Calum Carmichael

Calum Carmichael, Director, SPPA

Welcome to the School

It is a matter of perspective.

Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration has now entered its seventh decade of being a leading centre for Canadian scholarship and graduate education in public policy and administration. This makes us not only the oldest school of our type in the country, but also one of the oldest in the world.

In some respects, the conditions that affect public policy and administration in the present day are similar to those circa 1953 when the School was officially opened by the then Secretary of State for Canada, Jack Pickersgill. Technological change; resource use and depletion; income growth and distribution; demographic shifts; differing cultural or normative perspectives; the intersection of domestic and international concerns – such things have long required and received the attention of policy makers.

In other respects, however, our present-day conditions are distinct. Unprecedented are the pace and reach of technological change, the projections of environmental fragility, the shifts in income differences and population aging, the complexity of conflicting normative perspectives, and the number of jurisdictions having simultaneous stakes in given policy outcomes. Great are now the social costs that could be either triggered by getting the policy responses wrong, or avoided by getting them right.

It is a matter of preparation.

Such contemporary developments have increased the local and national needs for individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective players in the processes and organizations through which public policies are debated, decided, implemented, and evaluated. And with those needs come unparalleled opportunities. Opportunities for individuals who can comprehend and communicate, drawing from and generalizing across specialized sources of information. Individuals who can see the long-term and wide-ranging beyond the immediate and specific. Individuals who will combine professionalism with a passion for service and the practical desire to make their world a better place.

Our graduate programs are designed and delivered with these needs and opportunities in mind. We attract students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds, and help to strengthen the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be more discerning and more capable in their careers, whether working with governments, or in them.

But the School is more than the sum of its graduate programs. It comprises an incredibly collegial community of active scholars working in key areas of public policy and policy-making – areas that include the environment, energy, health care, urban and Aboriginal governance, taxation, philanthropy, international development, intergovernmental relations, evaluation, citizen engagement, among many others. Our symposia, conferences, speakers, visitors, research centres, and international activities all help to bring these areas alive, and to make tangible the connections between them and the enduring questions of why and how governments would act, or should act.

I thank you for your interest in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration, its graduate programs and its scholarship. And I invite you to consider how we might support you in preparing for a career in public life and public service.

Calum Carmichael, Director