Task Force on Public Policy Studies
PDAD&C #0, 2001-2002
M E M O R A N D U M
|TO:||Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs|
|FROM:||Adel Sedra, Vice-President and Provost|
|DATE:||July 3, 2001|
|RE:||Task Force on Public Policy Studies|
I am pleased to announce the establishment of a Task Force on Public Policy Studies. The terms of reference and membership of the Task Force follow.
Task Force on Public Policy Studies
In the past two decades, the world of public policy in Canada and other advanced nations has been buffeted by political, economic, technological, cultural and demographic change. Demographic changes have placed increasing demands on established governmental social programs, even as fiscal pressures have strained the capacity of governments to respond. Meanwhile, cross-national economic and technological forces beyond the scope of any national or sub-national government have gained increasing strength. These changes have called into question the perceptions of the role and capacity of governments that prevailed in the mid-twentieth century, and have raised issues of the balance of public and private activity, the use of policy instruments, and the design of institutions. For those who seek to influence, formulate, implement and respond to governmental actions, these are enormous challenges. It has never been more important that Canadian universities respond to the needs for intensive and independent research on these issues, and for the development of a strong cadre of people with the capacity to understand and address them.
The University of Toronto has very substantial strengths in areas related to a broad spectrum of fields of public policy - health and social policy, education, global development and economic competitiveness, environmental policy, law and regulation, among others. These strengths are grounded in robust discipline-based academic units - a fact which has both advantages and disadvantages. The clear advantage of this discipline-based strength, and one which must be preserved, is that scholars of public policy maintain close connections with the full richness and rigour of their respective disciplines. The disadvantage is that our strengths in public policy have remained relatively hidden within their disciplinary homes. Nor has there been a vehicle to encourage and facilitate collaboration across policy fields with regard to common and cross-cutting issues such as the translation of research into policy, technology assessment, values frameworks, etc.
Until recently, a similar situation prevailed with regard to international studies at the University of Toronto. In that case, the provision of a very attractive physical facility, housing some but not all of the units with strength in international studies and providing a central venue for seminars, symposia and other events, created a much-need profile and focus for cooperation for international studies at the University, and, by accommodating the administration of a collaborative master's program in international studies as well as undergraduate international and area studies programs, facilitated linkages across these programs.
It may be possible to learn from and build upon our experience in international studies in order to enhance public policy studies at UofT. As was the case for international studies, there is the possibility of seeking private funding to renovate a very attractive physical venue to serve as a nucleus and an identifying presence for policy studies. Given substantial strength across disciplines, it may also be possible to develop a collaborative master's program in public policy, and to do together what no one department can do independently. The appropriate organizational model to accomplish these ends needs to be developed. One possibility is a School of Public Policy, to function as both a physical presence and a virtual network of related programs and units across the University.
No university in Canada is better positioned to build capacity in public policy than is the University of Toronto. Situated in a major metropolitan area which is home to the provincial government and a broad range of organizations in the broader public and private sectors, the University also embraces, in addition to its traditional strengths in arts and science, a full spectrum of professional programs including the health sciences, law, education, engineering, management, social work, planning, architecture, forestry, information studies and others. In sum, the University of Toronto has the ingredients to create a network of educational and research resources in public policy that matches the University's ambition to rank with the best public research universities in the world.
In order to realize this potential, the Provost has established a Task Force on Public Policy Studies with the following Terms of Reference.
It is anticipated that the Task Force will issue an interim report recommending an overall framework and, as appropriate, informing the striking of a Project Committee for a dedicated public policy building, by October 15, 2001. A final report with fuller recommendations regarding the organizational and program structure is to be submitted by February 15, 2002.
The Task Force welcomes submissions, sent to the attention of the Chair, Room 206, Simcoe Hall, University of Toronto, 27 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1.