… concepts, topics, and courses taught in leading MPP and MPA programs

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What is the Atlas of Public Management?

The Atlas of Public Management is an open access web portal displaying an integrated set of databases on concepts, topics, and courses taught in leading MPP and MPA programs, as well as on the programs themselves and advice on public management from international organizations. The databases and the accompanying comparative analyses build on work conducted in a multi-year research project funded by the Government of Canada.

Atlas resources

The databases, analysis, methodologies and other material on the Atlas are listed at Atlas Resources and described lower on this page.

Who might be interested

We hope the Atlas will be of interest to those who wish to teach, or assess, or learn curricular content in MPP and MPA programs. This includes instructors developing a course, assessors examining curricular content for purposes of quality assurance or accreditation, and current or former students and others who wish to learn more about the core topics and concepts in public management. Our vision for the Atlas as a learning tool is set out at Atlas U. Although the Atlas contributors and institutional homes are Canadian, the material should be of interest to scholars in other countries given the universal nature of the subject matter and the fact that much of it has been drawn from sources outside Canada. Recent interest in sharing course preparation work (see Alex Usher at http://higheredstrategy.com/taking-advantage-of-course-duplication/, accessed 26 May 2016) and in developing a “Syllabus Commons” (see http://chronicle.com/article/How-a-Syllabus-Commons-/235330, accessed 19 February 2016), suggests that interest could eventually extend beyond the public management field.

Who we are

The Atlas team is profiled at The Atlas Team.

Click for Original (pre-2016) Atlas


Work on the original Atlas began in 2008 and was funded by the Canada School of Public Service and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. The website, known first as the Public Policy and Governance Portal and then as the Atlas of Public Policy and Management, was built on a multi-server platform at the University of Toronto that is now nearing the end of its technological life. Our current work is focused on the Atlas Core Curriculum Project.

Current version of the Atlas

The current version of the Atlas was designed in 2016 to run on a WordPress platform using a third-party web hosting service at a modest cost that can be covered by the Atlas editors without further research grants. The WordPress platform gives the Atlas a consistent look and feel across the full range of browsers and devices, including handhelds. It uses the name Atlas of Public Management to distinguish it from the pre-2016 version called Atlas of Public Policy and Management.

Much of the material from the original Atlas has been migrated to current Atlas although some links will continue to point to material on the pre-2016 Atlas. Material created since December 2015 will appear only on the current Atlas. The pre-2016 Atlas will continue to be accessible as a source of archived material, particularly the curricular analyses conducted in 2015 of 119 MPP/MPA programs in 17 countries.

The structure of the Atlas

The primary databases

The bulk of the work conducted since 2008 (with the help of research assistants enrolled in Canadian MPP and MPA programs) was devoted to constructing five primary databases:

Programs: descriptions in a standard format of 120 programs offering MPP, MPA or similar degrees.

Courses: descriptions in a standard format of specimen courses from such programs, and of Atlas course syllabi that draw on multiple courses and international competency standards.

Topics: descriptions in a standard format of 120 core normed topics and additional normed topics outside the core.

Concepts: descriptions in a standard format of concepts, including effective practices, used in public management.

Advice: descriptions in a standard format of over 100 advice headings from international governmental organizations (IGOs).

The five primary databases can be accessed on the new Atlas through the links on the top navigation bar, or from the PRIMARY DATABASES menu on the left navigation bar.

Supplementary databases

The Atlas also includes a number of supplementary databases that assemble resources that can be useful in the analysis of curricular content and advice on public management. Four of these can be accessed from a menu on the left navigation bar. The full list is: Best Practice Websites Database; Career Advice Database; Competencies DatabaseCore Curriculum Database; Country Performance Indices Database; Online Glossaries DatabaseOpen Courseware Database; Public Financial Management Training Database; and Think Tanks and Commentators Database.

Mapping by public management subject

The next menu block on the left navigation bar provides links to four of the set of pages that assign items to subjects in public management. The full list is: Mapping Canada-OECD Interaction by Public Management Subject; Mapping Competencies by Public Management SubjectMapping CSPS Courses by Public Management Subject; Mapping CSPS Publications by Public Management SubjectMapping MOOCs by Public Management Subject; Mapping OECD Work by Public Management Subject; Mapping Open Access Publications by Public Management Subject; Mapping Open Access Syllabi by Public Management Subject; Mapping Open Courseware Tests by Public Management Subject; and Mapping Research in Public Management by Subject.

Curricular analysis

The next menu provides links to four of the set of pages describing our curricular analyses of material in the databases. The full list is: Comparing Course Workload – Economic Analysis; Comparing Course Workload – Quantitative MethodsComparisons with International Affairs Programs; Credit and Course Equivalencies; Curriculum Comparison Tables; MPP/MPA Core Competencies; MPP/MPA Core Learning Outcomes; MPP/MPA Curricular Types; Noteworthy Practices; Patterns in Specialization; Program Rankings by Attribute; and PA and IA Degrees offered by Times Higher Ed Top Fifty Universities.

Other material

From the Atlas Resources page, one can access additional material on the Atlas: ANU Crawford Learning Outcomes; CMHC Dictionary of Behavioural Competencies; CSPS Courses Mapped against Key Leadership Competencies; HKS Speaking and Writing Handouts; International Governmental Organizations (IGOs); Melbourne MPPM Learning Outcomes; Michigan State Behavioral Competencies; OECD Core Competencies; TBS Leadership Competencies 2015.

Projects and methodology

The bottom menu on the left navigation bar provides links to pages describing our research project, working papers, presentations, and planned monographs, as well as a two of the pages describing our assumptions and methodology, the full list being: Associating Concepts with Topics, Subjects, and Courses; Atlas Course Syllabus – DefinitionAtlas Presentations; Best Practices Project; Defining Core; Framework for Analysis; Normed Topic Model; Open Access and Attribution on the Atlas; Papers and MonographsPEACO AlgorithmSubjects in Public Management; and What is Public Management?


Two venues for commentary are: The Atlas Blog and Khilola & Friends Must Reads.

Search function

The search window on the left navigation bar provides returns to search items that appear anywhere on a page. Standard search conventions apply:

  • terms separated by spaces results in an “All of these words (in any order, anywhere on the page)” search
  • terms enclosed in quotation marks results in a “This exact phrase” (word string) search.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 6 October 2018.

Images: Screenshots of the original Atlas on 31 December 2016 and new Atlas on 4 June 2017.