Picture of Politics 50th Anniversary WorkshopAcademics and Practitioners Unite for Department’s 50th Anniversary Workshop

The Department of Politics recently welcomed Professor Chris Ansell from University of California, Berkeley, to speak at its 50th anniversary conference around the theme of ‘Governance, Pragmatism and Democracy.’

The event, organised by the Department of Politics and the Department of Town and Regional Planning to celebrate their respective 50th anniversaries, was hosted by the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, the new research centre which opened recently in the Department of Politics.

The focus on what happens when great ideas come against the day-to-day challenges of modern governance – “when the rubber hits the road”, as Professor Ansell put it at the event – provided a great focus on the relationship between theory and practice.
Professor Ansell presented his ideas on pragmatist democracy. Several speakers, both practitioners and academics, then presented how a pragmatist public philosophy could be attained in different public domains, such as public administration planning, participatory democracy, and social services.

The mixture of academics and practitioners acting as respondents added extra tone and texture to the event. David Blunkett MP reflected on his own experience as Home Secretary, Patsy Healey focused on planning and social renewal, and Arjen Boin from Leiden University drew on insights from the field of crisis management.

Professor Matthew Flinders, Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, said: “The 50th anniversary event was exactly the sort of collaborative project that the Crick Centre is designed to facilitate.

“It was great to see so many academics and students from so many departments coming along. I’m looking forward to future events that develop and take forward this focus on engaged scholarship.”