Melbourne School of Government launches ambition for better policy

09658220d9ba11e592b8373d1914f24c_inset_imageOn 18 June 2013, the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Business & Economics and Melbourne Law School at the University came together to launch the Melbourne School of Government, among leaders from the academic, corporate, government and community sectors.

The Governor of Victoria, His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC joined the University of Melbourne’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis to officially open the new School.

The Vice Chancellor is himself a Professor of Political Science, with previous academic appointments at Washington’s Brookings Institution and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A National Fellow with the Institute of Public Administration Australia, he has also served as Queensland’s most senior public servant, Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and as the Foundation Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

This first-hand experience of the value of joining the theory and practice of public policy, led the Vice Chancellor to personally champion the establishment of the Melbourne School of Government. Speaking at the School’s launch, he said:

“The new School brings together a wealth of policy and governance expertise. Students will be not only be taught by leading academics across Law, Business & Economics and Political Science, but will also engage with experienced practitioners inside and outside the classroom.”

Inaugural Melbourne School of Government Director, Professor Helen Sullivan, confirmed that the School will work intimately with federal and state governments, Australian and international businesses, the legal sector, domestic and foreign NGOs as well as the world’s best think-tanks and academic institutions and the general public: “These relationships will be critical if we’re to improve the expertise of those developing and implementing policies. We want an ongoing, genuine and robust dialogue with the world around us, to develop innovative responses to contemporary policy questions.”

The Dean of Law, Professor Carolyn Evans, and Dean of Business and Economics, Professor Paul Kofman, highlighted that as a joint venture of three faculties, the Melbourne School of Government can most effectively explore solutions to today’s pressing public policy problems, which are multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary – in areas like immigration, climate, ageing and health, food security, resources taxation and urban planning.

The Governor of Victoria, His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, said:

“There is no doubt that most challenges facing us and the rest of the world today are so multi-dimensional and complex that they tend to inhibit rather than encourage public discussion and development of policies in relation to them … if there was ever a desperate need for an effective School of Government that can engender quality discussion and facilitate the development of workable policies that assist governments to improve society, that time is right now … Our community should, therefore, be grateful to Professor Glyn Davis and the University of Melbourne for establishing such an important institution.”

Special guest speaker Helen Silver, who recently stepped down from the role of Victoria’s highest public servant, Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, said with real fervour: “I fundamentally believe in the importance of creating a dedicated academic ‘space’ to enhance the design and delivery of public policy, to generate thought leadership on complex, public policy issues; to engage across sectors and with other jurisdictions; and to create the next generation of public service leaders.”

Image above: Rear L-R Vice Chancellor Prof Glyn Davis; Helen Silver; Prof Mark Considine, Dean of Arts; His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC; Governor of Victoria; Prof Helen Sullivan; Director Melbourne School of Government; Front L-R Prof Paul Kofman Dean Business & Economics; Prof Carolyn Evans, Dean of Law at the launch. View more photos from the launch event. Read Helen Silver’s full speech – Helen Silver speech [PDF, 284 KB]. Watch the video of the launch event below.

Melbourne School of Government researchers win prestigious international award

Image: L-R Prof Jenny Lewis, Vice Chancellor Prof Glyn Davis and Prof Mark Considine. Photo: Peter Casamento.
Image: L-R Prof Jenny Lewis, Vice Chancellor
Prof Glyn Davis and Prof Mark Considine.
Photo: Peter Casamento.

Professor Mark Considine, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Professor Jenny Lewis, Melbourne School of Government, have become the first Australians to win one of the most prestigious international awards for research in the field of organisation studies and governance.

They won the Jan Kooiman Prize for the best research published in the journal Public Management Review in 2012. The prize is named after Jan Kooiman, an internationally renowned Dutch scholar who pioneered the study of governance and its role in explaining the steering capacity of public institutions.

The chair of the judging panel, Professor Stephen Osborne from the University of Edinburgh, described the research as “…path-breaking in its contribution to our knowledge of the way networks of actors impact the delivery of public services.”

Titled Networks and Interactivity: Ten years of street-level governance in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia, the study involved a 10 year examination of the way front-line staff in public service agencies, NGOs and private contractors in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands responded to the needs of their clients as processes of contracting and privatisation took root.

Prof Lewis said, “The research findings have significant implications for the way governments design public services and for the debate about the importance of different governance arrangements and their impact on contracting out services.”

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