Date01 December 2022
AuthorDiamond, John
  1. Structure and outline of the Think Piece

    The primary focus of this discussion paper is to reflect on the relationship between the significant political, economic, social, and environmental changes which have taken place over the last forty years and the PA curriculum. Specifically, the paper will argue that these changes have disrupted many assumed expectations about curriculum design and pedagogy. In particular, I will suggest that these disruptions have the potential to underline the significance that pedagogical enquiry and scholarship has for acting as a bridge between practice and research.

    The Think Piece is organized into three strands. Strand 1 addresses the key global changes that have disrupted the conventional assumptions which inform the field of public administration; Strand 2 explores the disruptive influence of technologie for teaching and learning and Strand 3 attempts to situate these different but complementary ways of thinking about PA pedagogy and practice by anticipating changes for the field (as a discipline or study) over the next decade including the roles played by networks and journals.

    There is an important caveat to what follows: I recognize that curriculum design (including assessment and teaching and learning strategies) is subject to levels of audit and inspection through different quality assurance and enhancement models. It is important to note that these are themselves products of an increased regulatory and compliance environment which can be traced to dimensions of Strand 1. A number (but not all) of Public Administration scholars and departments in universities are subject to many regulatory 'eyes': from university internal systems to external accreditation or recognition by professional bodies or international agencies established to represent the special interests of Public Administration networks or groups. The point we need to note here is the extent to which public administration scholars have relative (not complete) autonomy over their curriculum design. At all levels there are processes which include complex skills of navigation and negotiation. The PA Curriculum does not exist in an agreed and mutually understood space. It is subject to change. My point in this paper is to suggest that this process has accelerated and is much less stable than it was and that one consequence of this has been to undervalue the significance that the teaching and learning space has to offer a much broader set of conceptual, theoretical, and critical perspectives which shape Public Administration as a discipline or field of enquiry.

  2. Strand one: global disruptions

    The starting point for this discussion in this section is to recognize that the patterns of change and disruption are not even in terms of their impact. The unevenness of their impact raises other questions or lines of enquiry, the essential point for this discussion is that it is possible to identify and categorize these changes and to recognize the impact they have had and continue to have on public administration as a field of professional practice as well as a direct impact on the curriculum at all levels. For the purposes of this paper, I have selected the following as illustrative of the disruptions that have not only shaped global development but, also, reimagined the pedagogy of Public Administration as a discipline:

    * The influence of 'neo-liberalism' or New Public Management (NPM) from the late 1970s onwards in advanced social democratic states. We can discuss the extent to which NPM as a model 'failed' or 'succeeded' but for this discussion that's not the key point. The disruptive power of NPM was that it led to a reframing of the legitimacy of public service organizations and institutions. Within a learning and pedagogical context this called into question the role of local government, its legitimacy as well as its function. In the wake of NPM across the globe the new orthodoxies of global agencies and institutions (including governments in the USA and the UK) were that private sector values and ways of working should shape public service practice. This included the marketization of previously public services (including in the UK health and education) and the privatization of the public sector. For those teaching and developing programs of study for new practitioners or existing ones this was a profoundly disruptive period (the legacies of which are still evident). Specifically, the...

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