Joint Politics and TRP 50th anniversary logo

Governance, Pragmatism and Democracy: A Workshop with Chris Ansell

A professor from the University of California, Berkeley, is due to present his ideas on pragmatist democracy at an event held next month to mark the 50th anniversary of both the Department of Politics and the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield.

Professor Chris Ansell will speak about pragmatist democracy before several speakers, both practitioners and academics, will then present how a pragmatist public philosophy can be attained in different public domains, such as public administration planning, participatory democracy, and social services.

2011 saw the publication of Chris Ansell’s Pragmatist Democracy: Evolutionary Learning as Public Philosophy. In this rich, remarkable book, Ansell formulates an approach to governance - which he calls a public philosophy - that crucially draws on pragmatism. The central concern of the book is the functioning of our democracy. Like many before him, Ansell observes a general disenchantment among citizens with the functioning of democracy. But, while most of us think of reforms of the electoral process or bemoan the decline of political parties, Ansell places the administrative state central in his analysis of democracy. He is interested in “how administrative organizations function within democratic societies”. His book can be read as one long exploration of public agencies and their role in sustaining a viable and responsive democracy. Ansell discusses, in fact, the crucial but under-researched relationship between governance and democracy.

The workshop, hosted by the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, takes place on Friday, September 19, 2014, from 10am until 1.30pm, in Room 215, Elmfield, the University of Sheffield, Northumberland Road, S10 2TU. The programme for the day is as follows:

10am – Opening: Professor Matthew Flinders, Director, the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics.

10.10am – Professor Chris Ansell (University of California, Berkeley): Pragmatist Democracy.

11 – 11.15am – Coffee break.

11.15am – Professor Patsy Healey (Newcastle University).

12pm – Professor Arjen Boin (University of Utrecht).

12.45pm – David Blunkett (Member of Parliament, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough).

1.30pm – Lunch.

This workshop is free to attend but registration is essential. For those wishing to confirm their attendance, please email Matthew Wood: