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About: Working Group on Degree Programmes of PA/PP Education in Post-socialist Countries
The goal of the working group research is to improve the degree programmes of PA/PP from Central and Eastern European countries through Central Asia in order to reflect the needs and the challenges of their new environment in the field and modern public administration and public policy by sharing experience and learning from each other within the larger NISPAcee network. Given one of the missions of NISPACEE: "improving educational programs by assisting human capacity building and institutional development through learning from each other”, the research will gain from working within the context of this organisation and will directly serve to the implementation of the major part of the mission of the organization. Existing NISPAcee contacts, the yearly conferences, the electronic facilities and so on can facilitate the research successful implementation as well as dissemination and utilization of the research results.
In practical sense the results will assist:
· individual Universities to design their curriculum, modules and courses
· individual Universities to identify the ways and means to overcome difficulties they face
· teachers to adopt substantive and pedagogical approaches that proved to be successful elsewhere
· and national policy-makers on higher education in their decisions.
The following research objectives are going to be accomplished during the project implementation in the targeted countries:
· in-depth analysis of developments in individual Universities
· analysis of the national policies on PA/PP education
· international comparative analysis of (changes in) PA/PP programs
· formulation of lessons learned and making practical recommendations for improvement.

Public administration and public policy making are deeply influenced in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union by the transition towards a market economy, by democratization, by self-government and so on. But in addition the buzzwords of the present era are democratic Governance, good Governance, e-government, integration, globalization, Copenhagen criteria, policy cycles and so on, in the terms of education e.g. Bologna declaration. The challenges of this new era are and should be reflected in teaching and training of civil servants. For short: new conditions require new competences. As often in social sciences, changes in the object of study means that research methods must also be adapted. Besides that, there are autonomous developments in the field of academic (university) education, like the differences in the advancement of disciplinary studies that are necessary for PA/PP, national and international academic reforms that set standards etc. However also the influence of communication-technology on didactical (pedagogical) methods, the changing attitude of students towards the process of acquiring knowledge and the ways of learning skills changed dramatically in the post-socialist countries.
In this dynamic situation a reflection on PA/PP degree programs of the Universities can serve for the benefit to further development through learning from each other. This reflection should be based on research results. Academic institutes in all post-socialist countries are dealing with these problems. Some universities have significantly advanced their programme content and teaching methodology, others lag behind, and most of them can be placed between the most advanced ones and those that are in the initial stage to develop their PA/PP programmes. As for previous similar endeavors we should note the research that had been carried out within the European Networks, but the outcomes of this research have already been out dated in terms of existing curricula as well as changing environment and most importantly the geographical focus and therefore the further improvements of PA/PP programmes in CEE and Central Asia Countries require additional substantive research in the field.
Covering the CE, CEE, Balkan, NIS, Caucasus, Central Asia countries together in one research has the advantage to be able to show the existing differences and more importantly to show where countries positioned on the imaginary stage of development. Focusing on PA/PP education it is expected that the results will reveal some of the major obstacles, missing factors that explain differences in substantive and pedagogical components of the programmes.
The  NISPAcee Working Group on Degree programmes of Public Administration/Public Policy Education from Central and Eastern Europe through Central Asia may be considered as a continuation of the NISPAcee research activities in the field of development of educational programmes and improvement of their quality by assisting human capacity building and institutional development through learning from each other. In a comparison to the previous research in the field the agenda of this new NISPAcee working group is focused not only on the countries of the European Union, but on sharing experience from new member states of EU, through accession countries to the EU to other Countries in "wider” Europe and Central Asia. In addition the research agenda targets the present and upcoming major challenges for improvements of the PA and PP programmes which are coming overlapping in many regards, and is not only focused on a comprehensive monitoring and reporting about the present situation in all the individual countries in the region.
Having the most turbulent years of political and economic transition behind us that brought into being our reorganized and/or newly established PA / PP programmes (institutes, departments), we have arrived to a turning point when it is appropriate to start stock-making, consolidating our achievements, and looking ahead to identify immediate and farther steps that should be done to improve the substantive and the pedagogical components of the educational programmes.
Teachers, instructors, and persons responsible for a whole or a module of educational programme at institutions of higher education offering degree programmes in public administration / public policy are invited to join. The instrument of sharing institutional and personal successes and failures is going to be utilized in order to promote professional development. It is not the success or failure in itself that is significant from this perspective, but the route that have been taken, the obstacles that had to overcome, the factors that have been helpful or damaging. Thus papers for discussion should explicitly focus on ‘how’ in dealing with any specific issue of ‘what’.

Within the dynamic field described above some specific research questions can be formulated:
· Which developments in degree programs of PA/PP education can be identified in relation to the state reform in the post-socialist countries?
· What are the (practical) problems with implementing the identified program components, new modules and specific courses?
· What is the influence of international co-operation on the renewal of BA/MA programs?

The focus of the Working Group for the 13th NISPAcee Annual Conference in 2005:

Theme 2005: "Looking back and looking ahead: priorities in the past and present for developing quality programmes within CEE institutes of higher education”

The WG has its first meeting in Moscow with four aims identified in the call for papers: problems of past and future development of degree programs of PA / PP education, of the development of a specialization / module / course, issues of the Bologna process, review experiences of present or past international support projects. The last topic has failed to provoke any papers from the NISPAcee community.
Eight papers from seven countries were presented, topics included the development of PA/PP education in a particular country (Selimyan, Maly), offering PA program within business faculty (Mikulowski, Laido), first lessons of the Bologna process (Junjan and Sandor and Tripon), PA program on specific area (health care) (Khachatryan), the multifaceted implications of the role of nonprofits as social capital assets and as agents in the policy process (Bryce), and quality assurance of Ph.D. program (Knyazeu and Hacharonak).
Participants have agreed that WG activities in the future would also include: multidisciplinarity and flexibility of the programs, curriculum development in relation to requirements of the working place, glossary of terminological misunderstandings.
Call for papers 2005

The focus of the Working Group for the 14th NISPAcee Annual Conference in 2006:

Theme 2006: Taking stock of accomplishments and identifying guidelines for progress – the contribution of PA/PP education to the creation of effective civil service and improved governance.

After the first meeting during the NISPAcee conference in Moscow in 2005 members of the working group had contact by mail. During the 14th NISPAcee Annual Conference in Ljubljana the working group had its second meeting. This time there were papers on degree programmes in 6 countries(Kyrzygstan, Georgia, twice Russia, Latvia, Ukraine). More then before information on the situation in countries east of the enlarged EU was available. Next to the country information , a paper on accreditation of PA-programmes and a paper on education on state reform were discussed.

Interesting topics were for example :

  • the relation between the needs/demands in the public administration and the outcomes of public administration education
  • specialisation in the administration in relation to the risks of fragmentation of the education
  • The relation between mission, curriculum development, didactics and evaluation of the programmes
  • The different target-groups of PA-education.

The next step is the programme coordinators will analyse the materials discussed during the conferences in Moscow and Ljubljana and prepare a publication as tangible outcome of this two-years project.

Call for papers 2006

The Working Group on Degree Programs of PA/PP Education in Post-socialist Countries had been supported by a grant from The Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative Open Society Institute, Budapest, Hungary http://lgi.osi.hu/