Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, July 1, 2012

Levine explores, applies analysis tools

Nick Levine

Nick Levine came to the La Follette School to pick up a few more analysis tools.

"I have a background in the humanities, in East Asian studies with an emphasis on China," Levine says, "but my analysis suffered from a lack of understanding involving the economics, statistics and legal precedents used in the law and social sciences."

After graduating from New York University in 2007, Levine headed to China and taught high school English. He then won a Fulbright scholarship and conducted research in China, looking at contemporary uses of Confucian philosophy and terminology in Chinese academic, media and politics.

The Madison native returned to Wisconsin and started law school with the intent of earned dual degrees in law and international public affairs. He is finding the addition of policy analysis skills to his toolbox to be useful. "The quantitative skills allow me to analyze certain topics that I've already studied but in a new way," he says. "I now look at China's economic situation in a completely different light."

"In just one year my ability to conceptualize the world from quantitative perspectives has broadened tremendously, and this is all just the result of stats class and a couple econ classes," he adds.

During Levine's first year at of the La Follette's Master of International Public Affairs degree program, he had a fellowship. This year, he will be a project assistant with economist Menzie Chinn. "I took his macroeconomics course and loved it," Levine says. "He's an amazing teacher. The best part of class was just listing to him riff for the first 20 minutes of class about current events. I look forward to working with him as his PA."

This summer Levine is interning with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, helping to write model progressive legislation for the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange, to produce a web-based library of progressive model laws. "I am drafting model laws on issues involving energy, the environment and smart infrastructure. I largely find myself pulling from my legal training to do this job, but professor David Weimer's Policy Analysis class provided me with a great deal of skills that are directly transferrable."

Levine is also expanding his knowledge base to include energy analysis, and he plans to earn the certificate in energy analysis and policy. "I'm trying to use my time in graduate school to learn about things that I've heretofore been unfamiliar with — energy, for example. Although I lack a science background, I've become increasingly interested in global warming, renewable energy, the use of and competition for finite fossil fuels, and how all these issues relate to Chinese-U.S. relations."

Once he graduates, Levine hopes to blend these interests in a job that addresses energy policy and law and how they affect Chinese-U.S. relations. "I must feel a job has a meaningful and actual impact on real-life events," Levine says. "I also want to feel connected to the organization's cause. These two conditions could put me in a number of fields, including law, national security or business."