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Teaching public administration with cases

When I did my MBA coursework at The University of British Columbia, we used the case study method for several courses. In particular, we (students) purchased a course packet with photocopies of Harvard case studies, produced by the Harvard Business School. These cases were written accounts of challenges facing corporations and firms and we were, as students, supposed to find ways to solve them, using the methods, techniques and tools we had just learned.

At UBC (now as a faculty member, and in political science), I used a problem-based method that enabled me to teach my students “hire-able” skills: how to write a case study, a policy briefing, a policy memorandum, etc. I am teaching now in Spanish (for the past year, I’ve only taught one course in Spanish, whereas most of my university-level teaching was in English), and I am finding it somewhat hard to use case-study-based teaching. Most of the cases that have been produced that I am aware of are either in English (check the amazing collection of the Electronic Hallway at the Evans School of Public Affairs, which I’ve used before when I taught in Canada) or in Spanish, but too old (the 2000 Cabrero book is well, 14 years old).

Debate CIDE Region Centro Students Local GovernmentMy goal for the fall (I’m teaching State-and-Local Government, and Regional Development) is to use case studies to assess how my students learn. I am also planning to teach my students to write case studies on specific Mexican municipalities and states, so that in the future we can refine them for an edited volume that could be used to teach these courses.

I’ve found some great resources on teaching public administration with case studies, in particular the following ones:

– The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) has a Teaching Guide with lots of resources to teach public affairs and public policy.
– Powell et al (2014) on using a capstone case study to assess whether students learn NASPAA competencies.
– Morse and Stephens (2014) on teaching collaborative governance with case studies.
National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. Has a broad range of case study selections and websites, including some for public and international affairs.
– The Harvard Kennedy School of Government has also developed a Case Program.
– The American Political Science Association (APSA) also has some resources on teaching, including case studies.
– Walsh (2006) on how to use case studies to teach public administration in cross-national contexts.
– Graham on teaching public administration with case studies, with some great rationales.
– The Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration portal also has lots of resources on teaching cases in public policy and public administration.
– Resources on interactive teaching in public administration.

– Ines Mergel pointed me out to the Program for the Advancement of Research in Conflict and Collaboration Cases Databaseat the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

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