The rapidly changing challenges that confront the globe’s societies—and governments’ policy responses to them—were the focus of a two-day, 14-panel conference that brought dozens of academics and practitioners to George Mason University’s Arlington Campus in early February. The “International Perspectives on Public Policy and Administration” conference was co-hosted by the Schar School of Policy and Government and the Graduate School of Public Administration at Seoul National University, with support by the Korean government’s BK21PLUS program and additional resources by the Schar School.
Brain Korea 21, also known as the BK21PLUS, is a multidisciplinary postgraduate education and research infrastructure program intended to serve as a human development tool to strengthen Korean universities.
The idea for the conference, which follows on previous collaborations at Arizona State University in 2019 and Bocconi University in Milan in 2018, stemmed from a May 2019 visit by Schar School faculty members to Mason’s campus in Songdo, South Korea. The Schar School delegation spent a week delivering research to political leaders, professors, and students addressing international security issues and interacting with faculty from the region’s top universities.
Some 20 faculty members and students from Seoul National Graduate School of Public Administration in South Korea attended and participated in the conference, joining the Schar School’s Master’s in Public Administration and public policy faculty and an additional 20 U.S. and international scholars who shared their insights on how governments are addressing the complex range of problems societies face in the 21st century.
The keynote speech, “Politics, Public Management, and Governance: Bridging the Gaps Across Nations,” was delivered by American University’s Kenneth J. Meier. It was a fitting opening to a wide-ranging, yet sharply focused, conference.
“It’s important for us to maintain international connections and share information that illustrates the trajectory of future policies, in the U.S. and elsewhere,” said Schar School dean Mark J. Rozell. “Seoul National University is one of the best public administration and policy schools in the world and has an excellent network among academics that can help facilitate the exchange of knowledge.
“Conferences such as these pave the way for future international cooperation. They especially benefit graduate students who have a unique opportunity to participate and to network with leading scholars in the U.S. and abroad,” Rozell added.
Among many others, sessions addressed topics such as “The Declining Influence of Expertise in Congressional Policy Making,” “Can Good Public Servants Help Reduce Corruption?,” “A New Role of Local Governments in International Society,” “NPO/NGO Education in Public Administration in South Korea,” “Chinese Subsidies and Innovation in the Solar Photovoltaic Industry,” “Social Media for Social Accountability: Individuals’ Use of Twitter to Exercise Voice,” “Racial Justice, Representation, and Algorithmic Bias,” and “Should We Defend the Administrative State?”
Academic institutions represented included Taiwan’s Tamkang University, University of the Andes in Colombia, Education University of Hong Kong, West Virginia University, Georgia University, Rutgers University, New Jersey’s Kean University, the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State University, New York University, Florida International University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the City University of New York, Sam Houston State University, Washburn University, Georgetown University, Arizona State University, Indiana University, and Brigham Young University.
“The conference was a major success,” said Schar School Professor Ming Wan, one of the conference organizers. “It advanced the Schar School's strategic goal of increasing collaboration with leading international universities and scholars around the world. We look forward to follow-up activities in the coming months.”