governance certificate to begin this summer
State will launch a new graduate certificate program in collaborative governance
this summer aimed at teaching students of policymaking how to build consensus
among often competing interests to resolve complex public policy issues.
The certificate program,
believed to be one of the few of its type in the country, builds on the master’s
degree program of the Department of Public Policy and Administration. It will
offer students advanced skills in collaborative methods for dealing with public
policy issues that have no clear solutions and that can involve multiple government
agencies, nonprofit organizations, the private sector and the public.
“Public policy issues
today such as economic redevelopment require the input and agreement from many
different parties, so policymakers need to know how to get people and agencies
to collaborate to solve problems,” said Ted Lascher, chair of the Department
of Public Policy and Administration and one of the architects of the program.
“You need to have certain skills for successful collaborative governance
and many people want to learn how it is done.”
often referred to as deliberative and participatory governance, calls for active
participation of advocacy groups, businesses, non-governmental organizations
and citizens in government decision-making. Experts in public policy are calling
the emerging field of collaborative governance an important new development
for the health of democracy.
The certificate program,
developed in association with Sacramento State’s Center for Collaborative
Policy, grew out of a grant from the Hewlett Foundation for the development
of collaborative governance courses in the department.
After input from students
and planning by faculty, two graduate courses were created. One class covers
an introduction to collaborative policy-making and includes discussion of interpretative
policy analysis, public participation and resolution of policy controversies.
The second class focuses on the practice of collaborative policymaking and covers
topics such as multi-party consensus building.
summer the department will offer a third course, which will cover advanced practice
in collaborative policy. The students, most of whom will be mid-career professionals,
will learn about conflict analysis and assessment, collaborative policymaking
methods and techniques, and even working with the media. The course will be
presented in an intensive format with monthly Friday and Saturday class meetings.
Lascher said that most of
the students taking the courses initially will come out of the department’s
graduate program. Alums who already have a master’s degree in public policy
can take the courses and earn the certificate to add to their skills as policymakers.
Graduate students from other departments can enter the program by completing
prerequisite courses. Those from outside the University can earn the certificate
by taking the classes through the Open University, provided they also have academic
training similar to that provided by Sacramento State’s Master of Public
Policy and Administration degree program.
David Booher, a
policy expert at Sacramento State’s Center for Collaborative Policy, said
that students of public policy have been eager to learn about the difficult
task of getting different parties to cooperate for the good of an entire community.
“Public policy issues today are diverse and filled with fragmentation,
complexity and uncertainty. Our students want to know how they can put these
theories and practices to work right now,” said Booher, who helped develop
curriculum for the certificate program. “These skills have application
in dealing with environmental issues, transportation issues, health issues and
in other areas. We want to bring all these folks together at the same table
and go forward.”
Booher, who provides strategic
consulting to the center on research, education and policy issues, said that
many government agencies today hope to have at least one person in-house who
has skills in collaborative governance.
An example of collaborative
governance process, Booher said, was the center’s work with the Lower
American River Task Force. Sponsored by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency
and the Water Forum, the task force developed the consensus-based River Corridor
Management Plan for the lower American River that was formally endorsed by 40
federal, state and local agencies and partnerships, environmental groups, commercial
fishing groups, recreation groups and community groups.
Lascher said the
certificate program reflects the new dimension of public policymaking. “For
many issues today, no one group is entirely in charge,” he said. “But
you can forge a new form of governance among varied groups as they begin to
collaborate. It can be a very powerful tool in public policymaking.”
Booher said that as the
program develops it is expected to attract students of public policy who want
to learn about collaborative governance because of Sacramento State’s
location in the state’s capital and the University’s reputation
in the field of public policy. “The certificate program serves as a sort
of validation that these students will have the necessary training and will
be able to meet the challenges of leadership in policymaking,” Booher
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