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Teaching Democracy in Public Administration

Teaching Democracy in Public Administration: a TDI catalyst paper on trends and future prospects is a 2008 white paper written by Matt Leighninger and produced by The Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. The paper addresses the challenges faced by public administration educators, who are responding to trends toward democratic governance in the field. The article will be part of a special issue of the Journal of Public Deliberation devoted to deliberation and democracy in the academic disciplines.

Below is a brief description taken from the paper’s introduction. The full text of the article can be found at www.unh.edu/democracy/conference2009/pdf/Teaching-Democracy-in-Public-Administration-No-Better-Time.pdf.

The field of public administration (PA) has prepared several generations of graduates for leadership roles in the governance of our communities and our country. Professors at PA schools have taught students and conducted research in ways that reflect the needs of communities, agencies, and public officials.

Over the last century, the skills, ideas, and values upheld within the discipline have undergone several major shifts. We may be in the midst of another such transition, as PA schools react to new perspectives about the state of democracy and citizenship. Most of these arguments focus on the more participatory aspects of democracy and emphasize, for one reason or another, the need for governments to work more directly and interactively with citizens. “Democratic governance” is one term used to describe this set of ideas. This white paper explores the relationship between PA and democratic governance through interviews with professors and other observers of the field.

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