The predecessor to the Schar School of Policy and Government, TIPP, was originally envisioned as a "think tank" staffed with faculty from multiple disciplines across the university to research policy issues. Today, Schar helps undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students navigate the complexities of policymaking and public administration.
Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government began on the Fairfax Campus and later moved to Mason Square Campus in the early 2000’s. Today’s Schar School came about as a result of a merger of two Mason academic units, The School of Public Policy (SPP) and the former College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)’ Department of Public and International Affairs, each established in 1990. The two combined in 2014, forming one school with the mission of training undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students to be leaders in government, policymaking, consulting, and analysis in the public sphere.
SPP began as The Institute for Public Policy (TIPP), established by former George Mason Graduate School Dean, Kingsley E. Haynes in 1990. Initially founded as a research institute for the study of policy issues, TIPP began serving the university in an older temporary building called the Pohick Module. In 1992, a Ph.D. program was established, and by 1994, TIPP created an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Economic Development and Technology in partnership with the Schools of Business Administration and Information Technology and Engineering. TIPP also developed programs with the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and CAS’ Economics, Public and International Affairs, and Communication departments. These partnerships showed TIPP’s commitment to going beyond the ordinary boundaries of a discipline to address the wide variety of policy concerns, such as public policy management, science and technology policy, health policy, and human resource policy.
TIPP incorporated economics, public administration, business, law, information technology, and the liberal arts, as well as uniquely American ideas, practices, and traditions into its curriculum. The program insisted that future American leaders will need a firm grounding in history, ethics, and world culture if they are to deal successfully with important national issues, such as budget, trade, and employment.
Over the next several years, TIPP partnered with the federal government and universities from around the world, particularly in South America and Asia, generating research funding in the defense, information technology, and e-commerce sectors. In 2000 TIPP became Mason’s School of Public Policy (SPP) and moved to the Finley Building. In SPP 2010 moved from Fairfax to the then-named Arlington Campus and housed in Arlington Original, the former Kann’s department store.
In 2014, the SPP and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Public and International Affairs merged, creating the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, offering comprehensive graduate and undergraduate education in public policy, public administration, international affairs, and political science. In 2016, the school was renamed the Schar School of Policy and Government following a $10 million donation from businessman and philanthropist Dwight Schar.
In addition to its academic offerings, in 2016 the Schar School began a partnership with the Washington Post to conduct polling in Virginia and nationwide. Today, Washington Post/ Schar School polling gives readers insight on issues ranging from national politics to local business and economics.
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