The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law is pleased to announce the release of the third module of mini-lectures in our Solving Public Policy Problems massive open online course (MOOC).
Case studies like this are instrumental to the curriculum for both CDDRL’s Leadership Academy for Development (LAD) and the Masters’ in International Policy (MIP). They address a wide range of issues in developing countries and are designed to encourage you to think critically about key decisions that have led to policy reforms. This video refers to the implementation segment of the Problem-Solving Framework (module 1.3).
Case Study: Gifford Pinchot and Sustainable Forest Management
The year was 1909, and Gifford Pinchot, Chief Forester of the United States, faced a terrible personal dilemma. He had discovered a pattern of corruption in the sale of public lands to developers and other private interests. But the new president, William Howard Taft, depended on support from western Republicans and had placed a gag order on the whole affair. Pinchot was outraged at this evidence of corruption reaching the White House, but he wanted to give Taft a fair hearing. The new president had, after all, vowed to support conservation and strong control over federal lands. Taft invited Pinchot to the White House, where he alternately implored Pinchot not to go public with the matter and threatened him with dismissal if he violated the gag order. Pinchot had in his pocket a letter that could expose the scandal. This case explores the dilemma of Pinchot, a mid-level bureaucrat dependent on a president’s good will, and the strategies available to him. It shows the power of a single leader and the similarities the United States once had with many developing nations struggling with widespread corruption.
Through this case, students will gain a better understanding of how good communication is important for persuading stakeholders that a reform objective is both achievable and beneficial.