Comparative Public Policy and Governance

Comparative Public Policy and Governance is a subject that encompasses much work in the Department of Political Science, the School of Public Administration, and other elements in the Faculty of Human and Social Development.

Within the Department of Political Science, a number of faculty work on public policy:

Outside the Department of Political Science, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, James McDavid and John Langford of the School of Public Administration, Karena Shaw (Environmental Studies), Cecilia Benoit (Sociology), Helga Halgrimsdottir (Sociology), together with Michael Prince and Katherine Teghtsoonian of the Program in Policy and Practice, form a strong cadre of public policy specialists.

These faculty members can support advanced research in many different policy sectors: taxation policy, environmental policy, social policy, information and communications policy, immigration policy, urban policy, homelessness, energy policy and others.

We would hope, therefore, to attract students interested in researching the dynamics of policy development and implementation, and in explaining differences and similarities in policy outputs and outcomes in comparative and international contexts.

These students might be generally interested in the ways in which the forces of "globalization" affect the ways in which national and local governments respond to common policy challenges. Their research might be comparative in a cross-national sense, it might be comparative of jurisdictions within Canada, or it might be comparative of local jurisdictions across national boundaries.

The collaborative relationship between the School of Public Administration (SPA) and the Department of Political Science is the key to effective graduate programming in this field. The School has the responsibility for professional training in the field of public administration, but it also supports advanced research in the field. Working collaboratively, the School and the Department can support both professionally-oriented and academically-oriented research students.

The Department's particular contribution is to bring strong theoretical and comparative perspectives to bear on the work at hand. Students concentrating in this field will be expected to take a two-course seminar sequence. The first is offered by the Political Science Department entitled Comparative Public Policy and Governance (POLI 607); this course reviews the conceptual and theoretical literature on policy development and implementation in comparative perspective. A second course is offered by the School of Public Administration Theories of Public Management (POLI 610/ADMN 604). Both courses are cross-listed and co-developed with faculty from both units. 

In addition, some political science students might be required to take one or two courses on methodology, offered by the School. Some SPA students might also take other policy-related seminars in the Department.

Candidacy examinations will be developed jointly by Faculty within the Department and the School, based on the reading lists in the two required courses. A natural complement to a candidacy examination in comparative public policy and governance would be one in Canadian Politics, but international relations, comparative politics, and political theory are also possibilities.