Universiteit Leiden

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Bringing science to practice: Designing an integrated academic education program for public affairs

Arco Timmermans, Professor by special appointment Public Affairs at Leiden University, brought sience to practice by designing an “ideal” academic education programme on public affairs, to be embedded and taught at the graduate level.

Arco Timmermans
02 June 2020

The ongoing spread of public affairs as an organizational function calls for a more integrated and systematic approach to teaching program development in this field. In many countries we see a process of “publicization,” with increasing visibility of lobbying behavior and emphasis on accountability. Also in many countries, the reality of public affairs has become more complex as new players and issues enter the public and political arenas. There is more attention within and outside the community of practitioners to the way in which public affairs can move on in professionalization and solidify itself in the political and social environment. The way forward is to further build a recognizable academic domain that can help shape and consolidate the knowledge identity of public affairs and make public affairs activities more clearly evidence based. This contribution presents what may be called an “ideal” academic education program on public affairs, to be embedded and taught at the graduate level. For this to be grounded well, it is necessary to re‐address the concept of public affairs and consider the main elements of the body of knowledge and skills that can inform further education development. On this basis, three learning lines are distinguished for a modular approach to teach an integrated graduate program on public affairs in which the boundary spanning roles of a next generation of public affairs professionals can be performed effectively and responsibly.

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