A Journey of Compassion and Insight: Reflecting on a Trip to Tijuana

Embarking on a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, with Dr. Sabith Khan as an MPPA student was a culmination of anticipation and eagerness, fueled by a yearning to delve into real-world issues and experiences. Having missed out on a previous opportunity due to lacking a passport, I was determined to seize this chance to explore and learn. Little did I know, the journey would profoundly expand my perspectives on the importance of public policies and fuel a desire for meaningful change in an area I knew little about.

Our first stop was at Xquenda Lab at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, an open space for citizen science focused on the indigenous and migrant populations. Directed by Maximino Matus Ruiz and his team, the lab’s dedication to preserving indigenous languages through digitization was inspiring. Witnessing student research projects and indulging in sopes while overlooking the Mexican Pacific Coast fostered a sense of appreciation for educational initiatives driving social change.

Venturing further, our next stop was at Casa del Migrante, a sanctuary for migrants fleeing violence and seeking refuge. Run by dedicated social workers and volunteers, the facility offered essential services and support to individuals navigating the complexities of migration. Learning about the arduous journey migrants face, coupled with the bureaucratic hurdles of asylum-seeking, underscored the urgent need for policy reform and humanitarian intervention at all levels of the government. The facility can hold up to 200 people for up to 60 days. This conflicts with the 6 to 7 month current wait time for a hearing, so in the interim they help people build lives in Tijuana by securing employment, help to find housing, offer certification programs, and enroll children in school and provide childcare. The facility is funded by the Catholic Church, donations, and fundraising activities, and ran by staff and volunteers.

As a student of public policy and administration, the visit to Casa del Migrante was eye-opening. It shed light on the multifaceted nature of social issues and the imperative for compassionate, multi-dimensional solutions. The passion and dedication of the staff resonated deeply, reaffirming the power of empathy and advocacy in addressing systemic injustices.

Leaving Casa del Migrante, I was filled with a sense of urgency and purpose. The experience really prioritized the need to effect change and advocate for marginalized communities. It reinforced the importance of amplifying voices that are often silenced and the need for centering lived experiences and real stories in policy discourse.2 3 4 Picture1


Our journey concluded with a bittersweet visit to Friendship Park / El Parque de la Amistad in Playa de Tijuana, a binational park at the US -Mexico border. The park was inaugurated on Aug 18, 1971 by First Lady Pat Nixon. There were no border barriers of any kind at Friendship Park for generations. I couldn’t find the exact year that changed, but even after walls were built in 2011 San Diego Border Patrol officials still opened the park for limited hours each weekend through the slats of the wall. Over more recent years, this public access for US residents was restricted and in February of 2020, the park completely closed on the US side. Walking amidst murals and remnants of shared histories, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of missed opportunities for unity and solidarity. We did learn that there is a concentrated effort to reopen the park, and I sincerely hope there are ways for us as students to support it.

In closing, I extend heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Khan for his unwavering dedication to exposing students to diverse perspectives and social issues. His commitment to fostering experiential learning and nurturing compassionate leaders is truly commendable. Here’s to the next adventure, may it also be fueled by empathy, advocacy, and a responsibility and commitment to meaningful change.



Guest post – How The MPPA Helped My Career In SEO and Digital Marketing – Nicolai Andersen

In this article, I will highlight the surprisingly many ways that the MPPA program has contributed to the advancement of my career in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). I graduated with my MPPA degree from Cal Lutheran in 2021. Shortly after, I relocated to Norway. Having worked for years with digital marketing in the U.S., I secured a marketing position in Oslo, which required a master’s degree. I later established an SEO bureau in Oslo.

Many have wondered why a digital marketer would pursue a degree in public policy. Upon reflecting, I can think of countless ways this program has helped me become a better marketer as well as a more well-rounded, informed professional.

Global Perspective

The SEO bureau currently serves clients from several countries across three continents. For technical and design support, we frequently collaborate with international freelancers. In essence, the global perspective I acquired not only from the MPPA program but also through studying abroad has greatly assisted me in conducting business within an international environment. This perspective has proven invaluable in comprehending cultural nuances, understanding diverse audiences, and navigating the complexities of the global marketplace.



I acquired a large number of skills during my time at Cal Lutheran. Notably, my research, analytical, communication, and advocacy skills witnessed significant improvement. These skills are not only convenient but also necessary for a career in digital marketing and SEO. Analytical proficiency, for instance, is crucial when dissecting search data, researching algorithm changes, conducting keyword research, and presenting results to clients.

Advocacy projects were integral components of several courses, contributing significantly to my growth as a marketer. They provided valuable lessons on tailoring messages to diverse audiences and the ability to effectively market or advocate for any product or company.

Furthermore, the skills gained through the process of academic paper writing have substantially enhanced my expertise in content marketing. Blog articles, for instance, often play a key role in SEO. Given recent updates to search engine algorithms, there is a heightened focus on well- crafted, valuable written content.

Upon reflection, the MPPA program has emerged as a cornerstone in my professional journey in digital marketing. The diverse skill set acquired, ranging from ethical considerations to an understanding of how public policy influences business, has not only broadened my horizons. It has also been instrumental in shaping me into a more adept entrepreneur, digital marketer, and SEO specialist.

You can visit my website at – https://seotjenester.no/

How should we think about “development”?

I conceptualized a new course this term, to make up for the study abroad course that I could not offer. I ambitiously called it “understanding development,” keeping in mind the idea that we would discuss what this term means and what we should do about it.

understanding development
source: medium.com

The reaction from students so far is pretty positive and I have an almost full class. The debates and discussions that arise are lively and encouraging. I am taking a critical perspective of the term, in the tradition of James C Scott or Dudley Seers. I am forcing the students to challenge their assumptions and ask some difficult (and seemingly strange) questions.

One student pointed out that the fact that life expectancy for African-American men in NY City can be as short as someone living in Afghanistan “shocking.” This is unfortunately true, and we can see several examples of “underdevelopment”, in the classical sense in our own neighborhoods.

During my drive to the pharmacy this morning, I heard about the eviction of the homeless in Echo Park, in LA. The fact that hundreds of homeless people are being evicted, with no real solution in place is appalling. However, when one thinks about this in the context of existing social order and what we are willing to tolerate or not, things start to make sense. Of course, in every society, different groups have different priorities and usually, the priorities of the ruling classes dominate.

One could look at this cynically and argue that we are witnessing nothing but the impacts of the economic way of thinking, meaning, our privileging of economic growth over other factors: social cohesion, justice, equality, etc. and that may be true. As Stephen Macekura points out in his book “The mismeasure of progress,” this question was posed by pioneers of the study of development such as Dudley Seers. Seers pointed out that we “measure what we value, we value what we measure. To envision the world anew requires new tools, but also a clear articulation of the ethical commitments and politics that give them force.” (p.10).

Macekura further points out that the very nature of statistical measures can be value-laden. For instance, do we consider the non-paid work of women at home as part of economic activity, if not; why? What about volunteer work?

Statistics have been part of the national self-definition process, as Macekura adds that

“Census data, moreover, often defined the boundaries of national belonging and social difference by enumerating who counted— literally— as members of the nation.”

In the current trend of ‘local economies’ and ‘national economies’, recovering after the covid pandemic, one is tempted to ask: what exactly are we talking about here? Does speaking of a ‘national economy’ mean the same thing when we talk about a highly organized and structured society like the US and another such as India, which has a huge informal economy? Is there equivalence in terms and concepts?


Macekura, S. 2020. The mismeasure of progress – Economic growth and its critics. Uni of Chicago Press.