Hats off to Harvard for posting HKS syllabi

Ian D. Clark, 13 March 2013

Sometime between May 2012, when I attended the fortieth reunion of the Kennedy School MPP class of 1972, and November 2012, when I revisited its website to look for insights for the University of Toronto MPP course I co-teach on leading change, the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) made virtually all of its 200+ course syllabi available to the public online. See Course Listing.

Hats%20off%20to%20HarvardSome of the courses are even featured in a series of HKS Course Trailers on YouTube where professors explain course objectives and approaches. I was delighted to watch the Archon Fung and Mark Moore course trailer on DPI-312: Sparking Social Change and see that Professor Moore still displays that classroom spark he had in 1971 when he was the wunderkind teaching assistant to Richard Neustadt and Graham Allison helping our class of 21 MPP students learn about Model II from mimeo copies of soon-to-be published Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In addition to course syllabi, the HKS website also provides public access to a range of excellent practice materials, such as those now referenced on the Atlas’s Professional Practice for Public Management page.

Until recently – with the exception of a few departments like Public Health − Harvard had not followed the lead of its neighbour, MIT, in embracing the OpenCourseWare movement. However, in May 2012 Harvard joined forces with MIT to create edX, “a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web.” The University of Toronto joined edX in February 2013, along with a handful of other universities in the US, Canada, Australia and Switzerland.

The Kennedy School’s decision to put its syllabi online is a big deal in public management education because the HKS has long been an aspirational model for new MPP programs around the globe. The Atlas of Public Management will be making extensive use of the online HKS material (see HKS Courses for those currently on the Atlas).

It is gratifying to see that some Canadian MPP programs, notably Johnson-Shoyama and Carleton, provide online access to most course syllabi, and others such as Queen’s provide a substantial number.

So, hats off to my alma mater and other schools who are leading the way in making public management courseware available to the rest of the world.

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