economic development.
Assistant Minister Vu Quang Minh said the Ministry wished to see Dr. Tu Anh and his colleagues – economists and scholars, continue to support the Ministry as well as other Vietnamese diplomatic agencies around the world to promote policy research and consultancy in international economics, development economics and global economic integration.
At the ceremony, Dr. Tu Anh thanked the Ministry for the medal and emphasized it was a great honor in his professional career. “This medal recognizes the contribution of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, the predecessor of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, and the Vietnam Program at Harvard for closely working with the Vietnamese government and MOFA to successfully organizing series of Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP). From the beginning, VELP was set to be a formal forum for Vietnam’s predominant policymakers to exchange thoughts and ideas with the world’s leading scholars and experts,” he said.
Dr. Tu Anh pledged that he and FSPPM would enhance their efforts to cooperate effectively with MOFA’s agencies for the development of Vietnam’s diplomacy in general and economic diplomacy in particular, contributing to the implementation of socioeconomic recovery and development goals and enhancing the country’s sustainable growth.
Fulbright University Vietnam is delighted to announce the publication of the inaugural issue of Fulbright Review of Economics and Policy (FREP), an international journal published on the platform of Emerald Publishing. Link to the journal’s inaugural issue can be found at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/issn/2635-0173/vol/1/iss/1.
FREP is a peer-reviewed, open-access international scientific research journal, hosted by Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) at Fulbright University Vietnam and sponsored by FUV. The journal aims to promote publications that employ rigorous analytical tools and advocate for evidence-based policy.
It has been almost two years in the making and was challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the strong collaboration and trust among the editorial board, advisory team and contributors have created a thought-provoking journal.
With an editorial board and an advisory team of leading and senior professors in various economics and public policy disciplines at renowned universities worldwide, FREP publishes not only rigorously peer-reviewed original scholarly articles but also other types of research, such as practitioner papers, perspectives and review articles, on a semiannual basis.
The inaugural issue of FREP presents a diverse selection of pertinent articles from established scholars and young academics. The journal not only focuses on economic issues but also covers a broad range of policy areas in social development, governance and public administration of interest to readers –international agencies, academics, researchers, policy professionals, policymakers and practitioners, local communities and nongovernmental organizations. This diversity in policy themes is reflected in the first issue.
Through a handful of highly selected articles covering a wide range of topics and approaches, this inaugural issue highlights different subjects regarding emerging socioeconomic matters, spanning from developed countries in Europe to the developing world in Asia. As such, the editorial board believe that this first issue is suitable for readers with a wide range of interests in contemporary policy issues.
The first group of articles provides insightful discussions of various economic issues. Dwight Perkins, the Harold Hitchings Burbank Research Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, examines the political factors behind the significant variation of per capita gross domestic product of Southeast Asian countries, which ranges from less than US$5,000 to more than US$97,000. The author considers a number of factors, such as wars, extreme politics, political instability and kleptocratic governments and leaders, and how they affect the development of various countries within the region. The author concludes that countries that avoided political extremes have the highest per-capita incomes today.
Cuong Le-Van, an Emeritus Professor at Paris School of Economics, and his coauthor, Nguyen To-The, a lecturer at VNU University of Economics and Business, Vietnam National University, explain how the wage bonus system affects an economy. They show that a wage bonus scheme enhances labor productivity. Furthermore, the results reveal that improved production may cause increasing returns through the wage bonus externality effect, and when the incentive mechanism is sufficiently strong, the economy may experience optimal paths of physical capital without limit.
David Dapice (who was an economics professor at Tufts University from 1973 to 2017 and continues to work as the Vietnam Program senior economist at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) discusses why Vietnam was recently charged as a currency manipulator by the United States (US), and why those charges are less than conclusive. He argues that the Vietnamese dong (VND) has been kept stable in real terms against the dollar since 2015 and attributes the sharp improvement in Vietnam’s bilateral and overall trade balance to increases in China’s labor costs as well as trade frictions between the US and China. He concludes that the US’s recent decision not to impose punitive tariffs on Vietnam’s exports may reflect Vietnam’s serious and effective negotiation in addition to the country’s significant value in a regional context to the US.
Also looking at a critical issue in Vietnam, Minh Ha-Duong, research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Hoai-Son Nguyen, National Economics University (Hanoi, Vietnam), estimate the reduction of electricity poverty in Vietnam. They regard human development as also needing subjective measurements to indicate well-being. Using data from national household surveys spanning 2008 to 2018, the authors employ a self-reported satisfaction indicator to complement objective indicators. The authors find a reduction in inequality in electricity use among Vietnamese households during the investigation period.
Hoang Van Khieu, a young academic from Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Germany, who recently joins Fulbright University Vietnam as a Faculty member in Economics, uncovers the relationships between budget deficits, money growth and inflation in Vietnam over the period 1995–2012, a period during which inflation skyrocketed in the country. Using a structural vector autoregressive model of five endogenous variables, the author shows that positive shocks to money growth led to a rise in inflation, and that budget deficits had no significant effects on money growth and, therefore, inflation. The results thus support the hypothesis that fiscal and monetary policies were relatively independent.
The second group of articles focuses on emerging social issues. Colin Williams, a professor in the Management School at the University of Sheffield, and his colleague at Sheffield, Jan Windebank, a professor in the School of Languages and Cultures, evaluate contrasting policy approaches to tackle self-employment in the informal sector in Europe. The authors use data reported from the special Eurobarometer survey 92.1 conducted in 2019 across 28 European countries that included more than 27,565 interviews. Based on probit regression analysis, the authors reveal that the likelihood of participation in informal self-employment is significantly related to the level of vertical and horizontal trust.
Martin Powell, a professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, explores the extent to which the long debate in England over the funding of long-term care has involved learning from abroad. The author documents that the reports and cited studies in this field tend to focus on a handful of countries, such as Germany, Japan and Scotland, and most of the studies have few details about settings. More importantly, only a few studies provide clear policy analysis and recommendations for policy changes.
The second journal issue, expected to be published later this year, will focus on policy responses for a sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery.