Issues of public policy have been deliberated over by economists, political scientists, lawyers and many others since the dawn of time. With the announcement of the new school of policy studies at the University of Calgary, the debate will continue to rage here on campus.
The new program is hoped to become one of the foremost schools for the training of future policy-makers, civil servants and anyone interested in the public policy process and its effect on the affairs Canadians and others around the world. Also at the core of the school is a new outlet for extensive research and analysis of various government and public concerns. The school will build upon the already-strong economics, political science and many other programs at U of C.
At the reins of the new school is former president and CEO of the C. D. Howe Institute Dr. Jack Mintz. He will hold the Palmer Chair in Public Policy upon taking over his position.
“Mintz is really high-profile,” said U of C president Dr. Harvey Weingarten. “Not only is he well-known in academia, but in government and many think tanks. He’s a pre-eminent policy guy who’s equally comfortable and respected in the strict academic world and in the rough-and-tumble world of government policy. He’s navigated that world and, as a result, has a skill-set you don’t often see.”
Under Mintz’s informed leadership, the U of C hopes to refine its role and make a name for itself in the public policy arena as well as attract great and promising minds.
“The role of universities is to do the research and scholarly analysis that informs good public policy and helps the government understand the consequences of policy decisions,” said Weingarten. “When the government makes a decision, you want them to make as informed a decision as possible.”
Weingarten added that the research will help to create a profile to recruit and promote scholars and students at the school.
Canada is on the forefront of many policy issues and changes. Mintz hopes the new school will cause an effect on these national issues.
“Climate change is always a huge issue, as [are] the governance of our country, allocation of tax powers and foreign policy and security,” he said. “We can’t just wear one lens when examining these issues. Analyzing the policy process brings to light what’s feasible and what we can achieve in these situations.”
Mintz stressed the benefits of basing the new school out of the U of C. Among the most notable strengths are the qualified and experienced group in the departments of economics and political science.
“With that group of people working together and the fact that Calgary is such a dynamic city with a very entrepreneurial attitude, this school can go further and gain international recognition,” he said.
Above all else, the school is slated to create a niche for those interested in studying government, as well as the huge impact policy has on the country.
“This school has the potential to become one of the most well-known policy studies programs in western Canada,” said Students’ Union vice-president academic Brittany Sargent. “New programs mean more opportunities for students, which is always a good thing.”
Mintz will begin his new position Jan. 1, 2008.