How can solutions be found to global public policy challenges?

  • Helmut Anheier and Yann Algan, October 2016, Paris ©Sciences PoHelmut Anheier and Yann Algan, October 2016, Paris ©Sciences Po

The deans of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs responded to this question with one voice. Schools of public policy and public policy students from around the world must work together, open up to other cultures and draw on professionals from diverse fields including scientists, entrepreneurs, start-ups and developers. Read the joint interview.

In June 2016, the Global Public Policy Network secretariat moved from the Hertie School of Governance to Sciences Po. Yann, as dean of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, you will head the GPPN for the next two years. What are your plans for the GPPN?

Yann Algan, dean of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs:

The world is a global village, but we are clearly lacking global village leaders. The mission of the GPPN, which includes seven universities from around the world,* is to provide innovative solutions to the major global public policy challenges—climate change, sustainable development, global health or the global financial market—through knowledge-sharing.

The GPPN is first and foremost a student exchange programme, but we also try to develop a variety of educational innovations that connect the GPPN partners overall. We share a common public policy case study library, typically looking at how a given public policy is implemented in two different countries; for instance, how Uber or AirbnB are regulated in Berlin and Paris, compared to the situation in Tokyo, Singapore and New York.

We also share expertise on policy themes and capstone experiences of policy implementation in each city in which a member of the GPPN is located. So in terms of education, we really build on the complementary nature of each institution to learn from each other.

We enrich this dimension by sharing research and practical expertise with workshops and joint policy seminars on all the main public policy themes.

The Hertie School recently organised joint seminars on immigration and energy and we are preparing a workshop on the new narratives of globalisation. How can we explain people's frustration in the face of globalisation? What new kind of globalisation could we propose? We also plan to hold various workshops on civic tech and the new forms of democracy.

In February 2017 at Sciences Po in Paris, public policy students from around the world will attend the Global Public Policy Network conference. Which topics will be on the agenda?

Helmut Anheier, dean of the Hertie School of Governance:

The topics stressed by Yann are central, but they can sometimes seem abstract and lofty. So it is important to bring them alive by contextualising them within the machinery of policy making in each country. That is one of the objectives of the GPPN conference to be held next February at Sciences Po in Paris. Public policy students will be asked to think about what it could actually mean to achieve something like health for all or education for all.

The new narratives are important for globalisation in that they can counter certain populist arguments. Populists disregard the evidence and instead of using arguments based on facts, they argue based on emotions. This politics of fear is very dangerous and I think we have to encourage students to counterattack.

Yann Algan:

Absolutely, we need to transform frustrations and fears into solutions and enthusiasm. The GPPN conference this year will propose a new and very exciting experiment. Students participating in the conference will be encouraged to take part in what we call a “Sustainable Development Goals Policy Innovation Lab”. The purpose of this lab is to mobilise student intelligence to develop creative technology or policy solutions for challenges concerning the UN sustainable development goals.

We will ask students to focus on some specific goals, for instance finding concrete solutions with regard to sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, or peace and justice.

Students will still be able to produce some concept papers but this year, we will strongly encourage them to come up with prototypes. Some of these may use technological or ICT components, but it is not compulsory, as long as the students produce a policy innovation that includes a concrete solution to improve the life of citizens.

It is a good way to train students to have a new impact on the environment and to bring together a large community around the GPPN, including not only students but also researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, start-ups, developers, etc. In other words, we want to mobilise all the skills we need to have an impact on the big public policy challenges we have to face.

Who are the students who will attend the conference?

Yann Algan:

Students attend the conference on a voluntary basis and we expect about 80 students at Sciences Po in Paris on 17-18 February.

Each GPPN university will select about 15 students based on a project paper or a prototype. The selected students will present their project papers or prototypes during the conference and at the end, the most promising projects will be selected by a panel and will receive the necessary support to develop and perhaps even become a start-up.

Helmut Anheier:

It is a student-led conference and this year we are taking it a step further with this innovative lab. It is not a conference where students just present papers; the innovative lab is a central component of the event and a key factor in the development of the GPPN. The GPPN was primarily an academic grouping and our objective now is to become more proactive, to become an applied policy community as well.

The dual Master’s degree between Sciences Po and the Hertie School of Governance has recently been redesigned. What are your objectives with this revised programme?

Helmut Anheier:

The dual degree was created ten years ago and it has attracted a number of students, but typically only two or three students a year at each institution. So the programme as it was did not have the capacity that the revised programme will make possible.

Students enrolled in the revised joint degree will form a real cohort of 10 to 15 students. They will get to know each other very well during the first year here in Paris and then during the second year in Berlin.

Yann Algan:

More generally, this dual degree is designed to promote the revival of the European ideal. Europe has a key role in designing the future world. Accordingly, the aim of the dual degree is to educate a new generation of leaders who want to address humanity's most pressing challenges and find innovative solutions to improve the life of citizens in the European context.

The Sciences Po-Hertie School programme is a key partnership. It offers a cross-disciplinary approach with a plurality of values, ethics and cultural contexts.

We attract both graduate students and young professionals who want to navigate between the public and private sectors and gain expertise in the management of public policy in Europe.

Who are the students enrolled in the revised dual degree programme?

Yann Algan:

We are very happy with the new programme's first cohort, made up of 12 bright students from seven countries: the United States, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Korea, Germany and France. This diversity of origins is a sign of the attractiveness of European affairs.

Helmut Anheier:

The academic coordinator of the programme is economist Jean Pisani-Ferry, who founded the think tank Bruegel in Brussels.

As a professor at the Hertie School of Governance and at Sciences Po, Jean plays a key role in coordinating the students. He teaches at Sciences Po during the first year of the dual degree and then teaches public economics at the Hertie School in Berlin during the second year of the programme.

*The GPPN includes SIPA at Columbia University, the London School of Economics, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo, FGV-Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, the Hertie School of Governance and Sciences Po.

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